Even though Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley over the past two months have posted lower home sales than in March, BC real estate boards as a total reported their highest-ever residential transactions in May, up 3.8 per cent over April and a rise of 32.3 per cent over May 2015, according to BC Real Estate Association figured released June 15.
The total 13,458 residential unit sales smashes the previous record of 12,969 units set last month for the highest number of residential sales in a single month, said the association.
Adding to strong annual growth seen in Greater Vancouver (up 18.5 per cent over May 2015) and the Fraser Valley (+48.1 per cent) were year-over-year surges in Chilliwack (+64.8 per cent), South Okanagan (+66.7 per cent), Vancouver Island (+49 per cent), Victoria (+41.5 per cent), Kamloops (+35.5 per cent) and Okanagan Mainline (+35.5 per cent). Some smaller boards with more volatile trend patterns, such as Powell River, also reported significant increases in sales transactions.
Inevitably, BC’s total home sales dollar volume in May was set yet another record, at $9.72 billion, up 51.1 per cent compared with the same month last year. This is a result of the combination of rising total transactions and the average MLS® BC home price in May increasing 14.2 per cent year-over-year to $722,146.
“Record housing demand and dwindling inventories are continuing to push home prices higher in most BC regions,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA chief economist. “Total active residential listings across the province are nearly 30 per cent lower than 12 months ago.”
Shortage of Inventory
Indeed, severe shortages in listing inventory were reported by almost all the boards, with only BC Northern posting a year-over-year increase in active listings.
Greater Vancouver retained its dubious distinction of being the region deepest in seller’s market territory, with a sales-to-active-listings ratio of 31 per cent – BC’s highest, having overtaken the Fraser Valley in March.
The Fraser Valley’s sales-to-active-listings ratio was the province’s next tightest, at 28.1 per cent – also a true sellers’ market but at least nowhere near February’s near-60 per cent ratio, as the spring market released new listings over the past three months.
The high-sales, high-demand, low-inventory activity of larger boards continued to contrast with some smaller regions in the north of the province, although the ripple effect is weakening these contrasts. The characteristically poorest-performing Northern Lights board posted a year-over-year decline in sales of 61.5 per cent, as well as the province’s only average price drop, down 10.2 per cent over last May.
Chilliwack overtook the Fraser Valley to post the province’s sharpest average annual price increase, up 29.1 per cent, followed by the Fraser Valley, at 26.1 per cent, then Greater Vancouver, at just 16.5 per cent.
The BCREA’s report was issued on the same day that the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) released its nationwide real estate statistics for May.
Across Canada, total home sales fell 2.8 per cent month-over-month, but the 61,097 transactions were still a 9.6 per cent increase compared with May last year.
The national average sale price rose 13.2 per cent year-over-year in May to $509,460, and the total sales dollar volume increased 24.1 per cent to $31.1 billion for the month.
Excluding Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto from calculations, the national average price is a more modest $375,532 and the year-over-year gain is reduced to 9.1 percent.
“National sales activity is still strong, even after coming off the record levels of the past couple of months,” said CREA president Cliff Iverson. “But there are housing markets where sales continue to reflect a cautious mood among homebuyers and uncertainty about the local economy.”
Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist, added, “Many of the housing markets in BC and Ontario that led the monthly decline in national sales are also places where months of inventory have fallen to all-time lows. This suggests a lack of supply may be starting to rein in sales amid a continuation of strong housing demand.”
To read the full BCREA report including statistics broken down by region, click here.
To read the CREA report, click here.