Vancouver Real Estate Developers Create New Home Inventory Drop Over 90%

Published September 3, 2019 by Real Estate Leads

If you’re a resident of Vancouver, you’d have to have been completely out of touch with the local media in order to not know that the housing crunch is a major issue in the city and has been for some time. No one is debating that Vancouver needs affordable housing, and part of achieving a greater supply of affordable housing is increasing the housing inventory overall.

Now the common logic belief would be that increasing the number of new housing starts in the city would be an integral part of these affordable housing efforts, but instead the reality seems to be that many of the NDP government’s efforts to ‘cool’ the housing market have done the same for developers and builders and and cooled off their enthusiasm for new projects at the same time.

Needless to say, big picture trends like this do a lot to influence the the industry environment for real estate agents in Vancouver, and it’s something that real estate and housing industry across all the country are likely keeping tabs on too. There’s the potential for downturns, and as a realtor that means you need to work harder to get your share of clientele. Here at Real Estate Leads, our online real estate lead generation system is an excellent way for realtors to get more out of their client prospecting efforts.

But back to topic here, it’s interesting news to read that Greater Vancouver real estate developers are launching less units – a lot less, to the tune of 90% less than were started for this time last year.

New Low for Pre-Sale Units and Launches

MLA Canada numbers for last month (July ’19) saw the fewest new pre-sale units launched in years. Developers have been choosing to delay new releases as a result of pre-sales not being absorbed as speedily or thoroughly as before. It’s true that these fewer launches did help to firm up the absorption ratio, but sales still came in very low.

Greater Vancouver pre-sale launches for that same time period were also extremely low. The number given for the number of new pre-sale units hitting the market in July was just 157, and that’s down 91.82% from last year. Industry experts didn’t expect a number so low, and it actually comes in in 43.07% lower than forecasted.

The MLA is also stating its belief that poor absorption is resulting in delayed or cancelled projects. Lower priced projects may also be stalled so that the developers can cash in on the Federal Liberal Government’s first-time buyer incentive (which many economists say will do nothing to make Vancouver or Toronto affordable for the people the program is supposedly going to benefit – but that’s a whole different topic)

Greater Vancouver New Pre-Sale Real Estate Listings

If we go back two years this month, to September of 2017, the number of newly available pre-sale units of new homes across Greater Vancouver was in the vicinity of 900 homes. Skip forward a year to September 2018 and it has actually dipped to 700 or so. However, the very next month – October of 2018 – saw this number jump exponentially to to some 2,4000 new home pre-sales being available.

The number came down again slightly, but stayed in excess of 1,000 for the next four months. It was only in February 2019 that things started to fall again, and it’s been a downward slide since then, confirming housing industry and economy experts to suggest that the foreign buyer’s tax and vacancy taxes, among other ‘cooling’ measures introduced by the government are actually serving to counteract the benefits they’ve created for homebuyers by making more difficult for many of them to find suitable homes for sale.

Developers Only Sold Slightly More than Half Of Pre-Sales

Also seen last month was a sharp drop off in volume for sales of newly launched pre-sales. Only a little more than half – 58 – of all the pre-sale units launched in July were sold. That’s a BIG decline of 95.34% from last year. In fact, it was the fewest pre-sale launch sales for any month over the course of the last two years at least.

Greater Vancouver Pre-Sale Absorption Highest In Months

Much fewer launches did promote a better sales-to-new-listings ratio (SNLR). The SNLR came in at 37% for July, down 43.07% from last year. However, that’s a high mark for the ration going back to December 2018. An SNLR above 60% is what’s known as a ‘seller’s market’, where prices usually go up. Between 40% and 60% means the market is balanced, and homes are generally priced ‘as they should be’. Below 40% and it becomes a buyer’s market, where prices typically go down.

  • Jan 2018 – 92
  • May 2018 – 70
  • Sept 2018 – 38
  • Jan 2019 – 18
  • Mar 2019 – 28
  • July 2019 – 27


Greater Vancouver’s absorption has picked up, but the ratio still isn’t at a balanced level as of yet. The industry is decreasing the number of new project starts due to weak absorption, and the number buyers for new launches appears to be dropping as well.

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