Housing market regaining balance

Despite a slow economic recovery, the general consensus at the annual 1stEconomic Outlook and Forecasting event is that the new and resale market of homes is slowly making its way toward balanced conditions.

Despite a slow economic recovery, the general consensus at the annual 1stEconomic Outlook and Forecasting event is that the new and resale market of homes is slowly making its way toward balanced conditions.

In front of a near-capacity crowd, real estate agents, economics and market analysts gathered Thursday evening at the Filberg Centre to discuss the current and future outlook in real estate, construction and the trades across Vancouver Island and the Comox Valley.

“We always have to be cautious looking backwards as a way of going forwards,” said Marty Douglas, managing broker of Coast Realty Group (Comox Valley) Ltd.

Despite the economic downturn, Douglas said, “There are economies out there facing far greater challenges than ours.”

With a 61 per cent increase in building permits in 2010, Douglas noted there is a potential of excess inventory, adding “2011 will be a buyer’s market. Even with interest rates increasing, they are almost at 50-year lows. It’s an ideal time for qualified buyers — they will rule.”

Travis Archibald, senior market analyst for Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, said the cost of borrowing, the general economic conditions and population growth and migration are the three factors driving the real estate market.

Echoing Douglas’ comments, Archibald added, “The resale market is returning to balanced conditions, and we will see prices begin to stabilize.”

As the keynote speaker for the evening, Cameron Muir, chief economist for the British Columbia Real Estate Association agreed with Douglas and Archibald.

“We’re not going to see the economy be robust this year, maybe next year,” Muir stated. “The housing market will follow suit, with a bit of normalization.”

He noted labour shortages are on the rise as baby boomers retire, and offered a variety of solutions.

“Some solutions are boosting immigration, working longer past the age of 65, offering a competitive tax policy and having a huge investment in productivity in order to have economic growth,” he said.

For more information, or to view the presentations online, visit www.1stview.ca/announcements/event2011.

photos@comoxvallleyrecord.com