Just how hot is Langley’s housing market?
The stats tell the story: Fraser Valley real estate hit a historical high in March, setting the record for sales processed in one month since the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board’s (FVREB) inception in 1921.
The FVREB covers Langley, North Delta, North Surrey, Surrey, Cloverdale, South Surrey and White Rock, Abbotsford, and Mission.
In March, the FVREB processed 3,006 sales on its Multiple Listing Service (MLS), an increase of 62 per cent compared to March 2015 and 26 per cent more then was processed in February.
The previous record of 2,720 processed sales was set in March of 1991.
This, despite the soaring costs of real estate in southwestern B.C.
In Langley, the benchmark price for a single detached home was $747,900 last month (benchmark price represents a typical property within each market).
This marked a 26.5 per cent jump from the previous March, and 65.3 per cent higher in price than a decade ago.
The trend continues with Langley townhouses, which averaged out to sell for $355,700 (benchmark price) in March.
That’s a 20.2 per cent price increase from March 2015, and 42.8 per cent more expensive than the same month in 2006.
Apartments also rose in price (on average) from a year previous, with a benchmark price in March of $224,600. That’s up 15.9 per cent from last March and 23.5 per cent more costly than 10 years ago.
Rising prices aren’t slowing down the market locally, however, even when it comes to detached homes. A total of 260 detached homes were sold in Langley in March, a 59.5 per cent increase from the previous March.
And homes – especially the single detached variety – are getting snapped up quickly.
Across the Fraser Valley, the average number of days to sell a single family detached home in March was 17, compared to 43 in March 2015.
While real estate market is hot, the number of homebuyers 35 years old and younger is relatively small.
Matt McGill, a real estate agent with HomeLife Benchmark Realty, estimated that buyers in the 35-and-under crowd make up 25 per cent of his clientele.
This doesn’t mean that buying a home is unattainable for Millennials, McGill stressed.
The first step they need to do is sit down with a trusted mortgage broker and a trusted realtor and set up a game plan, because each plan is tailored to the individual, McGill said.
“The plan starts off with being realistic and not trying to purchase something that is over your head financially,” McGill said. “Usually the first step would be a condo.”
With the ever changing market, McGill said, it’s essential for first time homebuyer to have experienced people on their side.
“The way we sell homes today is very different from the way we sold homes six months ago,” he said.
McGill worries about the expectations of the younger generations, relating his own homebuying experience.
“When I was 19 I bought a condo and it wasn’t the nicest piece of real estate in the world but it was a start,” McGill said. “Then we sold the condo and bought a townhouse, fixed it up and sold it.”
At 28 he had enough equity to buy his first house.
“Every one of these, I put my own sweat equity and upgrades to, which in turn added value to the homes,” McGill said. “As parents we need to teach our children realistic expectations from a young age.”
McGill said what first time homebuyers look for, and what they should look for, are two different things.
When you look at the Willoughby/Yorkson area, he noted, 3,000 square foot lots with 3,600 square foot homes “could be more of a depreciating asset” than a 2,500 square foot home on 10,000 square foot lot.
“If you want to buy something to increase your equity position, we feel land is key,” McGill said, adding, “We are seeing a lot of people buy homes with family. In my eyes this is very good solution to a very common problem. Mom and dad want to downsize and travel and the kids want a house and a yard.”
He continued, “One thing I have learned in real estate is that wants always sell better then needs, so keep this in mind when you decide to create your buying plan.”
McGill said “certainly, the influx Asian of buyers is helping drive the Langley market,” however, with that being said, “the value proposition of the Langley market is phenomenal.”
“We have all the amenities – we have everything that everyone in the Lower Mainland wants at a fraction of the price and with the new bridge it makes commuting really easy,” McGill said. “The Langley lifestyle is being embraced by those coming from the other side of the river. We have great schools, parks,business opportunities, people are figuring out what Langley residents have known for years.”