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Did I get your attention? Good. My apologies in advance to use such a response eliciting headline, but that is exactly the point this blog will be all about.



(this heading above by the way may, or may not, be false. Let me explain later on)



As a mentor of mine says so well, “Attention is the new currency.” Knowing that it is no surprise that the media wants to get your attention. Their very own existence depends on it. They need advertising revenue, which comes from readers (whether it be online or print) to sustain their businesses. While there is certainly nothing wrong with that business model, I do have some issues with the tactics they use to gain your attention.



We all can agree that as proud residents of the Lower Mainland, everyone is completely obsessed with real estate. We need to know what happened to our neighbour's home down the street. We love to look online at our future dream home. REALTOR®.ca is open to a saved tab on our iPads for easy access. We all are also guilty of devouring clickbait when it comes to the stories surrounding the prices of the homes in our communities.



The media knows this. Slow news day? Put something out about real estate prices and watch the readers click away. An article came out last week that really shook some of my clients and many of my colleagues. It had a catchy headline, a big buzz word attached to it and it announced yet poorly described what is truly important to a local homeowner. The price of their home.



CMHC sees home prices falling up to 18%



My goal with this blog is to help you dissect some of the attention-grabbing headlines we see all the time in Vancouver and surrounding areas.


First, let’s start by noticing some of the buzz words used all too frequently.



  • plummet ie. Sales of North Vancouver homes plummet by 32%
  • crash ie. The great real estate crash of 2020
  • bottom ie. When will Vancouver real estate prices see the bottom?
  • flatline  ie. Is real estate in the Lower Mainland about to flatline?
  • drop ie. Sales in Canada drop by 54% in 1 month


While there are many more buzz words that could be used, there is no denying that they certainly grab the attention of anyone that owns a home. This is the point which ties in nicely to the second part of the media's next little trick, using statistics to grab your attention, most of the time completely irrelevant to your home.



  • CMHC predicts up to 18% drop in home prices
  • Metro Vancouver home sales fall 44 percent in May 2020
  • April 2020 sales on par with 1983 through to 1985 numbers


Where this gets interesting, is everything above is a real headline released within the last few weeks.



So what does a homeowner do? Freak out? Sell everything and move onto a boat? 



The answer: get educated.


Here are a few facts.


There is no such thing as a national housing market. There is no such thing as a provincial housing market. There is no such thing as a municipal housing market. There is, however, such a thing as a hyper-local, house-type dependant housing market.


How about a few more facts?


A reduction in sales volume does not equate to anything other than a reduction in sales volume. The market for detached homes in West Vancouver has zero relation to the market for condominiums in Cloverdale. The opinion of a journalist/economist/media organization is always just that, an opinion. A reduction in sales volume has little reflection or relation to what is happening with prices. It could in conjunction along with may other factors, but sales are not the single driver of the effect on pricing.



Here are 4 magazine covers from 2009-2013 from Maclean's magazine, a pretty trusted publication. They are a little concerning….



My snarky comment would be for anyone waiting around for the great crash in Metro Vancouver since 2009-2013, how did that work out for you?


The benchmark price of real estate in the Fraser Valley in January 2013 was $446,700. In January 2020, it was $824,200.


So much for those predictions… I bet these headlines and cover pages paralyzed a lot of people from making decisions too.



So how about the most recent one as mentioned above…


CMHC sees home prices falling up to 18%



Now that we know a little more, let’s make the headline a little more clear.


  1. This is a national, approximated number. I live in the Scottsdale area of North Delta BC, not in the general Canadian real estate market this refers to. My local market has nothing to do with what is happening, in let’s say, Regina. (Sorry Regina)
  2. This is an opinion. Not to say it is not educated and researched, yet if they have the world’s first crystal ball, I would love to see it.
  3. Will all sales equally fall 18% across the board in Canada? Or is there such things as a hyper-local market for each community. (Hint… yes there is)


As you can see, you need to look past the headline and start asking better questions.



