BC’s Early Spring Real Estate Market Accelerating at “Breakneck Pace”: BCREA

Joannah Connolly
March 14, 2016

Demand for residential real estate in BC has now hit “breakneck pace”, according to the BC Real Estate Association, which published a report on February’s market statistics March 14.

There were a total of 9,637 residential unit sales recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in BC, a rise of 44.7 per cent over February 2015. Like Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, this was the highest sales figure on record for a February, smashing the previous record set in February 1992.

BC’s total home sales dollar volume in February was $7.51 billion in February, up a staggering 76.4 per cent compared with the same month last year – a rate of growth that has been accelerating for many months. This snowballing growth rate reflects the combination of both increasing total transactions and the average MLS® home price in BC rising in February to $779,419, up 21.9 per cent from February 2015.

“Housing demand is now at a breakneck pace,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA’s chief economist. “Home sales last month were not only a record for the month of February, but on a seasonally adjusted basis, demand has never been stronger in the province.”

As usual, the overall figures for the province hide the enormous variations between home sales and price movement in different markets across BC. Major southern regions continued to see huge increases in sales and dollar volumes, with some of the smaller regions posting only small increases, although this is an improvement on the declines of the previous months.

Of the larger markets, the largest increase in sales was again recorded in the Fraser Valley, where home sales climbed more than 83 per cent from February 2015. Vancouver Island and Victoria once more saw even more rapid growth than Greater Vancouver’s 37 per cent increase, rising 45.4 and 41.5 per cent respectively.

The Fraser Valley continues to be the region suffering from the most acute shortage of inventory, again beating Greater Vancouver’s sales-to-active-listings ratio as the province’s highest, at nearly 60 per cent, meaning that is the region that is by far the strongest sellers’ market.

“Downward pressure on active listings has created significant upward pressure on home prices in some regions, particularly in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley,” added Muir. “While home builders have responded with a record pace of housing starts for BC last month, the supply isn’t expected alleviate the imbalance in these markets in the near term."

The Northern Lights region reversed its annual decline in unit sales, with transactions in February up nearly 12 per cent year over year. The South Okanagan was the only region to post no increase in sales, its figures flat over last year.

However, BC Northern, Kamloops and Powell River all recorded year-over-year price declines, the largest posted by the Powell River board at nearly 18 per cent. Greater Vancouver was the region to see the biggest average price increase, up 25.6 per cent.

To read the full BCREA report, click here.

Joannah Connolly
Joannah Connolly is editorial director of Glacier Real Estate, Glacier Media's real estate division. Joannah writes and curates real estate news for Glacier Media's local newspaper websites, including the Vancouver Courier, North Shore News, Burnaby Now, Tri-City News and others. She also oversees editorial content in Real Estate Weekly Homes, West Coast Condo, Western Investor and Glacier's special real estate publications. A dual Canadian-British citizen, Joannah has 22 years of journalism and editing experience in Vancouver and London, with a background in construction, architecture, healthcare and business media. Joannah has appeared on major local TV outlets as a real estate commentator, has moderated and spoken on various industry panels, and spent two years hosting the Real Estate Therapist radio show on Roundhouse Radio.