Home prices dipped in much of the Lower Mainland last year but not by nearly enough to count as a bursting of what some had considered a real estate bubble.
The composite benchmark price of all residential property in Greater Vancouver dropped 5.8 per cent from the price peak in May to the end of 2012.
That represented a 2.3 per cent one-year drop from December of 2011, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.
“It’s a mild market correction,” said Central 1 Credit Union economist Helmut Pastrick.
He predicts a continued soft real estate market for the next several months before buying and prices perk up in the second half of the year.
Pastrick bases his forecast on improving growth in the U.S. that will spill over into B.C. later in the year, and spur continued economic growth and home price gains in 2014-16.
He said the recent decline in prices may also help draw some prospective buyers back into the property market.
Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board president Eugen Klein said the “modest” change in home prices and the steeper 22 per cent drop in overall sales reflected a “collective hesitation” of home buyers and sellers.
The benchmark price for detached houses in the Greater Vancouver area was down 2.7 per cent year-over-year to $904,000.
Composite residential prices fell the most in 2012 on the Sunshine Coast (-6.3 per cent), Richmond (-5.3 per cent) and Vancouver’s west side (-2.8 per cent.)
Areas that gained year-over-year included Port Moody (up three per cent), Pitt Meadows (up 2.6 per cent) and Coquitlam (up 1.3 per cent.)
The average single detached home owner in Greater Vancouver saw an 18 per cent gain over the past five years, but apartment owners actually lost money – 1.3 per cent – over the same period.
The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, which includes Surrey, White Rock and North Delta, reported a benchmark detached house price of $539,000 – up 1.2 per cent from a year ago. Townhouses were down 2.2 per cent and apartments were up 1.6 per cent.
“The last half of 2012 was like a Mexican standoff,” said FBREB president Scott Olson. “Buyers kept hoping for greater price drops while sellers who didn’t have to sell just took their home off the market rather than lower their price.”
Sales in the Fraser Valley were down 11 per cent for the year.
Benchmark prices, one-year % change
Detached house – $904,200 (- 2.7 %)Attached – $450,900 (- 2.6 %)Apartment – $361,200 (- 1.9 %)
Fraser ValleyDetached house – $539,000 (+1.2 %)Attached – $296,400 (-2.2 %)Apartment – $200,100 (+1.6 %)