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Wide Open Spaces

Market Updates | May 5, 2020

Who is wishing for wide open spaces? Dixie Chicks song, “Wide Open Spaces”, was the country song of the year in 1999. It is a catchy and easy tune to sing along to, even if you are not a country music lover like me. The lyrics speak of possibilities that are not yet discovered:

She needs wide open spaces,
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces —
She knows the high stakes

This song was not written by the Dixie Chicks, but by Susan Gibson in 1993. Gibson was a struggling artist and student at the University of Montana. If you ever had the opportunity to visit Montana, you will be able to relate to the wide open spaces Gibson writes about. In fact, Montana’s license plate slogan is “Big Sky Country.” 

Gibson wrote the tune in a spirit of rebellion during her first return home during her university Christmas break. In an interview with The Montanan, Gibson said, “My mom probably said something like, ‘What time did you get home last night, honey?’ Whatever it was rubbed me the wrong way.” Gibson then went on to say, “I sat down at the kitchen table and wrote furiously for twelve minutes, and then I went and did something else. I forgot all about it.”

Gibson quickly scribbled down the lyrics in a few minutes and then forgot all about them. Unlike Gibson’s story, COVID-19 will never be forgotten; it will be remembered forever and hold a significant place in history. COVID-19 has induced self-isolation, generated fear of small spaces, prohibited gatherings of people (including our loved ones), forced business to close, have many people lose their jobs, created new work environments (through working remotely), and paused and altered our world economy. 

Globalization was the norm, and the term, “It’s a small world,” was spoken and shared everywhere. Business, manufacturing, collaboration, travel, and destination living were things and concepts that were accessible to us; we would not even think twice about hopping on a plane and traveling abroad. However, the new COVID-19 world economy and human psyche has and will be forever changed, bringing a new form of globalization, or a new form of deglobalization. 

Deglobalization will essentially make our world smaller. For many, including myself, the economy is way bigger than we can figure out, comprehend, fix, change, or make a difference in; however, it is our personal psyche that I want to focus on. Cabin fever, or should I call it, COVID-fever, will change many social and economic facets, as well as behaviours of real estate. Development, density, building design, and of course, wide open spaces, will all be factors in the future of real estate.

The lyrics from “Wide Open Spaces” speak of the possibilities that are not yet discovered:

She needs wide open spaces,
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces —
She knows the high stakes

Today, I believe that many homeowners will be desiring the undiscovered possibilities of space—wide open spaces. Pre-COVID, many urban homeowners wanted easy and quick accessibility to amenities, their place of work, and the vibrancy of a busy metropolitan city; however, busy sidewalks, jammed restaurants, small elevators, cramped living spaces, lack of green space, and new work environments (through working remotely) will motivate people to look for more room and open spaces. 

Post-COVID, we will see social behavioural changes; change will happen out of fear, but also out of rebellion against COVID, the lockdown, and the restrictions that we have been living under. We will be much more guarded, but at the same time, open and curious about what making new memories, new mistakes, and new friends away from the high density of a city environment. If I am reading the psyche of the new world correctly, the suburbs can expect more homeowners coming in search of backyards, remote office space, and a slower and quieter pace of life.

The COVID-19 April market stats are not looking great, or are they? All STR (Sell Through Rate) numbers are down and in many cases significantly down, but there is a silver lining. The silver lining is the inventory levels. In most markets and property types, the inventory (listings) numbers compared to April 2019 is much lower. The real estate cycle revolves around supply and demand, and the supply is much lower than the previous April, making for a strong market for quality properties. 

However, most locations and property types have been pushed into a buyers’ market position. The few exceptions are townhomes and condos in Langley, Cloverdale, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack. As I mentioned earlier, the good news is that the new listing inventory is very low. When looking at the new inventory vs the new sales volume for the month, the ratio is 11% for both Vancouver and Fraser Valley markets, not great but not too bad considering the low sales volume. Vancouver had 2115 new listings and 233 sales, while the Fraser Valley had 1160 new listings and 127 sales.

My advice if you are thinking about selling, get your home on the market in the next week or two. I believe when we resume business as usual, we will see a burst of energy and sales volume will pick up throughout the marketplace. As a buyer or investor, today would be an excellent time to be sniffing around for a COVID deal. There are and will be sellers that need to unload their property for various reasons.  

Please reach out to our team for more information or help with all your real estate needs.

Click Below To See The Fraser Valley Stats:

Fraser Valley STR Stats

Click Below To See The Vancouver Stats:

Vancouver STR Stats

STR (Sell Through Rate) Formula = Sales ÷ Active Listings + Failed Listings + Sales


Randy Dyck
Personal Real Estate Corporation
604-807-4366 or randy@eximus.com