Vancouver Homes for Sale Implode

Vancouver Homes for Sale Scarce

Vancouver real estate’s New Year is starting off with a bang. For the first time in many months, the aggregate number of properties for sale in the lower mainland has tumbled below the 17,000 mark.

Vancouver Realtors® began whispering in the early part of December that it was becoming more difficult to find quality homes for their buyers.


Today’s Internet Data Exchange (IDX)count tallied 16,872 active listings – down from October 1 when the count was 24,457. This may seem like a large number of homes for sale until you account for the geographic region covered. It stretches from Pemberton and some Gulf Islands all the way to Hope.

REVISED – A Bigger Bang

This revision was made Jan 03/2011 12:04 a.m. and now includes this second graph created about 36 hours after the original post. The numbers were recorded from the IDX. Note the substantial drop in Active Listings in that period. On Jan 1 there were 16,872 active listings. On Jan. 3 there were 13,994 recorded. Since October that is just over 10,000 listings that have disappeared. Yes, the Vancouver real estate market has changed again!


Expect a rush of new listings to come to market in January. In that rush, anticipate that you will also see some higher asking prices – especially if the home is well maintained, tidy and in a desirable location.

About Larry Yatkowsky

Larry is a recognized real estate expert. A veteran professional, his experienced counsel leads Vancouverites in his west side community to place their trust in a man passionate about his work. Uncompromising ethics bring a balanced approach to realizing your real estate dreams.

When Life Moves You - contact Larry:

*Disclaimer: Statistics Courtesy REBGV. While believed to be accurate they are not guaranteed.
**Numbers provided may vary as they are dynamically posted by the REBGV.

Reader Comments:

John V Says:
January 2nd, 2011 at 8:00 am

As predicted. Its only going to get worse on the supply side in 2011.

January 2nd, 2011 at 1:26 pm

@John V

with that statement are you implying it would be a ‘golden’ opportunity to sell? Are you expecting prices to rise?

John V Says:
January 2nd, 2011 at 1:57 pm

I think the market pushes higher into spring as inventory drops to zero. (and I am talking only West side here)

Driving around I dont see a lot of new houses ready to come on the market, however I have seen some lots sold in May-Oct coming back on the market as builders are looking for quick flips rather than tying up more capital to build new houses. This will only serve to delay any new house inventory.

People thinking of moving up are staying put, cause prices are just too insane to contemplate selling for $3M to buy $4M, so dont expect a lot of mid-tier investory either.

That leaves estate sales and sales from people will to leave the Vancouver market all together. And that aint much.

So with huge demand and diddly for inventory prices go higher until current owners finally capitulate and sell to realize huge gains.

We aren’t selling yet but when I think we can clear $3.5M (after fees) we likely will. 10% to go …

January 2nd, 2011 at 2:44 pm

@john V
assume you attain the additional 10% – what or where is the alternative that you see going forward? Is it Okanagan, Ontario, Van Island, Kootenay? Always curious what people have in mind as I have seen a number of cash outs which then lead to places like Ladysmith. Which if you are 65 means 4 days a week free on the ferry so staying in touch with friends here, the theatre or special events doesn’t present a problem as time is not an issue. Alternates also exist as Victoria is a relatively short drive. Other benefits include moorage at half of Vancouver rates, homes with views – new at $475k +- I’m told.

John V Says:
January 2nd, 2011 at 3:11 pm

west van and build again probably

January 2nd, 2011 at 3:16 pm

@john V
would you go out on a limb to concur that your ‘uncertainty’ might be a reflection of many Vancouver real estate players?

John V Says:
January 2nd, 2011 at 3:19 pm

not many other options – we are going to nanaimo or winnipeg … west van is a decent alternative to kerrisdale

John V Says:
January 2nd, 2011 at 3:19 pm

i mean we arent GOING

January 2nd, 2011 at 3:31 pm

@john V

Winnipeg !! Agreed – there will be two empty seats on that bus! 🙂

L8erdude Says:
January 3rd, 2011 at 9:07 am

sellers are waiting for the new MLS rule changes to take effect. Expect inventory to continue plummeting until April. After April watch an explosion of listings from the basic 800.00 MLS listing fee. As I’ve said, why not try to sell your own home at 800 bucks? Very little risk here and save nearly 20K

January 3rd, 2011 at 9:20 am

Nothing new here so I’m not sure what you are on about. BC law has provided for negotiated commissions for at least 20 years. What’s the big deal?

