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Real estate in slow recovery

Carla Wilson, The Victoria Times-Colonist, April 16, 2004

Despite careful tracking of residential house sales and values in B.C., it's too early to know where the market is heading, says a real estate analyst.

It will take another three to four months to predict where the bottom of the market is, Rudy Nielsen, president of Vancouver-based Landcor Data Corporation, said yesterday. He added from there, any recovery will be slow.

"A lot of consumers are very nervous. They are sitting on their money," Nielsen said. "Nobody can really predict where we are going right now."

The picture is similar in Greater Victoria, across the province and nationally. Sales are rising from earlier this year but still trail 2008. Values are also down.

The year-to-date value of all capital region sales through the Multiple Listing Service is $530.8 million, down 36.5 per cent from the same months last year. The first three months of last year saw sales totals of $836 million, the B.C. Real Estate Association said.

Greater Victoria's average residential price in March was $441,380, down from $504,194 in March 2008, the association said.

But buyers seem to be stepping back into the market. Greater Victoria sales jumped by close to 50 per cent in March, compared with February, the Victoria Real Estate Board said earlier.

Provincially, the number of sales in March paled in comparison to the same month a year ago, but continued to tick up from the depths of January.

Across the province, real estate boards tracked 5,464 sales, down 25 per cent from 7,319 sales in March 2008. The number seems to indicate a slowing of the sales decline from February, a month in which the volume of transactions were down by almost half from February 2008.

"[March sales are] actually quite an improvement from what we experienced in the winter months, and really, right now are trending on what we might expect," said Cameron Muir, chief economist for the B.C. association.

Muir expects this year will see sales similar to 2000-2001 levels. "That's what we would expect given a weaker economy [and] rising unemployment."

Provincially, sliding prices and lower interest rates means the monthly cost of an average mortgage has dropped 20 per cent, Muir said. That's based on a 20-per-cent down payment and the average posted interest rate.