Real estate prices in Western Canada have seen a crazy and dramatic surge in the past year.
For instance, shortly after selling my house in Greater Vancouver in September 2015, in the space of three months, the value of my house sky rocketed by just over 40%. My house’s new owners, and of course my ex-neighbours, were naturally delighted (though I personally have trouble speaking to any of them now). Yes, I am slightly bitter. (Although I should mention here that my house doubled in value within the ten years I owned it, so I have no right to be resentful).
For first time buyers, new investors, or fresh-off-the-boat immigrants, this, or any, price surge, can be terrifying. Buyers become paralysed by fear of the unknown: What if we buy now at the peak, and then next month, prices plummet? What if the exchange rate falls dramatically? What if there’s a stock market crash? What if, what if, what if?
As a Realtor, just before the surge, I had several potential buyers who were sitting on the fence, convinced that prices were due to drop any day. Two of those buyers took notice of what they had seen or heard in the media (“the market cannot possibly sustain its current trajectory”); they did not buy, and now, naturally, are regretting their indecision. It turned out the market far surpassed its current (or past) trajectory.
It’s all so clear in hindsight. But what I have learned in real estate is that if it’s right for you right now, then it’s right. Don’t doubt yourself. None of us (even the “experts”) has any idea where the market is going. It is almost impossible to predict.
Of course, property is an investment and should be entered into with intelligence and pragmatism. But to listen to negative opinions and predictions is to invite doubt and inaction. Ultimately, and in the long run, buying real estate (in the right location) is rarely a bad decision.
I cannot wait to buy again. I accept that prices have gone up, and I know I will probably not be able to afford the same kind of house I owned before. I have been priced out of the market I was once in. But I know that if I continue to sit alongside my fence-sitting buyers, ultimately it will be someone else’s fence, not mine, which I am sitting on.
Article by Juliet Sullivan