Greater Victoria’s real estate market took a beating in January as sales tumbled 27 per cent compared to a year ago.
Many homebuyers are being driven to condominiums and townhomes — whose sales accounted for 120 of the total 294 residential sales last month — because of the high cost of single-family dwellings and changes to strata regulations. That has prompted Victoria real estate firm Pemberton Holmes to launch a service to make sense of it all for would-be homebuyers.
The firm has launched Stratasafe.ca in an effort to tear away some of the misconceptions about strata buying and inform buyers about what they are getting into when they look at properties.
“It’s basically a concept in marketing and management where prospective buyers will get more in-depth information before purchasing and a clearer explanation of new regulations relating to depreciation reports, financial statements and deficiency reports,” said Steve Kopnyitzki, co-managing broker at Pemberton’s Cloverdale office. “This will help people make better-informed decisions before they purchase.”
Kopnyitzki said too often buyers aren’t aware of what they’re getting when they buy in.
“Often they may not understand the strata concept — basically they don’t understand they are all in it together,” he said, noting buyers often believe the boundaries of their strata lot are all they are responsible for. “They are often shocked when they are assessed a special levy to take care of another part of the building or even a new phase of the development.”
The team, which includes real estate agents Debbie Henselin and Tricia Basi as well as Kopnyitzki, will take buyers through all the strata documents including financial statements, depreciation reports and the like and point out potential problems.
“We simplify the concepts and explain it all in detail so clients make a better decision,” said Kopnyitzki, noting it has been common practice in the marketplace for agents to simply hand over strata materials for the buyer to go through. “We help buyers wade through the jungle of information.”
He said the market is ripe for this kind of service, which does not cost extra, given the new regulations around depreciation reports as well as the trend toward condo and townhome buying as a result of high home prices.
“People have been priced out of the single-family home market.”
There were 81 condominium sales in January, a 24.6 per cent increase over December 2012, though it’s still down from the 112 sales in January last year. The median price of a condo was $238,350, down 12.1 per cent year-over-year.
There were 153 single-family homes sold last month, down from 156 in December 2012 and well off the 191 recorded in January last year. The median price of a single-family home also dropped to $482,500 last month compared to $522,000 in December.
“We are realistic and sales are not what we would like to see,” said Greater Victoria Real Estate Board president president Shelley Mann. “My basic message is sales are down, prices are flat and our provincial economist is predicting 2013 will be a transition year. He believes the economic fundamentals are strong and, as a result, the sales volume will increase four per cent this year over 2012, but prices will remain flat.”
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