Despite a drop in home sales in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley in August, residential real estate transactions across the whole of BC rose 1.5 per cent year over year to 8,945 units, according to British Columbia Real Estate Association figures released September 13.
"Strong housing demand across most regions of the province offset slowing home sales in Vancouver last month,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA chief economist.
Jumps in home sales on Vancouver Island and in the Okanagan more than made up for the declines seen in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, which last week reported annual drops in home sales of 26 and 2.5 per cent respectively.
Leaving aside the smaller boards, where the sales numbers are low and the percentage changes are highly volatile, this month it was the Vancouver Island board that reported the largest year-over-year increase in home sales, up 42.2 per cent over last August to 1,088 transactions. This was followed by Okanagan-Mainline, up 29.6 per cent, and Victoria, up 20.4 per cent over last year to 838 units.
Despite the high demand, the average sale price of a home in BC fell 8.1 per cent year over year to $569,393 resulting in the total dollar volume of home sales in August dropping 6.7 per cent on an annual basis to $5.1 billion. The average sales price was also the second consecutive monthly decline, down 14.2 per cent from July 2016’s $663,411.
The drop in average house prices, however, doesn’t make housing more affordable at the low to mid end of the market – where demand is still high, and growing – but instead simply reflects fewer home sales at the top end of the market, as the BCREA stated.
"The newly introduced 15 per cent foreign buyer tax combined with the 3 per cent property transfer tax on homes over $2 million brought in earlier this year, slowed demand at the top end of the market in Vancouver last month,” said Muir.
"The decline in the average home price was due to a change in the composition and location of homes sold in the province. Fewer sales of high priced detached homes relative to all other homes sales in Vancouver as well as fewer Vancouver home sales relative to the rest of the province have caused the average price statistic to decline."
The total number of available homes for sale throughout BC in August was down 23.5 per cent compared with the same month last year, at 31,750 active listings.
Year-to-date, total BC residential sales dollar volume increased 39.1 per cent to $61.6 billion, compared with January-August 2015. Total residential unit sales in 2016 so far have increased by 22.1 per cent over 2015’s sales, to 86,206 units.
To read the full BCREA report, click here.