After years of skyrocketing real estate prices in much of urban B.C., things are finally set to cool off in the new year.
A 2019 market survey forecast from Royal LePage suggests that house prices are in the Lower Mainland will rise by just 0.6 per cent.
Last year’s forecast predicted prices would rise by five per cent.
Next year’s predicted increase would leave houses costing an average of $1.3 million by the end of the year.
Royal LePage Sterling Realty general manager Randy Ryalls said that the slowdown was a natural correction after a busy few years on the real estate market.
“The volume is down off of those crazy levels where we were selling 5000 properties a month,” Ryalls said.
“This is much more of a normalization of our market than we’ve seen in quite a few years.”
Ryalls said that the mortgage stress test brought in at the start of the year, coupled with the foreign buyers tax and other provincial policies, was helping to calm markets.
But for buyers who thought “the ship had sailed,” Ryalls said 2019 presented a new opportunity.
“The condo and townhouse market has sort of balanced itself out and detached houses are probably firmly in buyer market territory,” he said.
That means there will be opportunities for first-time millennials buyers for the first time in years.
“Where you were having to compete with several other buyers to buy a property in 2016 and 2017, now you have an opportunity to go and be the only buyer on a property and negotiate a pretty good price,” Ryalls said.
“There’s an opportunity for a millennial buyer. Now they can go and not make a decision in five minutes when they walk in the door.”
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But recent buyers shouldn’t despair that they’ve bought a useless property.
B.C. still has “probably the best economy in Canada,” Ryalls noted, and with unemployment remaining low, the real estate market continues to have a strong foundation.
“There’s periods of a lot of growth in terms of prices and then it slips back a little bit,” Ryalls said.
“We’ve gone through a period when we’ve had double digit increases per year and that’s not sustainable and that’s going to correct itself a little bit.”