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What’s a buyer to do? Despite the threat of rising rates, tighter mortgage regulations and well-intentioned government intervention, the Greater Vancouver Area (GVA) real estate market continues to defy expectations.
Fraser Valley’s HPI Benchmark Price — which measures the rate at which housing prices change over time — rose more than 15%, year-over-year, for single-family home in March 2018. The HPI Benchmark Price for all properties in Greater Vancouver (which includes: Whistler, Sunshine Coast, Squamish, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Metro Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Pitt Meadow, Maple Ridge and South Delta) rose more than 16% in the same period.
Yet, during the same time frame, Fraser Valley was reporting an almost 25% year-over-year decrease in sales and the GVA was reporting an almost 30% drop.
Here is what Phil Moore, Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver president, says about market conditions: “High prices, new tax announcements, rising interest rates, and stricter mortgage requirements are among the factors affecting home buyer and seller activity today.” He added, “Even with lower demand, upward pressure on prices will continue as long as the supply of homes for sale remains low.”
The fact that March 2018 was the “quietest” March for new home listings since 2009 and that total inventory across the Greater Vancouver Area is still below historical norms, means that property prices are probably not going to drop anytime soon.
While housing activity appears to be slowing in 2018, real estate agents working in this western Canadian market aren’t worried. Just under 50% of ReMax agents surveyed by MoneySense believe prices will continue to rise this year, while another 40% felt prices would level off. What’s shocking is the percentage of agents who admitted to working with buyers who were searching for investments rather than a place to live. Just over 35% of realtors reported working with investors who were looking for good rental opportunities, while 12% were working with buyers who just wanted to “park their money.”
That’s a tough break for buyers in this market who must now content with lower inventory, higher demand, consistently high prices and, finally, tougher mortgage regulations.
Still, for those dreaming of owning their own single-family home, this 2018 market can seem daunting. You could downsize your property size and type or you could opt to buy a home based on solid fundamentals. In real estate, this means finding good-value neighbourhoods that offer a better-than-decent chance of continued momentum in the future. True, this is harder to find in hotter markets like Vancouver, but it’s not impossible. This year’s Where to Buy Now in Vancouver in 2018 list shows us that buying based on these strong fundamentals is possible, whether your search is in Vancouver’s core, inner suburbs or outer communities.
Top 25 neighbourhoodsSearch by neighbourhood or area to filter results.
|Rank||Neighbourhood||Area||Average home price (2017)||Value||Momentum||Realtor Grade||Average price vs. area||Avg. price vs. metro district||Avg. price vs. outer region||1-year price change||3-year price change||5-year price change|
|1||Uptown New Westminster||New Westminster||$996,903||87.79||82.63||★★★★||84%||59.28%||51.92%||9.99%||78.26%||92.95%|
|2||Birchland Manor||Port Coquitlam||$809,801||92.05||79.35||★★★½||85%||48.15%||42.17%||7.67%||67.25%||102.57%|
|4||Port Moody Centre||Port Moody||$1,407,705||63.28||90.92||★★★★||95%||83.70%||73.31%||19.48%||87.24%||99.13%|
|5||Mary Hill||Port Coquitlam||$976,415||78.49||82.92||★★★★||103%||58.06%||50.85%||18.26%||71.03%||90.72%|
|7||College Park PM||Port Moody||$1,396,019||64.83||89.74||★★★★||94%||83.01%||72.70%||22.30%||80.74%||97.23%|
|11||The Heights||New Westminster||$1,213,027||67.25||69.74||★★★★||103%||72.13%||63.17%||12.59%||62.79%||83.67%|
|14||Lincoln Park||Port Coquitlam||$856,582||88.76||46.56||★★★★||90%||50.93%||44.61%||4.70%||61.05%||66.95%|
|15||Lower Mary Hill||Port Coquitlam||$902,800||84.69||63.57||★★★½||95%||53.68%||47.01%||6.74%||67.72%||77.62%|
|16||West End||New Westminster||$1,334,339||59.40||76.27||★★★★||113%||79.34%||69.49%||14.53%||69.76%||86.04%|
|25||Woodland Acres||Port Coquitlam||$1,096,208||69.28||78.14||★★★½||115%||65.18%||57.09%||10.73%||70.87%||88.94%|
What makes the top 5 neighbourhoods so great?
1. Uptown NW
The No. 1 spot on this year’s Vancouver neighbourhood ranking is Uptown New Westminster. The average home price in this neighbourhood in 2017 was less than $1-million ($996,903). Part of the reason for the slower appreciation in this neighbourhood is that it’s a mixed-use community, meaning single-family homes share the street with older, low-rise apartment buildings as well as newer condo towers.
The overwhelming consensus by realtors who specialize in this community is that “Uptown New West is inner-city life without inner-city Vancouver prices.” The community overlooks the Fraser River Quay and offers a multitude of festivals, as well as a popular farmer’s market. In the summer and spring, many residents will head out to Westminster Pier Park, before sauntering down to Fraser River Discovery Centre. Commuters love the area because it’s between two Skytrain stations and still offers relatively easy access to the Highway 1A, the TransCanada highway and Lougheed Highway, the three major arteries that take commuters into downtown Vancouver.
