Numbers are down in the housing markets of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, both in terms of sales and prices of homes according to the latest sales statistics from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). But veteran Maple Ridge realtor Don Pearce isn't worried.
From January to December 2012, 1,049 detached homes, 367 attached homes (such as townhouses and rowhomes), and 305 apartments were sold in the region.
All those numbers are down slightly from 2011, when 1,148 detached homes, 485 attached homes, and 313 apartments changed hands.
Prices dipped a bit, as well, from the median selling price of $481,759 in 2011 compared to $479,000 in 2012 for detached homes and $304,000 compared to $293,000 for attached homes.
The median selling price of apartments in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows rose slightly in price from 2012 compared to the previous year, from $215,000 to $216,000.
And throughout Greater Vancouver in 2012, the market experienced below average home sale totals, typical home listing activity, and modest declines in prices.
The REBGV reports that total sales of detached, attached, and apartment properties this past year reached 25,032, a 22.7 per cent decline from the 32,387 sales recorded in 2011, and an 18.2 per cent decrease from 30,595 residential sales in 2010.
"For much of 2012 we saw a collective hesitation on the part of buyers and sellers in the Greater Vancouver housing market. This behaviour was reflected in lower than average home sale activity and modest fluctuations in home prices," said REBGV president Eugen Klein.
All this said, Pearce has ridden the West Coast's real estate roller coaster since he started as a realtor on Nov. 1, 1991, and remains optimistic.
REBGV president from 2001 to '02, Pearce has spent his entire 22-year career selling homes in Maple Ridge.
During the economic crisis starting in 2008, Pearce saw a "drastic decline," in the housing market, especially between June of 2008 and March of 2009.
From 1994 to 2000, the market was relatively unchanged, he said. Then came the boom years starting in 2001 and lasting for the about seven years, when properties doubled in value.
"My hands were cramped from writing up so many offers!" Pearce said, jokingly.
While Pearce doesn't see much of a radical change in the local market in 2013, he noted that negative media attention on the Metro Vancouver area has had a domino effect on the Fraser Valley market, putting "downward pressure" on housing prices.
"The prices have been pretty much unchanged in Maple Ridge with single-family homes, but we have seen a decrease in prices in multi-family units and especially with apartments," Pearce said.
Today's market is like a game of chicken. Sellers and buyers are waiting to see who will blink first.
"They [buyers] are willing to wait it out and get a better deal," Pearce said.
If people are looking to upgrade to a larger, more expensive home, now is the time to buy, with the decline in prices, Pearce said.
The good news is, there are still a lot of people who want to move to the Lower Mainland, Pearce said.
"People want to live here," he said. "That's not changing."
What makes Maple Ridge desirable is accessibility, Pearce said.
"I think we're going to see a migration to Maple Ridge from the other side of the river with the tolling on the Port Mann," he said.
Pearce believes the West Coast Express train, with stations in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, makes the area attractive to people who have to commute west.
"They can be downtown in 50 minutes, they don't have to pay for gas, and they don't have to park downtown," he said.
Looking at the Greater Vancouver region, residential D property sales totaled 1,142 in V December 2012, a decrease of 31.1 per cent from the 1,658 sales recorded in December 2011 and a 32.3 per cent decline compared to November 2012 when 1,686 home sales occurred.
But in keeping with Pearce's predictions for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, this community has been ranked as an incredibly desirable locale.
It was ranked back in late 2011 as second in B.C. and fifth in Canada on the list of best places to buy property, according to a report from the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN).
The REIN report listed the top cities and towns in Canada for real estate investment.