New Burnaby condo owners face hurdles in sellers' market

While homes are selling like hot cakes throughout the region, Burnaby is facing a bit of a lag when it comes to condos.

In particular, newer condos - those purchased by owners and quickly put up for sale - are facing challenges in a saturated market, according to Burnaby listing agent Edward Si.

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Si, who is with RE/MAX Central, has been keeping tabs on Burnaby's expired listings - those homes that are taken off the market before they sell - for March.

"Most of the homes are almost brand new," he said of the expired condo listings. "Those homes we find aren't very easy to get sold. Owners' expectations are too high."

Part of the issue is the amount of new residential highrises being built in the city, particularly in Metrotown, Si said.

If a new building has 150 to 200 units, about 20 of those units could go back on the market right away, he said, adding the units often have the same floor plan.

"It's very hard to get a quick sale," he said. "They've got to be very realistic about how much to sell their home (for)."

Si specializes in listing condos and said many of his clients sell their condos and move into single-family homes in Coquitlam or farther east.

Overall, Burnaby's real estate market was very good for sellers last month, he said.

In February, on average, one out of every three homes listed sold, according to Si.

In particular, homes under $1 million did quite well - out of 56 available, 34 sold, he said.

"That's over 50 per cent," Si said, adding the industry considers things shifting into a sellers' market when more than 20 to 25 per cent of the homes listed are sold.

"The housing market's really strong right now," he added.

He advises condo owners to spruce up the place before selling, as well as being realistic about the price.

Making sure the unit is clean, free of odors, and clear of clutter is important if you want someone else to consider living there, he explained.

"When a potential buyer comes along, they can't get past the stage of seeing too much stuff," Si said, adding the average two-bedroom condo in Burnaby is 800 to 1,000 square feet. "It's hard for them to visualize how they will live there."

Kelley Law, an agent with RE/MAX All Points Realty in Coquitlam, said both single-family homes and condos are selling well in the tri-city area, particularly in Port Moody centre.

"If it's good, it's gone," she said.

While housing stock is low, buyers are still looking, which is pushing up prices, she said.

Some sellers will hold off on showings and when the buyers do come, they all come at once, she added.

"It can be discouraging for the buyers," Law said. "There's a little bit of anxiety."

In comparison with Burnaby, Law said her colleagues who sell here say detached homes sell quickly, but condos can end up sitting.

According to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, last month's sales in the region saw a 21 per cent increase in comparison with February 2014.

The sales-to-active-listings ration was 25.7 per cent last month, the board reported in a press release, which is the highest it's been in the region since March 2011.

In Burnaby, the estimated price of a typical single-family detached home in the Burnaby South area was the highest in the city at $1.069 million. North Burnaby wasn't far behind at $1.034 million. This was an 8.4 per cent increase for Burnaby South and 11.7 increase for Burnaby North when compared with last year.

However, in Burnaby East the estimated price of a typical apartment was highest at $426,800, a 4.6 per cent increase from last year.

Both home listings and sales were above the region's 10-year average for the month, according to the board.

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