Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Red Pill or Blue Pill? Median Price data and spinning the numbers to boost buyer confidence.

In pop culture the blue pill and its opposite, the red pill, are symbols representing the choice between the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue) and embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red).

The terms derive from the 1999 film The Matrix. 

In the movie, the main character Neo is offered the choice between a red pill and a blue pill. The blue pill would allow him to remain in the fabricated reality of the Matrix. The red pill would lead to his escape from the Matrix and into the "real world".

Realtor Larry Yatkowsky plays off the pop culture pill reference in his latest post which gives us the median price data from May, a contrast from May's average price data a few days ago.

Removing the skewed data of high sales and low volume, the charts show most area prices dropping last month.

Of course data is meaningless without the right spin and the real estate spinmeisters are in overdrive this month as the battle for 'consumer confidence' is endlessly waged.

May is often considered the bellwether month for real estate sales. And while the number of home sales last month is still well below the 10 year average, the numbers are up from last month and there is an increase year-over-year in some categories.

Of course 2012 was a dreadful year so any increase, no matter how small, is cause for celebration right?

For example there were 1,212 detached property sales in Vancouver in May, up from April’s 1,064. 

But those sales are down 22.8% compared to May 2012.

Detached unit sales in May 2013 totalled 534, an increase of 3.3% compared to the 517 sales in May 2012.

That figure, however, is down 7.8% from the 579 attached properties sold in May 2011.

So it all comes down to how you want to look at it.

The real estate industry (naturally) see's great potential in this data. Toss in the fact that a condo listed for $28 million in downtown Vancouver - which has languished on the market for almost 2 years - has now sold for $3 million below it's asking price (yet still setting a record for the most expensive condo sold in Vancouver) and the fodder is there for the spinners to declare the correction over and real estate taking off towards a new housing boom!

It's all about confidence and massaging that theme is sure to take on prominence in the coming weeks.

Perhaps the coming glut of 'good news' will perk up these sellers? Observer's Vancouver Price Drop is back after a three week break. He has the monthly drop for May 2013 for us and and the top 20 properties this time around combine for a stunning $98 million in price cuts from their original asking prices. If there's a group that needs confidence and massaging it's this bunch.

Presumably they are still depressed from reports, like this one, which trumpet that Canadian homes remain the most overvalued in world wide rankings.


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  1. GLOBAL TV... as always well funded by your local RE Cartel. The news is always good, and the best time to buy is now - NOT !!!

    No worries more and more folks are starting to wake-up, too bad it's too late for since most prices are back to 2010 levels....and dropping.

  2. The Matrix, Whisperer?

    Way off this time (and we rarely disagree).

    The red pill/ blue pill theme is right out of Lewis Carrols 1865 novel "The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland".

    The idea was popularized in a song written by Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane in the 1960's called "White Rabbit". How far down the rabbit hole can we go after all?......just ask Alice.

    Here are the lyrics to the song (you probably already know it well as most do because it is one of the best known songs of all time).

    Red Pill, Blue Pill....go ask Alice.

    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland -Wiki's_Adventures_in_Wonderland


    1. W i have been watching the rental market & developer/speculater etc.owned condos r renting for the same rate as basements or apts. why would someone buy or rent anything else if condos r so cheap to rent. this means we will have alot of people looking for tenants therfore alot of people not having mortgage helpers to afford homes any longer

  3. Whisperer:

    I'm looking at the press release in another window and see a conflict between your report and the board's (unless I'm missing something). I think you're unintentionally misquoting them.

    You say:

    "For example there were 1,212 detached property sales in Vancouver in May, up from April’s 1,064.

    But those sales are down 22.8% compared to May 2012."

    They say:

    "Sales of detached properties reached 1,212 in May 2013, an increase of 2.7 per cent from the 1,180 detached sales recorded in May 2012, and a 22.8 per cent decrease from the 1,570 units sold in May 2011."

    We're up in May 2013 over May 2012, and 22.8% down over May 2011.

    The stats pack I have (,_may_2013.pdf) can be seen here to confirm. You can look at page 1, for the spun text, or page 6 for the actual numbers.

    Other notable quotes from the board that aren't spinning positive:

    "Last month’s sales were 19.4 per cent below the 10-year sales average for the month"

    "The sales-to-active-listings ratio currently sits at 17 per cent in Greater Vancouver". (Neither a fantastic or terrible number for sellers or price appreciation, that's 6 months of inventory if we stop listing anything and just sell what we've got).

    "The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the MLS® in Greater Vancouver is 17,222, a 3.4 per cent
    decrease compared to May 2012 and a 2.9 per cent increase compared to April 2013".

    That shows that inventory is still building, and that's not great for sellers or price appreciation.

    You can take an in depth look at the data and find that many areas have experienced price drops. The board provides that data in a very transparent manner if anyone really wants to take a look.

  4. Whisperer:

    I found the source (I believe) of (what I believe is) your error. I can give you the full package next time.

    1. The figures were drawn directly from Larry Yatkowsky's post. I note, however, he has now removed those figures so perhaps he had them in error?

  5. Boy, some of those realtors just can't turn off the hype can they?

  6. It’s official!! Cameron Muir says, “I’m calling this a transition year. I think we’re about to embark on another upswing.” Nanaimo sets sales records on “seasonally adjusted” prices.

    Tell me this isn’t so, and I’ve missed the boat???


    1. The industry shills will be pumping and humping all the way down. It will always be a turnaround year with expected sales and price upswing.

    2. In July, 2012, Mr. Muir said: "The pace of home sales slowed during the first half of the year. However, the downturn is likely to be temporary as population growth, persistently low mortgage rates and encouraging employment figures suggest a stronger second half of 2012."

      Home sales in B.C. for the first 6 months of 2012 was 38,341 units. For the second half of the year, 29,325 units were sold. First half transaction volume was $20.5 billion. Second half volume was $14.4 billion.

      Mr. Muir's record of prediction speaks for itself.

    3. No you haven't. What I personally saw was forclosures being processed and therefore counted as sales. I inquired into one particular house that had a a lower suite/walk out basement and I didn't bother as the company in charge of the forclosure obviously wanted to try and pocket the difference from what was owed to the bank. I'm sure the good deals are being distributed to freinds or family members and if you're not an insider, forget it.

      Unless... we will see a tidal wave of forclosures, but by then it'll be too late as no one will know the bottom of this market.