Since January, Landcor Data Corp. has been putting nearly 466,000 Lower Mainland addresses through its proprietary property-valuation software to help Vancouver Sun readers better understand local property values.
In March, Landcor found that detached-home values varied wildly. Vancouver values approximated September 2006 values, while Langley values approximated November 2008 values.
Attached homes, apartments and townhouses, mostly matched spring/summer 2007 values.
In the last 60 days, what's happened?
Detached-home values in May were definitely lower than in March, but are showing signs of recovery from a depressed April.
Maple Ridge values were hit the hardest, with May values approximating November 2006 values. Langley city values largely increased, to November 2008.
Most cities showed decreased values from March, but rising again in May with most losing two to five months of value in April and May, including Abbotsford, Coquitlam, North Vancouver district and Surrey. Vancouver actually showed a modest increase from March, gaining two months of value.
Apartment and townhouse values fell the furthest in Port Coquitlam, resembling values from October 2006. Pitt Meadows saw a solid increase in value, gaining a full year of comparable value to July 2008. North Vancouver district gained three months of value, to June 2007. The majority of cities saw either minor price decreases or held steady.
Analyzing interesting trends, markets like Port Moody and Vancouver have had huge price swings recently, with Port Moody's detached prices increasing almost $100,000 since January, and Vancouver gaining $30,000 over March 2009, although still down $105,000 from the high in July 2008.
''Based on recent data, I think we're beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel," says Rudy Nielsen, Landcor's president and founder.
"By the time we publish our August report, we'll know for certain whether it was just a grizzly bear with a flashlight!"
The starter-home buyer is also showing up in the valuations. "Detached properties are seeing a small surge of activity, compared to attached houses and condos,'' Nielsen notes.
''Low interest rates and lower house prices are creating a period of affordability not seen in the Lower Mainland in quite some time.
"Condo sales had increased in the past few years because detached homes were not affordable for most families. That trend has reversed somewhat, allowing detached houses to enjoy a small comeback."