When I first started writing this month’s report, my headline was “Stats that Matter”. This was suppose to be a response to regular headlines, often just borrowing analysts from real estate boards, about the lack of sales in the market right now. To which, I say, who cares? The total number of sales means very little to the average home buyer or seller. It does matter a lot to us REALTORS who depend on sales, so naturally this is a concern to our industry, but probably not you. The number of sales only really matters to the public in relation to how many listings there are, or, if you’re an analyst that wants to figure out how a lack of home sales will affect the overall economy.
Langley’s “Fake News”
But then the Langley Advance Times took the slow sales narrative a whole lot farther in their recent edition, with the headline reading, “Number of homes for sale in Langley swells as prices decline“. We didn’t even have neighbourhood benchmark numbers at the time, but I couldn’t not help but correct our local media:
The sales/active listing ratio has held steady over the past three months in Langley and has actually increased every month since January. Currently 21.4% of homes sell which is a balanced market.
Look closer at the stats.
There are two Langleys: Langley City detached home prices have been falling hard which, in our real estate board statistics, is pulling down the statistical price point. Brookswood has also suffered mainly because developers are pulling back and are waiting on the NCPs.
The benchmark Willoughby detached home price has increased from $1,005,100 in January to $1,034,200 in April. Walnut Grove has bumped from $881k in December to $900k in April.
Townhome and apartment prices have continued to increase in almost every community.
So while a glance at the overall statistics with the sensationalist headline may make it seem like the sky is falling, the reality is that prices in the Township of Langley’s largest neighbourhoods are NOT not actually falling and the market remains balanced.
The neighbourhoods that will continue to struggle are those that do not have a variety of product for multiple generations. High end and suburban sprawl Fort Langley and Brookswood do not have the product that the market needs for the future.
It’s one thing to focus on a few negative values, it’s quite another to be blatantly misleading and reporting the exact opposite of the truth.
Over the past 4 months, Langley real estate home values have reversed the trend that we saw from around May of 2018 until about November. This incremental, but consistent trend of increasing prices among all housing types has had only one small anomoly: the benchmark apartment price did decline between April and May from $419,800 to $418,100. Yet there is nothing to suggest that values are decreasing. Interestingly enough, the Advance Times doesn’t even mention any monthly increase in values – only a comparison to last years prices. How does this help buyers and sellers? It doesn’t. Nor is it relevant to their false headline. Prices AREN’T declining. Prices throughout Langley have increased throughout 2019, that’s the real news.
The other part of the headline – that listings are swelling (or ballooning, as the Langley Advance Times article states) – is at least somewhat factual, but misleading. Listings always increase in Spring. Is it higher than what we’ve seen over the past 5 years? Yes. But the past five years is a historical anomaly in itself. We are now at inventory levels that we saw throughout 2007-2014. This is what we want for a balanced market. Of course, what isn’t mentioned in the Langley Advance Times jaded article is that sales have also increased every month over the past 5 months proportional to the increase in listings.
In fact, the trend of the sales to listing ratio has, for the most part, been in favour of the sellers. The exception to this has been apartments, which has seen some cooling, yet 1 in 4 condos are still selling. Generally the industry considers 22%+ to be a “sellers market”. Most of Langley is still in a sellers market, yet we are still all so conditioned to a hyper-inflated market that it feels like things are softer than they are. Regardless of how we “feel”, however, the stats don’t lie. Prices are increasing and it’s important for an informed public to know this.
Aldergrove: Prices | Sales to Listing Ratios
After “bottoming out” in January at $679,700, Aldergrove single family homes had a good start to the year, climbing to $725,000 in April. Last month had a slight bump to $726,500. Aldergrove’s townhomes did the opposite, peaking in January at $431,700 before seeing extremely small declines until April. However, May recovered some of this, with an increase back to $428,500 (someone call the media!). I won’t really comment on Aldergrove’s apartment condo market because there are only 6 listings and has only been 1-3 sales per month.
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Brookswood: Prices | Sales to Listing Ratios
Brookswood prices have been in free fall since August of last year, dropping from a peak of $1,038,100 for the typical home to $911,400 in April. The good news for Brookswood homeowners is that May finally bucked the trend, jumping back up to $934,000.
View Brookswood Listings: Single Family | Townhome | Apartment
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Fort Langley: Prices | Sales to Listing Ratios
Fort Langley has had only 15 detached sales so far this year, 4 of which were in May. However, more listings keep coming on the market, which is pushing prices down in this higher end neighbourhood. The “typical” Fort Langley home, which increasingly looks like “land value only”, fell from $1,204,000 to $1,087,100 in January, before climbing to $1,120,900 by April. However, soft sales has pushed that benchmark down to $1,103,400. There is a lot of competition out there between sellers, so one could expect to see weaker prices through the rest of the year.
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Langley City: Prices | Sales to Listing Ratios
Langley City was one of the hardest hit areas during the 2018 market downturn. May’s peak of $961,500 was short lived as prices rapidly declined and, with one exception in October, didn’t reverse until just last month, eventually reaching $802,400. These are shocking losses for our region. May’s numbers offered some hope, with Langley City detached homes resting at $816,100. Townhomes faired better, with a peak of $485,800 in June 2018 and a low of $427,900 in Feburary 2019, the typical townhome in the city are now at $447,000. However, the sales to listing ratio plummeted last month to 15.7% so this climb may not last. While apartment listings have been ballooning in Langley City, sales are booming, which has kept the sales to listing ratio in check at around 1 in 4 condos selling. The benchmark condo is selling for $415,900, down from its high of $462,100 last April.
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Murrayville: Prices | Sales to Listing Ratios
Murrayville single family homes also reached a peak in August 2018 at $1,137,500 and bottomed at $1,007,100 just 5 months later in January. Prices have held steady, currently at $1,015,500 for your typical Murrayville detached home. Murrayville’s 8 townhome sales represent over 60% of its active inventory, so its safe to say now is a great time to sell such a rare commodity. Townhome prices slid from a June 2018 high of $676,200 to $597,100 this February, but have since recovered to $622,800. Murrayville’s 4 apartment sales aren’t enough to make any significant comments on the market.
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Walnut Grove: Prices | Sales to Listing Ratios
Walnut Grove single family homes peaked early around this time last year at $984,400, steadily declining until it hit $881,100 in December. Since them, prices have been rising and are now at $908,300. Townhomes peaked around July at $523,300 and hit a low of $467,000 this March. The typical Walnut Grove townhome is now valued around $481,600 with the sales to listing ratio rising in favour of sellers each month. Speaking of in favour of sellers, almost half of every listed apartment condo in the neighbourhood sold last month. Although prices dipped a bit month over month, I expect this to reverse in June. The typical Walnut Grove apartment currently sits at $447,900 after a high of $470,600 in May 2018 and a low of $418,200 in January.
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Willoughby: Prices | Sales to Listing Ratios
The Township of Langley’s largest neighbourhood continues to post strong evaluations across housing types. Although only 11.7% of single family homes in April sold and 14.3% in March, prices continue to steadily rise. Last May was the peak of the market with the typical detached homes reaching $1,103,900 but this fell to $1,000,400 by November. Since then, Willoughby has seen a steady uptick, now at $1,038,400. Willoughby’s townhome benchmark also peaked last May at $557,900. January was the weakest value at $504,100, but small increases has brought that figure back up to $522,400. Although a new batch of listings has hit the apartment market, 2019 remains to be a favourable year for sellers. The January low point of $369,500 has been forgotten as the current benchmark is $395,800. It should be cautioned, however, that this is down slightly from April’s $398,800 and significantly from last year’s peak of $419,500.