By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Jan. 6, 2013
Thinking of buying a home in Squamish?
Well, this might be the best time to buy, and more so if you are interested in living in a condo.
There were 368 homes for sale in Squamish in November, of which 77 were listed as apartment and condos.
Condo prices have also gone south in the last one year.
In Nov. 2011, for example, the median price of a condo was $282,000.
This November, the median price of a condo was $239,000, almost $43,000 cheaper than last year.
“I’d say it’s a buyers’ market for condos and townhomes,” says Peter Belostotsky, a realtor with Century 21 in Squamish.
Belostotsky said over all the real estate market has been sluggish, although single detached homes tend to sell relatively quickly than condos and townhomes.
But even that observation comes with a caveat.
“A single detached home will sell more quickly, as long as it’s good quality home,” he said.
“It’s got be clean, it’s got to have updates to it, some people want newer homes.”
Squamish residents and real estate agents will recall the heady, pre-Olympics time when a house could be listed in the morning and gone by the evening.
That was just five years ago, but seems like a dream now.
Just look at the stats.
According to MLS, there were 351 sales in 2011.
Five years ago, there were 725 homes sold in Squamish, more than double of what sold last year.
Squamish has since returned from that feverish peak, but it’s still not clear what the new normal is or would be in the coming few years.
“Since 2008, the Squamish real estate market has seen prices fall by approximately 15 per cent and sales activity by up to 50 per cent,” said Sean Brawley, a real estate agent with Macdonald Realty.
A weak local economy and tighter regulation have squeezed the market.
Tighter regulation that reduced the amortization from 30 years to 25 years also dampened the real estate market in B.C.
After the regulation came into effect, the dollar value of homes sold through MLS declined 28.5 per cent according to BC Real Estate Association.
A new BMO survey suggests many Canadian homeowners have made cutbacks in the past year to make mortgage payments, although 46 per cent intend to buy a property in the next five years.
Still, both Brawley and Belostotsky are confident in the future of Squamish.
“I see first-time home buyers from Whistler and one-uppers (second purchase) from Vancouver who need more room to start a family,” said Brawley.
He said the town needs more affordable housing to attract young families, and do a better job on providing transit for commuters.
New developments such as Oceanfront and Garibaldi at Squamish can also give a much needed boost to the local economy, said Belostotsky.
“It might be slow, but Squamish has a bright future,” he said.