Sellers struggle as housing prices slump in Vancouver

Sellers struggle as housing prices slump in Vancouver

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Greg Jeanine is one of hundreds of Metro Vancouver property owners frustrated by futile attempts to sell their condos, townhouses and homes in a market where sales and prices have slumped.

His two-bedroom condo in East Vancouver on Eton Street, priced around $300,000, has been on the market for three months.

"There are lots of showings," said Jeanine, 31, who wants to buy a larger townhouse for his family. "People are just afraid to make a commitment to buy.

"They're nervous because people in the news say pricings are going down," he said.

September sales were 41.6 per cent below the 10-year September average of 2,597, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

Sales of detached properties fell 37.9 per cent to 594, from 957 a year ago, while the benchmark price decreased 0.5 per cent to $935,600.

Apartment property sales totalled 676, down 26.7 per cent from 922 sales a year ago, while the benchmark price dropped 0.7 per cent to $368,600.

Cameron Muir, chief economist of the B.C. Real Estate Association, thinks sales will pick up soon.

Interest rates are at "near historic lows," the population is increasing and the job market has improved, he says.

And housing prices are flat.

The MLS benchmark price for all residential properties sold in Greater Vancouver is $606,100, a decline of 0.8 per cent compared with this time last year.

But the increase of residential property listings to 18,350 - an increase of 14.1 per cent over this time last year - is another reason Real Estate Board president Eugen Klein called the condition a buyer's market.

Also complicating the market are recently-changed rules concerning Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation insurance, which is required for mortgages where the down payment is less than 20 per cent of the purchase price.

Amortization rates for such mort-gages were dropped to 25 years from 30 years, which cuts the amount homeowners pay in the long-term but raises what they pay monthly.

"There's been a clear reduction in buyer demand in the three months since the federal government eliminated the availability of a 30-year amortization on government insured mort-gages," said Klein in a statement.

"This makes homes less affordable for the people of the region."

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