L8erdude Says:
January 3rd, 2011 at 9:39 am

the big deal is that the consumer will actually have negotiating power. Instead of the realtor telling them to hit the road when they ask for a discount they’ll now have to listen.
When it comes time to sell my house I won’t be paying a realtor any more than 5K – that’s 2500.00 for each side. This is more than ample compensation and represents a 75% “discount” in realtor fees. Sorry Larry, I think it’ll be a tough year for realtors.

January 3rd, 2011 at 10:31 am

Again nothing new here as you have been able to do that for 20 years in BC. As for veiled threats such as ‘they’ll have to listen’ my response is I don’t think so.
There has and will always be someone who works for less and that is ok with me – again nothing new.
The discussion is circular to some extent as I point you to US stats that show in excess of 80% of home sellers choose traditional real estate services. The numbers won’t be much different in Canada.

In that you have decided what you feel is fair compensation remains your choice. Certainly, there will be those amongst us who will work for that amount.

There have been and currently are many discount brokers in existence so I don’t get why you think this will somehow affect the market.

Jim Says:
January 3rd, 2011 at 1:47 pm

John V,

I too have heard the refrain from several West Side home owners that there is far better value to be had for the dollar in West Van.
Bigger lots, bigger houses, better views for the same or less money.
But there’s nowhere to walk, schools aren’t as good. The commute to town almost always is painful, and from an investment standpoint Vancouver’s West Side never dissapoints.

Franz Says:
January 3rd, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Haha Larry sounds a little defensive. 🙂

January 3rd, 2011 at 2:20 pm

why is logic and fact defensive?

L8erdude Says:
January 3rd, 2011 at 10:28 pm

@ Larry,
Tell me Larry – just why do you think you deserve 10K commission for about 10 hrs of work? You guys make lawyers salaries look like chump change

January 3rd, 2011 at 11:53 pm

you make it too easy. Answer: so i can afford to spend time here listening to you. Frankly, for this work I am underpaid!

L8erdude Says:
January 4th, 2011 at 8:31 am

My real estate insights are at least as valuable to a homeowner as yours Larry…but thanks for your “charity” if this is the way you see it.

specialfx3000 Says:
January 4th, 2011 at 9:11 am

I’m with L8erdude on this one. I get that some deals involve lots of work and may deserve more compensation…. but face it, many deals can be and have been completed in hours that you can count with your toes and fingers and definitely does not justify the tens of thousands of dollars in commission.

Please don’t consider the Mercedes parked out front by some realtors as ‘overhead’ cost that needs to be covered.

January 4th, 2011 at 10:10 am

re; insights – of course, and every opinion and has value to someone
re; charity – call it that if you wish. An alternate perspective is to look upon it as a service to those who are trying to gather qualified information upon which to make a very expensive decision. Should one presume that you offer this somewhere that is easily accessed?

Some examples: the Finding your Home feature or, Zillow, Zoocasa, Errors and Ommissions insurance, bonding, and yes even this blog – all appear to be provided for ‘free’ but in reality these services are being paid for from advertising or commissions earned. For many opinionated ‘webites’, the expectation is that all information should be freely given but something that is conveniently forgotten or simply overlooked in the ‘webites’ calculation, is that someone has to pay for the electricity, the hardware, software plus all the infrastructure and productive time that makes it all run.

I recall but cannot provide the actual source although I think it was IBM, that confirms a claim that 40% of the value of any data is in its accumulation and organization into a usefull format. A generous extrapolation suggests that for each listing taken 40% of the commission paid to sell that property is relegated to acquiring and presenting the data. Not far fetched if you look at the aggragate of land titles, appraisals, MLS and [possibly other entitities such as Landcor that are used to present an estimate of value.

Where am I going with this?
The point is that yes there is a lot stuff on this blog that appears to be free for you and others to use as you see fit. I encourage you to do so. This includes the time taken to program the software, manage the entity, and of course, respond to comments. It all takes time and to use the old phrase ‘time is money’. So when you say list my house for $600 I respectfully have to say not possible for me to do so – not if you expect these services. However, if you would like to pay per post and comment we can work out a deal.

