The craze for housing in Langley began this summer with bidding wars for houses, and it wound down with people camping out for more than a week to catch coveted condos.
Shirley Thomasson and her husband Arni were like many retired couples in the Lower Mainland: they were looking to downsize.
They had already looked at possibly buying into the Parkside condos north of 80th Avenue along 208th Street.
“We particularly wanted a corner unit, which were all sold out,” said Shirley.
She and Arni were told that when the Parkside 1 condo went up for sale, there was a lineup for five days in advance outside the sales centre.
“My husband was just eager to get the one we had chosen,” Shirley said. That was how the couple wound up camping out in shifts, with their grandkids, for eight days up to Sept. 12, for a chance to buy their favoured unit in Parkside 2.
As soon as they turned up on Sept. 4, people noticed. The developer, Quadra Homes, put up tents outside the sales centre to keep the future buyers dry, and within a few days there were 20 people lined up with lawn chairs, sleeping bags, and camp stoves.
Most of the people there were hoping to snag a condo for themselves, or for a family member. (The Thomassons were being spelled at night by their teenaged grandchildren.)
But others were there as paid placeholders. Calvin Adams had just moved to the Lower Mainland from Prince George when he spotted an ad on Craigslist looking for someone to sit in line for $200 a day for four days to secure a spot.
“They don’t line up for anything up there, especially not a condo,” said Adams.
All of those people are waiting for a project that won’t be finished until late in 2016. Parkside 2 is currently a concrete foundation.
“We have a lot of people who have been waiting for this phase for more than a year,” said Sean Bouchard. He attributed the demand to the Parkside condos having features not seen in other developments.
However, while Sold Out signs are going up at nearby popular townhouse projects as well, single-family homes appear to be even more popular.
Real estate agents have reported that bidding wars began again this summer over houses in most neighbourhoods of Langley.
“Such limited supply of inventory,” said realtor Jonathan Erickson. “So when things come up, it’s too many buyers fighting for the same house.”
Erickson was hoping that things would be better as the fall began, with more houses on the market and slightly fewer buyers.
He estimated that there were anywhere from two to 10 bidders for any given house, with he average around three to four.
Realtor Alf Deglen said it appears to already be slowing down a little bit.
“For everybody, it was real stressful,” he said of the hot housing market.
He also described it as a shortage of single-family housing.
The shortage is not likely to be reduced much for people set on a single-family house, at least not in Langley Township.
From January to August this year builders in Langley Township created 177 single family homes, about the same as last year’s 171 over the same period.
However, in the same period in 2015, 625 multi-family homes, townhouses and condos, were created. That’s u from the 466 created January-August last year.
The vast majority of new construction in Langley Township, 54 per cent, also continues to be in the Willoughby area, where most new units are townhouses.
For those moving into the Parkside in a year or so, the long wait just to buy hasn’t been a bad thing.
“We’ve already met our neighbours, it’s the coolest thing,” said Georgie Westbrook, one of those waiting.