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Neighbourhood Markets

Total BC Home Sales in March Eclipse Previous All-Time Record: BCREA

By Joannah Connolly 2016-04-15

An unprecedented demand for West Coast property led to a record number of home sales across BC in March, according to BC Real Estate Association figured released April 15.

Across the province, 12,560 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®), a rise of 38 per cent over March 2015.

This follows – and is largely driven by – record-breaking figures released by the real estate boards in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. As in those regions, the overall BC figure was the highest sales figure ever recorded in any month, smashing the previous BC record of 11,683 unit sales posted in May 2007.

BC’s total home sales dollar volume in March was inevitably also a record, at $9.69 billion, up 66.9 per cent compared with the same month last year. Although this a high rate of increase, it is not quite the 76 per cent year-over-year surge seen in February.

The record dollar volume is indicative of both increasing total transactions and the average MLS® BC home price in March rising 20.2 per cent year-over-year, to $771,620.

“Housing demand has never been stronger in the province,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA’s chief economist. “Strong employment growth, rising wages and a marked increase in net interprovincial migration is fueling consumer confidence."

As is ever the case, the overall figures for the province obscure significant differences between various real estate markets across BC, although many previously poorly performing northern and interior markets turned around their declines last month.

Of the larger markets, the largest percentage rise in total unit sales was again recorded in the Fraser Valley, where home sales climbed 65 per cent compared with March 2015. As with last month, Victoria and Vancouver Island both posted even steeper rises than Greater Vancouver’s 28 per cent sales jump, increasing 51 per cent and nearly 30 per cent, respectively.

Greater Vancouver, however, re-emerged as the region suffering from the most acute shortage of inventory, having been beaten out in that ranking by the Fraser Valley in recent months. Greater Vancouver reported a sales-to-active-listings ratio of nearly 31 per cent, the province’s highest, meaning that is the region that is the strongest sellers’ market. The Fraser Valley’s ratio eased to 26.7 per cent – still very firmly in sellers’ market territory, but a great improvement over February’s near-60 per cent ratio, due to a host of new spring home listings in March.

At the other end of the scale, the Northern Lights region saw sales drop 40 per cent year over year, although this area’s sales volumes are so small (totalling 20 units in March) that its percentage figures are highly volatile. Another small region, Powell River was the other board to post an annual decline in sales, down 13.3 per cent.

Northern Lights was also one of two boards to see a year-over-year average price drop, of nearly 22 per cent – the other being the Kootenay region, where prices were down five per cent.

The Fraser Valley was the region to see the steepest average price increase, up 29 per cent, followed by Greater Vancouver, at nearly 23 per cent, then Chilliwack, at just over 20 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.