I happen to think it important that individuals have a place to deploy their opinion – collectively it is a form of data that may for someone else may prove useful in formulating a decision but, don’t forget that all this comes at a price and that price is apportioned from the commissions I earn from sharing in the success of a sale.

January 4th, 2011 at 10:18 am

yes these “instant” transactions do occur and yes they seem imbalanced. Not that you care but apropos to this post, consider the 10,000 listings that didn’t sell. Lot of time, effort and hard costs that will not be recouped whereas flatfee guys don’t give a damn whether the house sells of not – there is no incentive.
re: benz – with tongue is cheek – no worries! I drive a somewhat rusted 67 Dodge truck borrowed for listing presentations and on open house days from my friend and former Realtor’s third wife. It’s best feature is that leaves blue smoke trails to obscure the for sale sign. Oh and by the way, can I use your film camera to take pictures ( I know you won’t mind paying for the developing cost ) and do you have laptop and some paper at your house I can use to print the evaluation on your printer? Knowing all this, I’m certain you will have confidence in me as your home selling representative because I don’t drive a Benz. Last – Sorry about the doggie stuff on my shoes. I’m sure the carpet will clean up real good in time for the open house. 🙂

L8erdude Says:
January 4th, 2011 at 10:49 am

just by way of perspective Larry. I pay my lawyer 1K for a vital part of my transaction but am forced to pay my realtor 10K for his/her service. I think most homeowners know which service is more valuable.
By the way, I do appreciate your stats, but this should be available to the public too (and this is the next project for The Competition Bureau).
p.s. please don’t think I dislike realtors, I just think you guys are massively overpaid

January 4th, 2011 at 11:26 am

to be clear I never thought you disliked Realtors. But let’s look at what you are saying to understand the difference.

“forced to pay my realtor 10K for his/her service”
we are back to the original premise. You have not during my time is this business which is lenghty, ever been ‘forced’ to pay your Realtor $10,000.

The choice you have made is instead to provide what you consider to be a substantial “incentive” to do the job. Ask yourself if for $600 you are going to get up in the morning – supposition says unlikely. However, for $10,000 I’ll bet your shirt and suit will be pressed, shoes shined and you will be ready to go all before 7 am and you will be prepared and very happy to maintain a cheery smile all day till 1 am that night as you close the deal having shown your buyer 25 homes in the past month. While doing all that you will find time to knock on doors some of which will be slammed shut, post and respond to your blog activity, design, print and pay for neighbourhood flyers, calendars or what have you, while taking numerous calls on your cell phone during lunch or while driving. Oh I almost forgot – it’s also your kid’s birthday, baseball game or school play and you have to make the time to be there for those family events. Of course there are your volunteer activities as well but, ‘enough already’.

Some if not all of this and more get traded off for that ‘incentive’.

L8erdude Says:
January 4th, 2011 at 12:47 pm

you underestimate my work ethic Larry. I already collect comparable sales info in my neighbourhood so I know what to ask for my home when the times comes. I also know that showing my home (open house) to potential buyers is essential if I want to ensure I don’t sell under market. I have my home appraisal and gas tank removal documents (along with the comps) ready to display.
Yes Larry, for the two weeks it’ll take to sell my home I can bust my hump AND maintain a cheery smile to save myself 20K…who wouldn’t?

January 4th, 2011 at 1:06 pm

“who wouldn’t”

answer – 80% of home sellers.

specialfx3000 Says:
January 4th, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Larry, you can use my digital camera and laptop and print the pictures and evaluation on my injet printer. No worries about the doggie stuff that you transferred from your shoes to my carpet…. I’ll take care of that too.

Since you don’t have that Benz to worry about, I guess Imost of your overhead costs are taken care of.

So when it’s time for you to to sell a property for me, you will charge a nice reasonable commission rate for your professional services rendered.

Oh, btw, Happy New Year to you Larry.

January 4th, 2011 at 1:15 pm


no worries – thanks for the chuckle and Happy New Year to U 2

L8erdude Says:
January 4th, 2011 at 1:26 pm

yattermatters Says:

“who wouldn’t”

answer – 80% of home sellers.

the proof of the pudding will be in the eating Larry.

