Get what you want: Understand the Vancouver Real Estate Market

When it comes to buying or selling real estate in Vancouver, is it the old cliché of Location, location, location or Timing is everything? Do most people buy when rates are low? Or sell at the best time of year? Or just believe what is suggested in the Media?


When I am talking to people about real estate, this is what they all want to know, “How is the market doing? Is it a good time to buy? When should I sell?” There are two sides to every story (or market) so it depends on who you are and what you want to do, not what the market is doing. What you want to do should not change but your tactics might!

The funny thing about buying or selling real estate is that you are buying or selling property not a market. Understand that the market is built around several different segments: the type of housing, such as condo, house, townhouse; and the area, such as West Vancouver, the West End, or the Westside (all different). Some segments or neighborhood areas may be red hot while areas are not, in the same market! So you need to know what you want to do and how your particular area is operating, not what everyone else is doing. In the early spring market of 2013 there are homes that are selling in competition because they are highly sought after properties. There are also buyers getting good value, as prices have softened compared to the high point of last spring. The market is not always one way or another.

Often time I will hear reports in the Media, declaring the so-called “latest trend.” It is important to do your own vetting of information that is specific to your needs and not give too much value to a general headline that is looking to improve ratings or gain new readers simply to sell newspapers. Analysis is very important, yes, but also look at more than just opinions and numbers. Evaluate your own personal circumstances and decide on how your situation fits into a particular market area.

Once you know where you want to go, then you can create a plan to get there. For example, first time buyers want to start building equity in their own property rather than paying rent and reducing someone else’s mortgage. Markets can be up or down but first time buyers will be operating in all types of markets, as their choice to buy into the market outweighs the market itself.


It is important to recognize that there are deals in every market but they are not always clear and up front. Let’s say there is a really “well priced” home for sale. Often times there is more than one buyer offering on this same property, so with competition a bidding war drives the purchase price of the deal up. There are also many deals made through a strong negotiation that accommodates the needs of both the seller and the buyer. If you know the market, you will know if you are getting a good deal so you can make the best deal.


Tip: As a buyer if you find a property you like, “tie it up.” Negotiate with the sellers one on one so that you can negotiate the price down before others see the same value and push the price up. Sellers want to do the opposite of course, so make sure that you give your property a chance to be seen by the market so you can hopefully attract multiple buyers to bid your price up.

When it comes to selling everyone wants to get the best price. Know why you want to sell and evaluate whether the market can give you what you want. Timing the peaks and valleys of a market is very challenging. Look at what you are hoping to achieve and determine if you can reach that goal, or not, by putting yourself in the shoes of buyers then honestly evaluate your situation from the points of view of others. (Turn a fresh eye from a buyers’ perspective, identify any maintenance or repair issues, and fix them before you sell.)

Don’t wait to find the perfect time to buy or sell, as this process may take longer than you really want it too. Think of the first time buyer mentioned earlier. If they keep on “waiting to buy” they could miss out on extra months or even years of equity that they could have been building in their “own nests” instead of throwing their money away in rent. Keep the “bigger picture” in mind. Have the confidence to live your life without letting other factors such as the market affect what you want to do.

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