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Home sales in BC return to 'historic averages' says real estate board

Last Updated Feb 15, 2017 at 2:52 pm PDT

A sold sign is pictured outside a home in Vancouver, B.C., Tuesday, June, 28, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The British Columbia Real Estate Association says the province’s housing market has tumbled from record highs posted in 2016 to return to what it calls historic, long-term averages.

The association says 4,487 condos, townhouses, and detached homes sold in BC in January, down 23 per cent compared with the same period last year.

The total sales value also dropped 36.5 per cent over the same period to $2.79 billion, while the average home price was off 17.5 per cent to $621,093.

Figures from the real estate association show the change was most pronounced in Vancouver, where fewer detached homes sold and sales of all property types made up just 35 per cent of sales across BC, an eight per cent decrease from January 2016.

These numbers don’t come as a surprise to Bryan Yu, an economist with Central 1 credit union.

“If you look at the provincial numbers, they were coming off a little bit in January,” says Yu. “Over the past couple of months it’s actually been pretty steady, so it’s a pretty moderate market right now, especially some weakness in the Lower Mainland area.”

As for where things are going, Yu says there are a number of factors to keep in mind.

“You have the tighter mortgage insurance rules that will still impact the market going forward, it should have a slowdown effect,” says Yu. “However, the BC home partnership plan which provides essentially low cost or free financing for first time home buyers provides an uplift.

“This downward pressure in terms of prices in the Lower Mainland is going to be pretty shallow. We only have about a five to seven percent drop off in the Home Price Index for the Lower Mainland, and we’re already about three or four percent of the way through.”

With fewer expensive, single-family homes changing hands compared with condos or townhouses, the association  says the average price of a property in the Vancouver area skewed downward.

It says the residential benchmark price in Greater Vancouver declined 3.7 per cent over the last six months, but record hikes last year mean prices are still 15.6 per cent higher than they were in January 2016.