In any event, count me as one of the minority sellers who would like to save 20,000 on my next sale.

January 4th, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Being that market value invariably includes marketing costs – let’s say $20,000 using your figures, I expect your home will sell quickly as I sense you want to be fair and will of course reduce the price by $20k to reflect true market value. No you say – the $20K is mine! Hmmmm!

Expect buyers will demand that adjustment as they want to save money too! Guess what goes around comes around. 🙂

L8erdude Says:
January 4th, 2011 at 3:51 pm

I think I know how to price my home Larry. And if it takes a reduction of 20K to sell it I’ll have already factored this in to the asking price. Now what would happen if I needed to reduce by 20K AND pay realtors 20K in commissions?
Don’t mind me – I also want to buy my cars directly from the factory and bypass the dealer.

January 4th, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I don’t mind at all.

Jim Says:
January 4th, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Larry, yours is becoming the blog of choice because of its timely and thought provoking posts. Thank-you.
That said, the contingency based commission structure will die a natural death. As a sales pro my self I can tell you the internet is delivering disintermediation to all sales jobs. The key is to ride the wave and not get crushed by it. Savvy home buyers and sellers will figure out that paying a higher commission to a realtor to compensate them for all the hours of work for which they are not compensated is illogical and inefficient. I am not suggesting I know a better way. Just that its coming.

January 4th, 2011 at 6:09 pm

thanks for the kudos.

Best place on meth Says:
January 4th, 2011 at 9:20 pm

John V., you’re hilarious man.

That’s some wicked satire you’ve got going on.

BBCoq Says:
January 4th, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Larry-just tell l8erdude is that you are like a hooker-sometimes it takes an instant and sometimes it takes forever but sadly you only get paid when it is finished. You get paid sadly for that part-how you get there is unique evry time.
Only kidding of course and if I was looking in Van you would be the man-based on what I see as value for money.
Lots of realtors out there but how many are worth the price-I would not do business with anyone who at least could not remember the market before 2002 and showed some knowledge of how to operate in a declining interest rate environment which sooner or later is comiong to an end.
Here is to a prosperous 2011 for you Larry.

January 4th, 2011 at 11:07 pm

*laughing* well some people think Realtors® are whores – expensive ones at that. However, from my perspective I think your description of the why and how is the best I’ve heard.
Thanks for the chuckle. 🙂

January 4th, 2011 at 11:21 pm

you may be right about the contingency route. There was a discussion over at Canadian Mortgage Trends about lenders not being prepared to finance fees for real estate services when and if they are not included in the agreement.

I subseqently checked with Rob Regan-Pollock at Invis who reported that both CMHC and Genworth would not participate in any financing where real estate service fees were outside of the purchase and sale agreement. It was also noted that some lenders as it pertains to this issue are currently not undertaking the paper.
This means each agreement would have to have a separate schedule outlining that the seller will credit the buyer with ‘X’ amount of dollars to offset the fees.
If I understood the message correctly, this leaves up front flat fee real estate services out of the picture in terms of financing the fees. As such, both buyers and sellers will need to make alternate arrangements with their agents to ensure everyone is clear about their respective obligations.
There is rumour in the grapevine that Flaherty and Co. are supposed to revist the entire mortgage lending practice. Since the Fed’s operate on 25 year plans I’m not buying a box of Kleenix to dry my eyes just yet.

stats don't lie Says:
January 5th, 2011 at 5:02 am

Looks like all of Vancouver read Larry’s post on January 2nd, and decided to list on January 4th:

Vancouver All Areas*

New Listings – 258

Back On Market Listings – 93
Price Changes – 58
Sold Listings – 88

*Attached & Detached – Date: 01/04/2011 Time:20:27 Pacific

January 5th, 2011 at 9:00 am

will be interesting to see if this continues across the 3 RE boards

Samsonite Says:
January 5th, 2011 at 9:05 am

I found yesterday’s listings ‘surge’ interesting as well, but as Larry indicates…let’s see if this continues.

Could this be the spring where listings hit new records? or just a regular seasonal pattern…only time will tell.

