Mike Hartshorne and Jenn Raappana stand outside a recently sold home in Westhills

HOMEFINDER: Region’s fall home sales show strong growth

The leaves may be falling, but home sales are rising

The West Shore and Greater Victoria as a whole saw a lot of sales for the month of October, according to the Victoria Real Estate Board.

No stranger to selling houses, real estate agent Mike Hartshorne of DFH Real Estate-West Shore, has won numerous MLS and DFH awards for selling homes throughout the region. “It’s just been going and going,” he said. “It seems to be there’s not much supply and a lot of buyers.”

He said he’s had a lot of people approach him wanting to either sell their home or do some kind of transition in the market, but have not been able to get a price that allowed them to make the move. Now he’s seeing those sellers move on the current market conditions. “People are moving forward with their sales,” he said.

In fact, the VREB saw 734 properties sold, an increase of almost 22 per cent and up from the 602 properties sold in the same month last year.

However, while sales were up, active listings were down. October of last year saw just under 4,000 active listings, this October only saw just under 3,200. This trend has been seen for much of the year.

Guy Crozier, VREB president, said in a release this is the 29th month in a row that has seen monthly increases over the year before. “This month we also saw sales numbers surpass the total for last year,” he said.

As of Oct. 31 there were 7,257 sales on record with two months to go, up from the 6,698 sales recorded in 2014. “We’re looking down the home stretch of 2015 and there is no sign of a market slowdown,” Crozier said.

Hartshorne attributes the surge of buyers to a sense of economical stability that many people are feeling, and of course, “interest rates are a big part of it.”

“It’s not an unrealistic market. It doesn’t feel like a very panic-induced buying market.” While he’s seeing properties move quickly, he said there aren’t a lot of desperate offers being made for well over the asking price. “It’s pretty close to balanced in areas,” adding some areas might lean a little more in the seller’s favour due to a lower number of active listings.

The last year and a half has been really strong. Hartshorne said normally the market sees strong sales in the spring, a drop off in the summer with a spike in the fall and then a drop off again until the following spring. The market hasn’t seen those dips lately and has been carrying on at a constant, he said.

While sales have been strong, the real enigma of the market is active listing numbers, which Hartshorne said have been struggling to meet par with last year’s numbers. “I don’t know why listings aren’t higher. There’s no good answer,” he said. “It’s weird that it never catches up.”

His advice for sellers: knowing what competition is on the market and what it is listed at will help set a reasonable listing price. He said a well-priced home in a good area such as the West Shore should see a lot of activity or even an offer quickly.

Hartshorne also recommends making sure your home is putting its best self forward before going on the market. Making a home more palatable to as many different potential buyers as possible can help bring in more offers quickly. He recommends making sure the front entrance is well kept with no chipping paint and de-cluttering personal items so the home will feel as fresh and as large as possible.

For potential buyers, he suggests making sure all of the financial aspects are prepared. “Pre-approval is a really good idea right now. You don’t want to have any surprises.” He said financing can very quickly make a deal fall apart when all of the paperwork isn’t already completed. “Do your work ahead of time and know exactly what your range is.”

Another key is to closely watch the market and be ready to move on any listings your agent is sending you.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

Q: How do you keep on top of a fast-moving market?

With houses moving quickly at fair prices, it’s important for potential buyers and sellers to be prepared before dipping their toes into the market.

Victoria Real Estate Board president Guy Crozier’s advice for potential buyers is to work closely with Realtors to stay on top of the market and find the perfect home.

He said with home sales almost at the pace of new listings, the market is moving quickly and some homes in high-demand areas are selling in a matter of days.

He suggests working with a Realtor to carefully plot out what you require, as a buyer or a seller, over the course of the transaction. This can also help remove some stress and risk from the process.

Agent Mike Hartshorne of DFH Real Estate-West Shore said both sellers and buyers need to be prepared before moving on the market. He said the best way to do that is by making sure as much work as possible can be done ahead of time and by staying up-to-date with your Realtor.

He said something as minor as a missing document needed by a mortgage broker can derail a sale and pre-approval for financing is key.

GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » MONTH ENDING OCT. 31  COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD

» 734 / 602 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES / TOTAL, OCTOBER 2014

» 925 / 945 –NEW LISTINGS / TOTAL, OCTOBER 2014

» 3,170 / 3,927 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / TOTAL, OCTOBER 2014

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