Six Vancouver Real Estate Tips

                                                                 Illustrations: Francis Tremblay 


1. Unleash the Predator Within


Prices drop when supply exceeds demand. An easy and absurdly accurate way to assess the market is to divide total MLS inventory by total monthly sales. If the result comes in much higher than 7, falling prices are imminent. You need to be on this like a hawk. And remember to compare each month not just to its predecessor but to the same month a year earlier, as trends are seasonal. (For monthly data see the real estate board’s website at



2. Hire an Enforcer


Now more than ever, you need an agent-but not just any agent. You’re looking for a combination of intimate market knowledge, capacity for hard work, and an instinct for blood. A fourth-liner type who understands his or her role, which is to do whatever it takes to land you a screaming bargain



3. This May Get a Little Rough


The majority of sellers aren’t in distress mode and won’t be for some time. How can you find the few who are? By making despicable, bottom-feeder offers 10, 20, or even 30 percent below asking. If there’s no counter-offer, they’re not ready (not yet). If there is, negotiations begin. Walk away if they won’t meet you somewhere in the middle-there are lots of places and there’s little to lose by waiting


For more real estate insights, see Vancouver: Not as Expensive as You Think

See also: Where to Buy in B.C. Now 



4. There’s Beauty, and then there’s Beauty 


In a hot market almost everything sells. In cooler times the best places still go but others just sit. Pick one of these up for hundreds of thousands off and you’ll have money left for renos-and when real estate is soft, the cost of renovations also goes down



5. Keep an Eye on the East


If the feds re-energize immigration, sales will increase and prices will jump within months. In the suburbs, major industrial projects will have a similar effect. On the Gulf Islands, the price of oil, gas, and wheat are considerations, since so many buyers come from Back East




6. Know How to Pick Your Battles


Is there an intrinsic reason why the benchmark index for detached houses on the West Side should be almost six times higher than on the Sunshine Coast? Or does it have to do with highly localized market forces-probably temporary-that pushed one category up 29 percent over the past five years while punishing the other by 10? By the same token, some experts caution about condos, yet apartments are no more expensive today than they were five years ago. There’s the rule that you’re better off looking at housing types that haven’t been booming, but there’s a corollary, too, which is that as conditions change, overpriced sectors are most likely to harbour distressed sellers, so the bargain hunting may be good


For more real estate insights, see Vancouver: Not as Expensive as You Think 

See also: Where to Buy in B.C. Now