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North Shore real estate market is hot again this spring

After a lacklustre pandemic spring in 2020, real estate sales have come roaring back - and this time the buyers are local

Low interest rates, pent-up demand and a year of spending a lot of time at home have fuelled a spring real estate boom on the North Shore, say local real estate agents.

It’s a bit of an echo of the gold rush real estate market that had North Shore property owners selling for stratospheric prices five years ago.

One big difference this time around: it’s locals, rather than foreigners, who are doing the lion’s share of the buying.

“This time around was so different,” said Calvin Lindberg, with Angell Hasman and Associates in West Vancouver. “There was no offshore buying.”

Realtors were as surprised as anyone else by the bullish turn in the real estate market.

A year ago, real estate agents were worried

Last year, the impacts of the pandemic hit hard in the spring – what has traditionally been the busiest time in real estate sales.

“We were all pretty concerned,” said Lindberg. “Numbers were the worst we had seen in a number of years.”

Last June, however, that began to change, and starting in January 2021 the market roared back to life full force, ushering in “three months of craziness,” said Lindberg. “We moved into an incredibly busy time.”

Sales to listings shot up in both North and West Vancouver. With limited inventory and pent-up demand from buyers, prices also spiked between January and April.

The median selling price for a detached home in North Vancouver was $1.9 million in April, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver – around 22 per cent higher than it was five years ago while the median price in West Vancouver was $3.3 million.

Apartments in North Vancouver have been going for an average of $700,000.

Seller's market prompts multiple offers

The seller’s market – particularly earlier this spring prompted instances of multiple offers being made on properties and some homes selling for over asking price, said Aaron Rossetti of Re/Max Rossetti Realty in North Vancouver. One home in North Vancouver recently sold for $300,000 over the listing price, said Rossetti.

With more properties starting to be listed and buyers tiring of the competitive market, that trend is starting to cool, he added.

Most desirable homes are still being snapped up quickly, though, he said.

“Ones that are selling are selling within a week.”

For those who have the money, moving up in the real estate market has proved attractive, especially as nobody is spending on things like vacations and many people are now working from home, said Lindberg.

Even the high end of the market – which took a hit when the foreign buyers tax was brought in in 2016 – has rebounded this spring.

“This year to date alone we’ve had 55 or 60 sales over $5 million in West Vancouver,” he said. Six of those sales were over $10 million.

Last year, seven waterfront properties sold in West Vancouver. But in the first four months of 2021, “we’ve already reached nine waterfront sales,” he said.

Most buyers are local people who’ve done well in business, he said.

High end of market also rebounding

Recent sales in the luxury real estate market include an 8,900-square-foot architecturally designed five-bedroom waterfront home at 3190 Travers Ave. that comes with a home theatre and a gym that sold for over $19 million in March. Another home, a 10,000-square-foot waterfront house at 4351 Erwin Dr., sold for $18 million in March.

Dundarave and Altamont continue to be popular neighbourhoods, said Lindberg.

So is Edgemont Village. “Anything that comes on the market there is gone,” he said. “That whole area is incredibly popular.”

Lynn Valley and Blueridge have also been popular with buyers, said Rossetti.

While the boom is now showing signs of cooling down from its height in March and April, agents are still busy.

Sales of condos and townhouses – which took a dip last year while buyers avoided communal spaces, including elevators – are also back, said Rossetti.

What’s selling now, said Rossetti, is “generally everything.”