Surrey comes of age

Welcome to South Surrey.


The gentrification of this area has been ongoing for years, but only lately has the Lower Mainland started to take real notice of the demographic change. Previously made up of mostly underdeveloped lots of agricultural land, South Surrey has now become one of the hottest places for real estate development in the province. As Surrey transforms into a major metropolitan hub, it is cultivating its own upper-crust milieu. Matt Morrow, a real estate agent with Re/Max who lives in Ocean Park, said South Surrey is undergoing a swift metamorphosis.


“Detached prices are rising due to low interest rates and a lack of supply,” Morrow said. “You’re getting a lot of the older view homes being knocked down and newer homes are being built. And we’re starting to see that a lot. If you drive down any of the streets on the slope, houses are coming down and being rebuilt.”


Median prices for detached homes in South Surrey/White Rock jumped 11% to $860,000 and townhomes jumped 13.6% to $465,000 between June 2013 and June 2014, according to the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB). But sales are where the numbers are climbing the most. The number of detached home sales in South Surrey/White Rock rose 32% and townhouse sales jumped 121.9% since June of last year. This is due largely to townhome developments throughout Morgan Heights and South Surrey that were completed this year and in 2013.


Property values for detached homes jumped double digits since June 2013 in areas such as Grandview/Morgan Crossing (8.7%), Hazelmere (12.2%) and Pacific Douglas (10.2%). FVREB president Ray Werger said the increases are the result of Surrey’s rapid expansion, in which 1,200 people are added to the city’s population each month.


“It’s just indicative of what’s going on in the valley in general,” he said. “If you build it, people will come, and definitely it’s a desirable area. You’re close to the border and the ocean, an easy drive to the airport. And it’s got a really diverse mix of housing options.”


Morrow pointed to Morgan Crossing, just east of Highway 99 and north of 24th Avenue, which typifies the gentrification process going on. Commercial development has brought large chain stores like WalMart (Nasdaq:WMT) and Home Depot (Nasdaq:HD) and even some high-end boutiques to the area.


“You’ve now got all levels of shopping within the peninsula so there’s really no need to go anywhere unless you want to hit a major mall. So the need to leave is gone, or going quickly.”


However there’s one aspect of South Surrey that is failing to keep pace with the rapid growth – transportation. Werger said South Surrey is almost growing too fast for its own good.


“You need the [population] numbers for public transportation,” he added. “That’s the biggest thing. If you talk to TransLink, it’s kind of like a chicken-and-egg thing. You’d love to have it right away, but you need the numbers to support the cost of it because it’s so costly.”


Either way, Werger said when he’s driving his car through South Surrey, whether in bumper-to-bumper rush-hour traffic or not, one thing’s for certain.


“What I’m surprised with is just how rapid the growth seems to be. Even as a working realtor, just driving around – which I’m doing all the time – you drive into a neighbourhood down there and go, ‘Holy geez, when did that happen? That wasn’t there last year.’”

Mortgage rates are down and the local real estate market takes another hit. We are passing the mid-point of the year most homeowners at this point are very aware of the down turn we are experiencing in the local real estate market. Inventory has climbed and sales have fallen. Property values are headed down and as much as some would call it a balanced market, it’s more of a buyers’ market. Of course, there are few exceptions to this. Vancouver area homes sales posted their weakest June in almost twenty years. “We’re continuing to see an expectation gap between home buyers and sellers in Metro Vancouver,” said Ashley Smith, REBGV president. “Sellers are often trying to get yesterday’s values for their homes while buyers are taking a cautious, wait-and-see approach.” To take a closer look at the stats, click here Selling property in this market is challenging and requires a skillful realtor. Hard work often pays off, but in these conditions; it’s more about price and affordability. Buyers are taking advantage of these conditions and ‘low ball offers’ are becoming the norm. Sellers should prepare themselves and understand that it will likely take additional time to sell their home. When it comes to selling successfully there are few things that can help in delivering great results. Click here to ask me. Mortgage lending conditions are not much better. The good news is that interest rates have fallen since the beginning of the year and 5 year fixed is now as low as 2.74%. Most economists think fixed rates should hold steady and that we should see the prime lending rate move lower later this year. Borrowers looking to access these cheap rates should ensure they have all income taxes up to date and if you are self-employed ensure you have updated financial statements. This will help get you the answer you need quickly. Alternatively, if you need funds quickly and cannot meet the stringent lending criteria; then there are lots options but it comes at a higher cost. Mortgage rates: (certain conditions apply): Best 5 year fixed: 2.74% - insured Best 5 year fixed: 2.79% - uninsured Best Variable: Prime – 1% Best 10 year fixed: 3.44%