HOMEFINDER: High demand puts pressure on limited listings

Market continues to move quickly as fewer new listings come into play

Real estate agent Julie DeMelo says having fewer listings on the market makes for a more frenzied buying scenario.

It’s slim pickings if you’ve been looking at real estate listings lately and if you’re an agent, you’re probably looking at those listings multiple times per day.

In fact, inventory levels remain a fraction of what they were last year. As of Monday, the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing Service reported only 1,832 active listings, down almost 100 from the end of October. That number is also down from the almost 3,000 listings that were on the books in November 2015.

Julie DeMelo of Sutton Group Westcoast Realty noted those numbers include everything from condos to townhouses to single-family homes.

“There’s hardly anything to choose from. That’s why we have this crazy busy buying frenzy,” she said.

She pointed to one of her recent listings. It went on the market on a Thursday and she had an accepted offer by Sunday. Over the course of the weekend she saw 80 people come through the doors of that home. “I did a morning open house – which I never do – and I still had 40 people on Saturday and 40 on Sunday,” she said.

She noted some sellers are even waiting for several days to look at offers to allow for more to come in and create a bidding war.

“We have all these buyers and nothing to show them,” DeMelo said. “Once we get more inventory, things may start to change.”

Until then, she said, the limited selection is forcing agents to get creative when trying to find clients a new home. Where DeMelo once checked the listings once a day or so, she now looks at them seven or eight times a day, at different times, just to see if anything new is available. “I’m looking at what’s coming on every few hours,” she said. “We have to keep our eyes open.”

While she noted a lot of experts predicted the market would change with the new mortgage rules that recently came into effect, DeMelo said she hasn’t seen anything change.

“A lot of buyers have just given up,” she said of those struggling to find the right home.

Some buyers have walked away from entering the market because they can’t afford the rising prices or the high down payments needed, while still others are holding out until the spring, hoping that more homes will come on the market then.

But unfortunately, recent trends have seen inventory numbers slowly decline. “If we have less and less that will drive the demand up,” DeMelo said. “There’s still buyers … (but) there isn’t much available to grab.”

If you’ve been considering downsizing, selling a rental property or are looking to get out of the market, she added, “it’s an absolutely fantastic time to sell your house.”

In October 2015, according to the MLS Home Price Index, the benchmark value for a single family home in the Victoria core was $608,200. In October 2016, the benchmark value for the same home was $755,000.

“We continue to see low inventory hindering sales in the local market,” Victoria Real Estate Board president Mike Nugent said in a statement.

“Though our numbers are down from the record-setting pace set this summer, the market is still moving quickly and is still very competitive for certain properties. High demand areas like Saanich and Oak Bay continue to see multiple offers and areas in the West Shore are also seeing sales over listed prices. In other areas, prices remain firm because of high demand and extremely limited inventory.”

While DeMelo stopped short of trying to predict how long the market will continue at this brisk pace, she did note, “we’ve had a couple amazing years … (and) this may go on.”

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

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