So when it comes time to cut through the noise when it comes to real estate in the media, always remember these key reminders



Watch for buzz words- If they use a buzz word, they are trying to get your attention



Dissect the information used- As Mark Twain famously said “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” His point? Statistics can be manipulated to create whatever point the author is trying to make.



Get your own information. Ask me (or your REALTOR® if you already have one) for information specific to your home.



Your home is not a statistic- Every sale is different and the market changes every day. 

remember real estate is hyper-local- The biggest thing that affects the value of your home is the supply and demand for the type of home you have in your neighbourhood. Forget the noise about any opinions or statistics that are out of the local area, provincial or national information.



Real estate is (and should be) a long term game- Prices can and will fluctuate however history has shown us repeatedly that slumping values in Metro Vancouver are short term. While there is no guarantee the future will predict the present, I bet anyone that pressed pause on their home buying since 2009 until now sincerely wishes they had no clicked on the link about falling home sales or prices Canada wide. The housing market is not the stock market, so be careful not to mix the two when it comes to the idea of sudden changing values.



Armed with this knowledge, you now will be better-equipped to read these articles from an informed position being able to better question the real message behind the headline. For those of  you that choose to get your real estate information from local media, be weary of or simply avoid the clickbait and take it for what it is in most cases, entertainment rather than relevant information.



Until next time,


Darin



Read full post

The 3 most commonly misunderstood media driven real estate statistics

 

The media, in an attempt to feed the public's insatiable appetite for real estate news, often publishes interesting pieces of real estate information that help sell papers. Due to constant heavy dose of statistical information, it's important to understand how the data is collected and how to interpret these facts.

Below are the 3 most commonly misunderstood real estate statistics in the media:

 

 

1) Pace of Canadian Housing Starts Up


http://globalnews.ca/news/627941/pace-of-canadian-housing-starts-up-in-may/

 

This shouldn't really matter to buyers or sellers out there. While this is related to the real estate market, it is more relevant for the construction industry than it is to the resale housing market.

Remember, these are new home construction figures: not sales or pricing numbers. Unless you're a construction worker or materials' supplier, this type of information is largely irrelevant to your real estate decision-making process.

 

2) Home Sales Drop!


http://business.financialpost.com/2013/04/03/toronto-vancouver-home-sales-fall-sharply-in-march/?__lsa=ca1a-ee8a

 

This kind of information is important for buyers and sellers to know and also helpful for realtors to use. A drop in home sales is sometimes a precursor to lower prices down the road. That said, there are a multitude of reasons that home sales could slow that wouldn't also result in a corresponding drop in prices.

It is therefore important to remember that these are unit sale figures, not price figures. These statistics also generally need to be seasonally adjusted to reflect the fact that sales tend to be slower in the winter and summer as opposed to the spring and fall. You should talk to a professional to see whether a drop in sales velocity is because of a slowing market or because of some other extraneous event.

 

3) Average House Prices Rise 6.5%!


http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2011/10/17/crea-housing-september.html

 

This is the most misunderstood of the media reports that come out because averages are a terrible metric to measure house prices.

This is because the type of home that is sold in a given month strongly influences the outcome. For instance, if a lot of luxury homes are sold one month, then the average price of homes will go up, even if the typical home price doesn't change. This is exactly what has already happened in Vancouver, where the average price has risen 5.4% year over year, but the typical home price has fallen (see graph below).

 

% change in home prices year-over-year
(June 2012 to June 2013)
City Average price MLS Home Price Index Teranet-National Bank HPI
Vancouver +5.4% -4.27% -3.24%
Calgary +2.6% +6.87% +5.84%
Toronto +4.9% +2.78% +3.87%
Montreal +0.8% +3.57% +1.92%
 
Remember to always read real estate statistics with an eye to these issues and you'll become a more accurate analyst of the market.

 

For a more complete analysis of these statistics, please feel free to contact me at the email address or phone number above.

Read full post
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