‘Balanced’ Langley housing market sees prices fall as sales stall

Sales and listings are down from recent years

On paper, Langley’s real estate sales numbers look perfectly healthy.

But seen in the context of a steep plunge in sales and a decline in prices from the last two years, the latest statistics from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board take on a new light.

“The Fraser Valley market is still adjusting to the federal government’s new mortgage requirements and to the provincial government’s speculation and vacancy taxes,” said David Germnyn, president of the FVREB.

Statistics from June show Langley saw 76 detached homes, 74 townhouses, and 59 condos sell in the month.

For detached houses, that’s down 25.5 per cent from June of last year, and down 12.6 per cent from last month.

Townhouse sales were exactly the same as in 2018, but down 12.9 per cent from May’s numbers. Condo sales were down 25.3 per cent from 2018, and 27.2 per cent from May.

Yet one of the standard measures used to study the health of a housing market shows that sellers and buyers are relatively in balance.

Traditionally, a housing market is considered “balanced” if between 12 and 20 per cent of actively listed homes sell over a given period of time.

In Langley in June, that means single family homes (16.74 per cent) and condos (19.6 per cent) were balanced. Townhouses saw 27.4 per cent of those listed sell, putting that into “sellers market” territory.

Yet the benchmark and average price of all three types of housing was down year-over-year.

The benchmark price of a single family home in Langley in June was $982,300, down 8.5 per cent from the same month in 2018.

Townhouse prices slipped 5.6 per cent and condo prices were down seven per cent.

While sales are still considered “balanced” by traditional metrics, just two years ago in mid-2017, about 50 per cent of all houses on the market sold during the peak spring season. In 2016, more than 50 per cent of homes sold during peak months. Prices followed sales in a steep curve upwards.

The plunge from a buyer’s market that intense has been swift.

By last spring, sales had begun to stall across Metro Vancouver, with single family houses impacted first. Prices began to level out and by 2019 they were in retreat.

The inventory of homes on the market shot up sharply in 2018 and this year, but there are still far fewer homes for sale than there were between 2010 and 2014.

“We’re seeing historically low levels for home purchases in our region, and yet at the same time we’re seeing some prospective sellers holding back on listing their homes; waiting to see what the market will do,” said Germyn.

While sales are down from their highs, the number of multi-family homes being built in Langley is rising.

June statistics from Langley Township showed that as of June, building permits had been issued for 86 condo and townhouse developments this year, for a total of 909 multi-family units.

Two multi-family building permits were issued in June, valued at $50 million in construction value.

The number of permits issued for construction this year is double the five-year average for this point in the year, but those numbers are expected to level out, according to Ramin Seifi, the Township’s general manager of engineering and community development.

An increase in development cost charges in Metro Vancouver saw a number of developers scrambling to get their permits in the first half of the year, before fees increased, Seifi said.

“It wasn’t anything to do with market conditions,” he noted.

So far this year building permits have been issued for 231 units of single family housing as well.

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