Langley editorial: Should the real estate sector be regulated?

Did you sell in time?

The real estate madness of recent years seems to have cooled.

Sure, it was a financial boon for most sellers but unless a homeowner was downsizing or leaving the Lower Mainland, buying was also exponentially more expensive.

The current benchmark price for a detached home is $1,579,400.

The benchmark price of an apartment property (condo) is $511,800, but that’s still 23.5 per cent higher than the price was in September 2015.

The provincial government’s 15-per-cent foreign buyer tax seems to have been the cold shower many people were calling for.

Now the initial numbers are in from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). Metro Vancouver home sales dipped below the 10-year monthly sales average last month. This is the first time in the region since May 2014.

Metro Vancouver home sales totalled 2,253 in September 2016, which is a decrease of 32.6 per cent from the 3,345 sales in September 2015 and a decrease of 9.5 per cent compared to the 2,489 homes sold in August 2016.

This wasn’t a burst bubble or Depression-like collapse. Last month’s sales were 9.6 per cent below the 10-year sales average for the month.

Now the federal government has brought in tighter rules to ensure people don’t take on mortgages that are too big for them to afford.

The choice is between government oversight and regulating the market, which tends to keep prices in check or a more free market approach that allows for more illicit activity and results in wild price fluctuations. The side a person tends to favour typically depends on whether they are buying or selling.

– H.C.

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