Jim Says:
January 5th, 2011 at 9:29 am

stats don’t lie;

Sigh…almost not worth commenting…We had this little thing called Christmas.

specialfx3000 Says:
January 5th, 2011 at 3:31 pm

I like Spring. Tulips a blooming…

January 5th, 2011 at 5:49 pm

question – do you wake up as a pessimist?

specialfx3000 Says:
January 5th, 2011 at 8:08 pm

On the contrary. I’m generally a half-glass full kinda guy.

But I’m also an ‘value’ seeker and I don’t see that in this local real estate market.

But if you must judge, yes, I’m pessimistic for the local market in 2011.

January 5th, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Was a question not condemnation

L8erdude Says:
January 6th, 2011 at 8:21 am

@ specialfx

depends on how you’re valuing this market. Is it cheap? No. Will it continue to appreciate? Yes. Will there continue to be less and less detached properties in this city? Yes.
So if you’re buying a place to live for yourself and your family it’s probably still worthwhile. If you’re simply looking for investment rather than a principal residence there are probably better spots in Canada.
And yes, a lot of potential buyers in Vancouver wake up optimists and go to bed pessimists – it’s a tough town for a renter.

stats don't lie Says:
January 7th, 2011 at 7:42 am

@ Larry — based on your daily numbers, it looks like this trend is continuing (3 straight days of high List/Sales)

Blobby Says:
January 7th, 2011 at 7:46 am

What a load of nonsense.

Listings are falling because sales are down and no-one is buying. People would rather take their property off the market at the moment than sell for a lower price.

Spin the data as much as you like, that’s a bad thing for the market. If there IS suddenly an influx of listings as you think there will be, then that will come with LOWER prices not higher ones.. as property just isnt selling at the moment.

According to Rebgv, Year over year sales have been DOWN nearly every month since around march.

January 7th, 2011 at 9:08 am

3 days make a ‘trend’? better said by you then me. 🙂

January 7th, 2011 at 9:12 am

well now! – seems your crystal ball spins predictions that are more accurate than others.

Jim Says:
January 7th, 2011 at 9:16 am

Blobby Says;

Wrong, listings are down because people are staying put for a myriad of personal reasons. Demand is strong because of low rates and, in Richmond, Vancouver West, and West Vancouver demand by Chinese and the well employed over 40 set.
Combine the two and look for a blistering hot market in 2011.

L8erdude Says:
January 7th, 2011 at 11:29 am

@ stats don’t lie

seems like this listings surge (aka “trend”) doesn’t include detached housing in Vancouver. Only 28 new listings for detached were found under 2million. So what are the other listings? Probably condos – bon appetit!

January 7th, 2011 at 11:38 am

The numbers in the Dailies include both Attached and Detached as noted.

L8erdude Says:
January 7th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

@ Larry

Yes, I know. I have access to the attached and detached breakdown – which is not from your posted stats

Blobby Says:
January 7th, 2011 at 4:48 pm

quote : “Demand is strong because of low rates and, in Richmond, Vancouver West, and West Vancouver demand by Chinese and the well employed over 40 set.”

Demand ISNT strong though. Sales are WAAAY down to almost 2008 levels. Theyre down year over year by a huge amount. Sure the likes of CBC and the local papers are reporting sales are up month over month.. but then a 5% rise on next to nothing is still next to nothing.

As for your comments about chinese buying all the property – well i’ve not seen ANY data to prove that comment, and it’s just hearsay given around by realtors.

I’m getting my stats from the REBGV, where are you getting yours?

I see no sign of a pick up AT ALL.

January 7th, 2011 at 5:44 pm

who you talkin to?

stats don't lie Says:
January 7th, 2011 at 7:20 pm

@ Larry — trends won’t become obvious until the spring… I just found it amusing that literally 2 days after you posted “there are no listings”, there were suddenly a bunch of new listings.

(maybe you should post “there are no winning lottery tickets in my pocket”?)

Jim Says:
January 7th, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Bobby, Bobby, Bobby:

Record high detached prices, record low rates, super low detached inventory.
What stats are you talking about?

You are not aware of Chinese immigration? Their desire for Vancouver housing?
Bobby-come on.

January 7th, 2011 at 8:45 pm

the post was more about the total. it was expected that there would be new listings coming on board
re: tickets LOL – remember the 50/50 rule

January 7th, 2011 at 8:47 pm

methinks you mean Blobby, Blobby, Bloddy 🙂

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