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Vacant land sales soar in the Fraser Valley

Robert Freeman , Chilliwack Progress, April 16, 2008

Vacant land sales in the Fraser Valley jumped by more than 40 per cent last year, although the total number of residential sales dipped by four per cent, according to a Landcor Data Corporation study released yesterday.

“What’s happening is everybody’s scrambling looking for more land to subdivide and develop,” Landcor president Rudy Nielsen told The Progress.

And because land costs are so high in Vancouver, people looking for places to live are “starting to move to the Fraser Valley ... and they’re just going to commute,” he said.

The number of vacant properties sold in the Fraser Valley jumped from 90 in 2001 to 1,247 in 2007, according to Landcor’s summary of residential sales. There were 885 vacant land sales in 2006.

Nielsen said the troubled U.S. economy is hurting the Ontario manufacturing sector for the first time, which is sending investors and job-hunters heading west.

“All of a sudden the four western provinces are looking good and people are moving back here,” he said. “People from Toronto are coming with chequebooks out to invest in B.C.”

He expects the wave of to “level off a bit” and then build again as the 2010 winter Olympics draw near.

Despite reports of a slowing real estate market in the Fraser Valley, overall dollar values and home sales across the province remain strong, according to the Landcor summary, which includes all land transactions, public and private, not just MLS listings.

The total dollar value of residential property sales in B.C. hit a record $62-billion last year, 15 percent higher than 2006 and three times higher than the $18.9-billion recorded in 2001.

The Fraser Valley’s total sales values edged up to $6.8-billion last year from $6.3-billion in 2006, although the total number of sales dropped slightly from 19,794 to 19,032 or about four percent.

The median sales price for vacant land in the Fraser Valley hit a record high last year, jumping to $245,000 from $180,000, a 36 percent increase.

The median price for attached homes also hit a new record last year, rising to $293,050 from $247,143, an increase of more than 18 percent.

The median sales price for detached homes climbed to $410,000 from $355,000 or 15.5 percent, although the number of sales dropped from 11,677 to 9,680, a 17 percent decrease.

The number of apartment units sold rose by more than 18 percent, from 4,739 units in 2006 to 5,608 units last year.

Landcor is considered B.C.’s premier real estate analysis and data provider with a database containing information on over 1.8 million properties.