Market Highlights For March 2024

  • 5% fewer homes sold in Greater Vancouver compared to March 2023
  • 15% more homes were listed for sale compared to March 2023
  • Spring Break turned into a real estate break
  • Burnaby North sees a surge in new condo listings

Spring break took some of the life out of the real estate market this year, especially with Easter on the end. At the mid-point of the month, there were 3,000 new listings which was on target to bring on 6,000 for the first time since the spring of 2022. With only 5,112 at the end of March, it appears a break was indeed what many took. That 6,000 number could come in April though as this pent-up real estate market continues to simmer with many waiting to act. Buyers were also more absent in the last half as the month finished with 2,415 sales – down from the 2,535 sales in March 2023. At the mid-point of March, there were 1,300 sales, the last half decline was evident in the final numbers. Expect buyers and sellers to get back to the market with more urgency with April upon us.

The wait continues for the next Bank of Canada announcement on April 10th which will yield no changes to their rate which affects variable rate mortgages. It will be the tone of the announcement that will play into how the market reacts. With June or July being the first potential rate cut according to many economists, the tone from the Bank of Canada will continue to be the most important part of the announcements. Economic data on inflation and the health of the economy play into the Bank of Canada’s decision on changes to their rate. Signs had been pointing to a rate cut sooner rather than later but with the Canadian GDP showing stronger numbers in February, that may not rush a decision to lower rates. With revised inflation and economic forecasts coming at the April meeting, we’ll get a better sense of when rates will start to come down.

On April 16 the federal government will release their annual budget. What housing initiatives will come with that budget this year? The Liberal Government has already come out talking about launching a renter’s bill of rights. With housing continually on the minds of government right now and without any recent government policies showing any ability to tame the market, it will be interesting to see if anything else comes from this budget. The provincial government announced its much talked about anti-flipping tax during their budget this year as governments continue their assault on demand. And this week, the NDP government in B.C. strengthened restrictions on landlord use of property evictions. With more than one million people coming to Canada in each of the last two years, supply is where the focus needs to be. With recent reports stating that 741,000 new homes are needed each year through 2030, and with just 223,000 housings starts in 2023, recent government policy only serves to decrease supply and limit investor involvement. And without that capital, less homes will be built for renters and owners.

There were 2,415 properties sold in Greater Vancouver in March after seeing 2,070 properties sold in February, and 1,427 properties sold in January this year. This was a 5% decrease from the 2,535 properties sold last year in March. After the first quarter of 2024, sales are up 9.7% compared to the first 3 months of 2023. With Easter at the end of spring break this year, the effects from the school break were felt to a greater degree. Both sales and new listings fell back after mid-month with buyers and sellers focussed on other things. Since the middle of February, the number of sales per day have been consistent rising from 116 in the latter half of February to 120 per day in March. Albeit not quite the increase you’d expect in a spring market.

With March sales down from last year, this translated into sales being 30% below the 10-year-average after they were 23% below the 10-year-average in February, and 22% below the 10-year average in January. With demand still showing signs of waiting for rate changes in buyers’ favour, activity levels are on the lower side still. While multiple offers are occurring in the marketplace, it’s very much dependent on how many are listed around it, where the property is and how it is priced. Detached homes and townhomes are the most popular and shortest in supply, so it’s not surprising to see multiple offers occurring more so with those segments. April could see more buyers focus on the market with spring break and Easter out of the way, and a closer path to interest rates coming down – if the economy cooperates.

With the increased sales in March compared to the previous month, we saw a drop to 4 months supply of homes overall in Greater Vancouver, falling from 5 months in February and 6 months in January. Technically this makes it a seller’s market – although we’ve seen this act before. Low inventories create an illusion of a true seller’s markets, but not for all properties. This could change if we see significantly more listings come on the market in April with there being nearly 2,000 more active listings now compared to a year ago. Vancouver’s West Side stayed at 6 months supply and Vancouver’s East Side stayed at 4 months (a technical seller’s market) even with a surge in listings over the last year. The growth in new listings year-over-year was slower in Vancouver with sales near the same levels as March 2023 (although detached sales on Vancouver’s West Side were down 31% year-over-year and down 3% month-over-month). North Vancouver continues at 3 months supply with its perpetually low inventory, and Burnaby remains at 3 months, except in Burnaby North where 5 months supply is available because of over 100 new listings for brand new and recently completed condos at Lougheed Mall and around Brentwood. Port Moody finished with nearly half the sales of March 2023 and bumped up to 4 months supply while Port Coquitlam had more sales and fewer new listings leaving that municipality with 2 months supply.

Even though it felt like more homes were coming on the market, there were only 5,112 new listings in Greater Vancouver. This was above last year’s total of 4,427 new listings, producing another consecutive month of year-over-year increase in new listings. After the first quarter in 2024, total new listings are 20% more than the first quarter of 2023. That is helping to add to the active listing count.

The number of new listings in March were 9% below the 10-year average after February was right at the 10-year average, taking us back to the previous few months which saw the level of new listings below the average. Whether spring break or playing the waiting game, some sellers just as much as buyers are holding off.

There were 10,552 active listings in Greater Vancouver at month end, compared to the 9,634 actives at the end of February and 8,633 active listings at the end of January. The count of active listings is up year-over-year though, with there being nearly 2,000 more at the end of March compared to 8,617 at the end of March 2023. The detached market overall has come down to 5.5 months supply from 6 in February and 8 in January, keeping it in a balanced market. Townhomes have dropped down to 3 months supply from 4 with and condos stayed at 4 months supply – keeping both in seller’s market conditions. Even with the elevated supply for detached properties, year-over-year House Price Index was up 7.4%, compared with 5.0% for townhouses and 5.7% for condos. Land continues to be the best investment.

Depending on price point and area though, some may be more in balanced market conditions. Absorption rates for detached were up to 44% from 39% for the month while townhouses and condos were 53% and 48% from the previous month at 48% and 47% respectively. All segments saw lower absorption rates compared to last year in March, because of the increase in new listings this month and hence the subsequent rise in total active listings.

April is shaping up to be a bell weather month. With listing inventory ready to take off – 1,235 new listings within the first two days of April already, and buyers circling while waiting for the right time to jump in the market, it could produce a healthier pace of sales that sees buyers and sellers win. With limited inventory over the last 10 years, prices haven’t faced the downward pressure that would be expected with the slower pace of the market. The real estate market in Metro Vancouver has a long way to go to get to balance, but every listing helps. And with each new listings, comes another opportunity for the many buyers that are waiting.

Here’s a summary of the numbers:

Greater Vancouver: Total Units Sold in March were 2,415 – up from 2,070 (17%) in February, up from 1,427 (69%) in January, down from 2,535 (5%) in March 2023, down from 4,505 (46%) in March 2022, down from 5,843 (59%) in March 2021, down from 2,562 (6%) in March 2020, up from 1,745 (38%) in March 2019; Active Listings were at 10,552 at month end compared to 8,617 at that time last year and 9,634 at the end of February; New Listings in March were up 10% compared to February 2024, up 15% compared to March 2023, down 25% compared to March 2022, down 40% compared to March 2021, up 13% compared to March 2020, and up 1% compared to March 2019. Month’s supply of total residential listings is down to 4 month’s supply (seller’s market conditions) and sales to listings ratio of 47% compared to 45% in February 2024, 57% in March 2023, and 65% in March 2022. Month-over-month, the house price index is up 1.1% and in the last 6 months down 0.6%.

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