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REAL ESTATE

The $2.398-million fixer-upper

Scroll to the bottom for photos from reporter Brent Jang's tour of the property.

With a $2.398-million asking price, the fixer-upper built in 1930 might seem overvalued.

But in Vancouver's crazed real estate market, that price would likely be a bargain. The new listing is priced more than $1.1-million under the recent average price for single-family detached houses sold on the city's west side.

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From the street, it looks like a bungalow, but there are two bedrooms upstairs. A mountain view to the north would be possible if a developer were to demolish the home and build a two-storey house. The listing created a sensation on social media last Friday, quickly turning into a stark symbol of just how expensive Vancouver housing has become – a teardown, with the main value in the land.

Last July, the land in the Point Grey neighbourhood was assessed at $2.1-million and the house itself at $45,500, according to BC Assessment. Since then, property prices have surged roughly 15 per cent in many neighbourhoods.

Elina Wang went through the open house Tuesday and deemed it a candidate for the bulldozer. Ms. Wang and her husband, Jun Qi Wang, moved to Vancouver from China in 2009. Their 23-year-old son attends the University of British Columbia, located only a five-minute drive away.

The Wangs bought a condo for $510,000, but are looking to upgrade. While some buyers from China are wealthy, many other new arrivals need to carefully search the market, she said.

"Maybe some people are rich, but most of us are not rich," said Ms. Wang, who is taking classes to improve her English-language skills. The couple said they prefer to find a house in move-in condition, so they won't be bidding this time. "We just want to buy a house to live, to get a better life, to enjoy the life," she said. "The price is very high."

Sutton Group agent Judith Adamick, who scouted out the property for a developer, said she anticipates a bidding war to push up the final sale above the asking price of $2.398-million. The number eight, deemed lucky in Chinese culture, is a common sight in Vancouver in real estate pricing for listings and sales.

"This particular house is a development property. Nobody is really going to renovate," Ms. Adamick said after she toured the property, which has tall trees in the backyard.

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The sellers are slated to begin accepting offers on Friday. "I would expect there will be at least 10 offers," Ms. Adamick said.

Watch: How much would you pay for this teardown in a popular Vancouver neighbourhood?

0:52

In November, the average price for single-family detached houses sold within the City of Vancouver topped $2.5-million. The average sales price for detached houses in November surpassed $3.5-million on the city's west side, where the modest home is located.

The region is also expensive. The average price for detached houses in Greater Vancouver, which includes suburbs such as Richmond and Burnaby, climbed to $1.83-million last month, up 40.2 per cent from January, 2015. Last month's median sold price for detached houses reached $3.5-million on the west side and $1.46-million on the east side, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said Tuesday.

"The house can be even a treehouse, and it will still get the high prices," said Ken Wong, an agent with Royal Pacific Realty Group.

Near the Point Grey fixer-upper, a 101-year-old house with a view of the mountains that was listed on Jan. 4 for $2.448-million was sold one day later for $2.83-million.

Andy Yan, an urban planner with Bing Thom Architects and acting director of Simon Fraser University's city program, released a study last week that shows 91 per cent of detached homes within the City of Vancouver were assessed at $1-million or higher on July 1, 2015, up 65 per cent from a year earlier. He found that 32 per cent of detached properties in the city were assessed at $2-million or higher on July 1, 2015, up from 23 per cent a year earlier.

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There were 2,519 sales of detached houses, townhouses and condos last month, up 31.7 per cent from January, 2015. While sales surge, listings have fallen. There were 6,635 properties of all types listed last month, down 38.6 per cent year over year.

While an influx of buyers from China into Vancouver's west side has garnered headlines, other factors have also fuelled prices, such as low interest rates and limited listings in a region already boxed in by mountains, the ocean and the Canada-U.S. border, Mr. Yan said.

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