2. Birchland Manor
To rise from the No. 89 spot in 2017, to the No. 2 spot in the Where to Buy Now in Vancouver for 2018 rankings, is an astounding achievement. But ask anyone in this Port Coquitlam neighbourhood if they are surprised and you’ll probably just get a smile and a small shake of the head. Over the last five years, massive price growth in Metro Vancouver meant that surrounding areas like Port Moody, Langley and Port Coquitlam also saw property prices rise. In 2017, getting into this neighbourhood meant paying almost 50% less than any other Port Coquitlam neighbourhood. The value was there, but no one appeared to see it.
Fast forward one year and it turns out buyers figured it out — and pounced. Average home prices are a bargain at just under $810,000 — 15% less than the surrounding area and more than 55% less than average home prices in Port Coquitlam. As a result, prices appreciated 8% in 2017. Over a five-year stretch property values have increased by more than 103%.
You’ll find older-stock family homes in Birchland Manor. Many are on larger lots with basement entrances, where you enter the home and shed your wet and muddy layers before moving upstairs to the main living space. While the majority of homes in this community are single-family homes, the area is rapidly developing prompting more townhouse and condo complexes.
“The community is a great spot for those that want a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city but still remain close to all the amenities and benefits of urban living,” explains the Re/Max Results Realty Prince Team, who specialize in Port Coquitlam properties.
3. Mission B.C.
If your house search includes exceptional value and you don’t mind driving an hour, each way, to commute to work then you really need to consider moving to Mission, B.C.
Homes in this community are 70% cheaper than Greater Vancouver average home prices. In 2017, you could buy a single-family home in Mission for less than $645,000 — and that’s after a one-year price increase of 19%. No wonder Mission cracked our Where to Buy Now 2018 rankings, for the first time, in the No. 3 spot.
Situated on the north bank of the Fraser River and overlooking the City of Abbotsford, Mission appeals to those that like access to all that interior B.C. has to offer — snow sports, hunting, fishing, ATV sports, and many other outdoor activities — but want the amenities of city living.
If you do decide to house shop in this community, be prepared to see a lot of houses. The options can range across the board from newer, larger, more expensive builds to older homes that offer anywhere from two to five bedrooms (you can even break the bank and go for acreages but you’ll need to fork out a few million for these properties).
4. Port Moody Centre
Once again, Port Moody Centre is on our Where to Buy Now list, sitting in the No. 4 spot in the overall list (and the No. 3 spot in the outer suburbs in last year’s ranking). No one is surprised.
While we’ve mentioned it before, it’s worth mentioning again: the opening of the Port Moody Centre Skytrain, two years ago in 2016, really did accelerate the revitalization of this community. Before the update, the area boasted little more than an old, derelict railway station and a few industrial-type businesses. Now, there’s a little bit for everyone. From single-family homes to new-build townhomes and condos to church-sponsored affordable housing, this neighbourhood is turning into one of the best examples of mixed-use communities in Greater Vancouver.
A few years back, Garrett Wong of Re/Max Metro predicted that in 10 years this area will look and feel “quite different” due to all the major redevelopment. He was right and residents didn’t have to wait 10 years. “It’s a small neighbourhood and this lends a sense of real community to the area,” explains Wong. “There’s a great Rocky Point Park with great access to the inlet and the neighbourhood is now known for its artsy feel and great micro-pubs.”
The best part? The homes are still $500,000 less, on average, than the average home price in Greater Vancouver (and slightly less than the average home price across Port Moody). Of course, the neighbourhood isn’t a secret anymore — particularly after we first identified as a great spot to buy back in 2015 (where it held the No. 1 spot in our ranking), which means prices appreciated in 2017 by 19%. But Wong and other realtors that work the area still consider this a great neighbourhood to buy into as there appears to be more room for future appreciation.
5. Mary Hill
Rounding out our 2018 overall Vancouver ranking in the No. 5 spot is another Port Coquitlam neighbourhood. In 2017, Mary Hill was way down the list, at No. 118, in part because there had not been a lot of momentum in property prices. Located on the far side of Coquitlam and south of the highway, Mary Hill is a community that’s tucked away. Residents like it that way. Most of the housing stock in this community are detached home two-storey homes on large, flat lots, although buyers can find townhomes on the north side.
While property prices increased 18% over 2017, a buyer can still find a single-family home for less than $1-million in this neighbourhood — no small task in the super-expensive Lower Mainland real estate market. Realtors who specialize in Port Coquitlam also think there’s more room for growth as developers start to update homes and redevelop land and more people look to find more affordable housing within the Lower Mainland.
We also ranked the best neighbourhoods in three regions — core, inner suburbs and outer. The core is the city’s urban centre, with accessible transit and easy access to amenities. The inner suburbs are for people who don’t mind trading a longer commute for better parking and a bigger lot size. And the outer region is for buyers who either don’t need to commute downtown at all, or are willing to log some serious travel time in exchange for affordable prices and wide open spaces. Check out the map below to see how the regions break down.
|Core||Inner Suburbs||Outer Suburbs|