We spoke with Holly Wood from Sotheby’s International Realty. As a leading Vancouver Realtor, Holly Wood has been successfully selling real estate for over a decade.
Holly is a Certified Luxury Homes Marketing Realtor who specializes in Residential Luxury View and Waterfront properties. Proudly servicing Downtown along the most coveted spectacular waterfront locations, Vancouver, West and North Vancouver, Burnaby and Coquitlam.
A Certified Property Manager, 20 year plus local resident and proud to call British Columbia her home. Whether it’s detached homes, brand new construction, condos, penthouse condos, town homes, pre-sale construction or land, no one will work harder or smarter for you, than Holly Wood.
Tell us about yourself?
I chose to be a realtor as the lifestyle and self employed hours were perfect for me having two small children back in 2005.
I had always been in some sort of sales job before. I have always enjoyed being with the public and helping working with people. I was with Remax for almost 10 years and have been with Sotheby’s International Realty for the last 4 years. I finally feel at home working for the top luxury international homes marketing company in the world with offices globally.
Our marketing program is second to none and we represent properties from over 400,000 to 25 million. Regardless the price of a home we offer the same consistent top notch service when marketing your most prized possession, your home.
We at Sotheby’s have a team and office on the North Shore, Vancouver’s West Side, Downtown, Kelowna Victoria and Whistler.
I also have a great team and network that I work closely with in Montreal, Toronto, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Paris, Melbourne and other fantastic international locations around the world.
From Notaries, to Inspectors, Mortgage Brokers to skilled trade’s people, this impressive Rolodex of contacts comes only with experience.
What is happening in the Vancouver housing market?
We knew that at some point the smoking-hot real estate market in Vancouver would slow, even decline. The latest data and stats suggest the Metro Vancouver housing market will be mired in difficulties this year and perhaps even next year.
The current market reminds me very much of our 2008 market. However back then the market bounced back very quickly in the Spring of 2009.
Why the slow down in Vancouver?
What is different now to the 2008 housing crisis, is that we are now facing a number of taxes affecting foreign buyers including the speculation tax, empty homes tax and foreign buyers’ tax of 20%. These taxes have put a tremendous damper on the housing market.
There has also been an increase in the property transfer tax with any properties over 2 million paying 3%. Mortgage rates are higher. School Taxes have gone up targeting homes over 3 million, with 0.2 percent on homes between 3-4 million and an extra 0.4 percent on properties over 4 million.
With stricter mortgage qualifications, stress tests and rising interest rates buyers are struggling to qualify and to achieve ownership in this difficult time.
What makes the Vancouver housing market unique?
Vancouver certainly is unique. We have the warmest winters in all of Canada, plus Vancouver is beautiful and breathtakingly scenic.
Where else can you live downtown and not need a car, and can walk and or bus to all amenities and conveniences?
We have our own Central park downtown, our Stanley park, where we can walk, bike or roller blade.
We are only 30 minutes away from downtown to 3 top ski hills and an hour and a half away from Whistler which offers world class skiing. We have top schools, clean air and breath-taking scenery. Generally, we are a safe place to live and have a sound banking system.
All this makes Vancouver a very popular and sought after place to live.
Do you think its a good time to buy?
I predict sales to be slow and sluggish. However it is important to remember that Downtown Vancouver is its own unique micro market compared to the rest of Canada.
What goes up must come down. Now is a good time to buy if you are a cash buyer. There are lots of deals to be found. The market will go up again, but it will take some time to rebound.
There are however certain locations, buildings, floor plans and or areas which will always sell fast, especially if priced well.
Life happens and people have to move either to upsize or downsize. People have to move to relocate with a company from city to city, divorce, marry, pass on, and or have children, go bankrupt etc.
Buyers are for now in a wait and see holding pattern, but if they do find their dream home they should jump in, because everyone needs a home to live in anyway.
The real estate market wheels were constantly moving in the past, but now are stuck. SO, for example if a seller cannot sell their home in Coquitlam or West Vancouver to downsize to downtown, then they can’t buy downtown.
That’s a very common scenario that we are seeing at present. There are many sellers that cannot sell to buy different properties. This is the case for those wanting to upsize and for empty nesters wanting to downsize.
Any advice for those trying to sell a house in Vancouver?
Sellers, my advice is if you get an offer, and it is a no subjects clean offer you should take it!!! Especially if you need that money to buy another property. Because you should be able to get a deal on your new purchase and they will both offset each other.
It is important for sellers to adjust their price points mindsets and expectations to the new market trends in 2019. They shouldn’t feel bad, yes its humbling to say the least, but if you can sell now you are very lucky in this challenging market.
It doesn’t matter what sold last year this year is a different market.
Remember as well that there are many buyers coming from Canada back east Toronto and Ottawa for example. People moving here for work or retiring somewhere warmer.
What is the average listing time for houses in Vancouver at present? And what sells fast?
Average time days on market can be up to 2-3 months for higher priced properties. However it can be a few days for certain locations, views, addresses and or floor plans.
The hot markets price points are downtown west side, where condos with 2 beds are under 900 000, and 2 bed condos under 1,3 million on the waterfront for example in Coal Harbour. Certain buildings and plans sell fast.
Downtown is still a very good market and Squamish is very busy as well.
For the foreign buyers many of them have gone. However in China you cannot own anything because it is lease hold, so the rich will still buy here as they own freehold clear title. This is something no money can buy for them in China.
Again, average days on market depends on the price point and the area in question.
How have the foreign taxes imposed affected locals in Vancouver?
Most of the governments newly imposed taxes I feel have actually hurt local home owners more as opposed to the foreign buyers.
Why penalize local people for having second homes? In my opinion it just doesn’t make any sense.
What are buyers doing to try to get around these taxes?
Potential buyers are looking at ways around paying these taxes. There are those that are now trying to buy in areas where all of these taxes do not apply. They are expanding their search and buying properties in these areas, such as the Sunshine Coast.
They will also try to find properties that are exempt from the vacant home tax. Condos that do not allow rentals are exempt from these taxes as a vacation home These condos are more popular at present because they are exempt from tax.
However it is not all doom and gloom, and things should pick up somewhat as we head into our spring market.