Victoria Sees Pre-Stress-Test Home Sales Rush

BC’s capital reports busiest November market since 1996, as buyers try to beat mortgage deadline
Joannah Connolly
December 1, 2017

Sales of Victoria homes saw an unusual jump in November, with MLS® transactions up 12% year over year, according to Victoria Real Estate Board statistics released December 1.

There were 671 real estate sales in Greater Victoria in November, of which 628 were residential properties. That’s only five home sales fewer than in October this year, and 23 more than in September, which is usually much busier than November. It’s also the first year-over-year home sales increase posted in 2017, and the board said it was the most November sales on record since 1996.

 

 

VREB said that this was most likely due to a flurry of buyers trying to get into the market before the strict new mortgage stress test is extended to all new mortgage applicants from January 1, and warned that this rush might result in lower sales figures in the New Year.

VREB president Ara Balabanian said, “We suggested last month that some buyers may accelerate their purchase timeline to buy a new home in anticipation of the mortgage stress test on uninsured buyers – those with a down payment of 20 per cent or more – that will come into effect on January 1.

"Judging by the sales we saw in November and what I have heard from our REALTOR® members, some buyers have indeed accelerated their purchasing plans to avoid the stress test. This may change the numbers we see in the early months of 2018, as some buyers who had planned to buy next year have bought a bit earlier."

The board said there were 1,764 properties for sale, including commercial and industrial, on the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing Service® at the end of November 2017. That’s a decrease of 7.4% from October and 2.8% fewer than the 1,815 active listings for sale at the end of November 2016. 

Benchmark home prices for all three home types continued to rise year over year, but only single-family homes in the region saw a higher benchmark price than the previous month. 

Home Type Breakdown

Continuing their recovery in October, single-family home sales in November rose 3.4% year over year, to 337 transactions, which is just two units lower than the previous month. The benchmark price of a detached house in Greater Victoria rose both month over month and year over year, to $693,200. That’s $3,200 higher than in October and 11.7% higher than a year ago.

Townhomes, which represent a much smaller segment of the market and are therefore much more subject to large percentage changes, saw the weakest performance in November. Attached house transactions fell 7.1% year over year to 52 units, which is a drop of 25.7% from October’s 70 sales. Benchmark townhome prices as of the end of November fell by $8,000 compared with October, now at $561,200, but that’s 14.4% higher than one year previously.

Having seen a slight dip in October, condo sales were back on top in November, with their 220 transactions a rise of 29.4% year over year and 3.3% month over month. The price of a typical condo in Greater Victoria now stands at $437,600 – only $200 less than the previous month, and 18.3% higher than November 2016.

President Balabanian added, “The fact that we've had an unusual month does not necessarily mean that this is the start of a new trend. It is, however, a good example of how outside forces can impact a housing market. It's likely there will be more government-led change in the new year and we'll report on the effects of those changes on the market. Our hope is that the different levels of government coordinate their efforts to avoid a negative compounding effect on the market."

Home prices and sales vary greatly throughout the Greater Victoria region. To see the full breakdown by area, go to the VREB November 2017 statistics package.

 

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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.