A line stretched up a newly poured sidewalk in Langley, B.C. on Saturday as hopeful home buyers queued for a chance to get into Metro Vancouver’s red-hot housing market.
Abdel Hadar was one of several people in that line, some staying for days to sign a pre-sale agreement to buy one of the townhomes on offer, worth between $739,000 and $959,000.
“My goal is to live. I’m moving to live,” he said. “A lot of people are investors or speculators, just trying to [snap up] the cheapest units to rent it out or re-assign later on. But I’m buying to live.”
The competition for new townhomes like the ones in Langley, which are part of Latimer Heights, a 30-hectare planned community under contruction just off Highway 1, is one example of how hot the region’s housing market is right now. The municipality is about 45 kilometres east of Vancouver.
Low interest rates, pent-up demand and homeowners searching for more space during the pandemic are driving sales, according to people in the industry.
“We’ve had record highs again for another three months in a row,” said Larry Anderson, president of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.
This week the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said sales in the region have continued at a record-setting pace.
Residential home sales covered by the board totalled 5,708 in March 2021, up 126.1 per cent from March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and up 53.2 per cent from February 2021.
Rural and suburban areas have experienced the biggest spikes.
Kent Sillars, president of Vesta Properties, the developer and builder of the Latimer Heights project in Langley, said he didn’t expect home sales to be where they are now a year ago.
“The demand has definitely increased,” he said.
“It’s kind of funny because last year when everything blew up with COVID we expected the demand would decrease but it’s kind of had the opposite effect and caught everyone by surprise.”
Real estate agent Eugene Oh was also in line Saturday trying to secure a unit for his client.
“In this market you have to do whatever you have to do as an agent,” he said.
Industry insiders hope that once the threat of the pandemic eases due to widespread vaccinations, more homes will come on the market from sellers who have been holding back.
Anderson says right now, there just isn’t enough supply to meet demand.
“What we’re hoping to see is as soon as the vaccinations roll out and everyone feels comfortable, we may see more people putting their houses onto the market because we still have the issue that people do not feel safe,” he said.