Mortgage Stress Test Taking a Toll on Housing Sales – Benchmark Prices Rise

Mortgage Stress Test Taking a Toll on Housing Sales – Benchmark Prices Rise

Vancouver Island, BC – The mortgage stress test, also known as Guideline B-20, is taking a toll on housing sales throughout the province, and Vancouver Island is no exception. Sales of single-family homes in January dropped by 28 per cent from one year ago, albeit they did rise by 23 per cent from December 2018.

Last month, 209 single-family homes sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System compared to 170 in December and 290 one year ago. Apartment sales were 20 per cent lower than in January 2018, while 34 townhouses sold last month compared to 33 the previous year.

Inventory of single-family homes in January rose by 32 per cent from one year ago (987 compared to 748) and was nearly five per cent higher than in December. Active listings of apartments climbed by 38 per cent (219 to 303) year over year and townhouses by 60 per cent (103 to 165).

The 2018 housing market behaved as expected, moderating after the record-setting pace set in 2016 and 2017. Guideline B20 eroded the purchasing power of some prospective home buyers by as much as 20 per cent.

Despite lower demand, however, year-over-year benchmark prices of single-family homes continue to rise board-wide, up around nine per cent from January 2018. Price increases in individual markets ranged from five per cent in Nanaimo to 17 per cent in Port Alberni. Modest month-over-month price reductions occurred in Campbell River, the Comox Valley, and Parksville-Qualicum while prices in Duncan, Nanaimo, and Port Alberni increased slightly from December 2018. The yearover-year benchmark prices of apartments and townhouses board-wide increased by 11 and 10 per cent, respectively.

VIREB’s housing market has transitioned from one favouring sellers to one that is balanced or near balanced. On the street, REALTORS® are reporting fewer multiple offers, with many buyers taking more of a wait-and-see approach. Some are waiting until spring in the hope that inventory goes up and prices come down. Balanced markets offer buyers more choice and more room to negotiate, while sellers may need to curb their expectations.

“Right now, many sellers still want to list their homes at 2016 and 2017 sale prices, and that just isn’t realistic,” says 2019 president Kaye Broens. “When fewer buyers are competing for a property, sellers need to be far more strategic, which is why the advice of a local REALTOR® is so crucial. We’ll conduct a comparative marketing analysis using recent sales data to determine an optimal selling price for your home.”

The benchmark price of a single-family home board-wide was $504,500 in January, a nine per cent increase from one year ago but a slight drop from December. (Benchmark pricing tracks the value of a typical home in the reported area.) In the apartment category, the benchmark price climbed to $318,800, up 11 per cent from last year and slightly less than in December. The benchmark price of a townhouse hit $407,600 last month, up 10 per cent over January 2018 but down slightly from December.

Last month, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area hit $412,300, an increase of 12 per cent over January 2018. In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price reached $498,000, up nine per cent from last January. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $469,400, up 10 per cent from January 2018. Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose five per cent to $541,700 while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price increase by 12 per cent to $579,800. The cost of a benchmark single-family home in Port Alberni reached $302,700 in January, up 17 per cent from one year ago. – 30 -

Housing Market in 2018 Performed as Expected

Housing Market in 2018 Performed as Expected

NANAIMO, BC – Sales of single-family homes in December dropped by 48 per cent from one year ago and were 44 per cent lower than in November.

Last month, 170 single-family homes sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System compared to 304 in November and 328 one year ago. Apartment sales in December were 65 per cent lower than in December 2017, while the number of townhouses sold in December dropped by two per cent from one year ago. Annual sales of single-family homes in 2018 totalled 4,543, a 19 per cent drop from 2017. However, this reduction reflects the market returning to more normal levels after the robust housing markets witnessed in 2016 and 2017.

Inventory of single-family homes last month rose by 23 per cent from one year ago (941 to 761) but dipped by 12 per cent from November 2018. Active listings of apartments rose by 20 per cent (225 to 270) year over year and townhouses by 59 per cent (93 to 148).

The 2018 housing market behaved as expected, moderating after the record-setting pace set in 2016 and 2017. Government policy-side measures introduced to cool the market, such as the mortgage stress test (Guideline B-20), eroded the purchasing power of some prospective home buyers by as much as 20 per cent.

Despite lower demand, however, year-over-year benchmark prices of single-family homes continue to rise board-wide, up 10 per cent from December 2017. Price increases in individual markets ranged from seven per cent in Nanaimo to 20 per cent in Port Alberni. Small month-over-month price reductions from November to December were posted in Duncan, Nanaimo, and Port Alberni. The year-over-year benchmark prices of apartments and townhouses board-wide increased by 12 and 13 per cent, respectively.

Decreased demand and additional inventory are helping VIREB’s long-running sellers’ market transition to one that is balanced or near-balanced. However, “micro markets” are omnipresent in many communities, favouring sellers for moderately priced properties and benefitting buyers for higher-end homes. Overall, however, REALTORS® are reporting that they are negotiating fewer multiple offers, with many buyers taking more of a wait-and-see approach.

“Realistically pricing your home is important in any market, but when fewer buyers are competing for a property, sellers need to be far more strategic,” says Don McClintock, 2018 VIREB President.

McClintock also notes that property assessments, which were recently issued, complicate the pricing process for sellers who may not realize that the assessed figure is based on the previous year and does not reflect a home’s current value. The expertise of a REALTOR®, who will conduct a comparative market analysis using recent sales data, is hugely beneficial when determining an optimal sales price.

The benchmark price of a single-family home board-wide was $506,300 in December, a 10 per cent increase from one year ago. (Benchmark pricing tracks the value of a typical home in the reported area.) In the apartment category, the benchmark price climbed to $319,000, up 13 per cent from last year. The benchmark price of a townhouse hit $411,500 last month, up 12 per cent over December 2017 but down slightly from November.

Last month, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area hit $414,600, an increase of 13 per cent over December 2017. In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price reached $508,100, up 10 per cent from last December. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $466,600, up 10 per cent from December 2017 but down two per cent month over month. Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose seven per cent to $538,300 but dropped by two per cent from November. The Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price increase by 11 per cent to $580,500 while the cost of a benchmark single-family home in Port Alberni reached $299,000 in December, up 20 per cent from one year ago but down four per cent from November.

VIREB Sales Bounce Back Slightly From July But Still Lower Than in 2017

SEPTEMBER, 2018 NANAIMO, BC – Sales of single-family homes in August were seven per cent higher than in July but dipped by 14 per cent from August 2017.

Last month, 467 single-family homes sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System compared to 438 in July and 540 one year ago. The number of apartments changing hands last month dropped by 13 per cent while townhouse sales increased by 16 per cent.

Inventory of single-family homes in August was down slightly from one year ago (1,342 compared to 1,352), dropping five per cent from July but still significantly higher than the 749 properties available in January. The supply of apartments and townhouses dipped 14 per cent and 10 per cent from one year ago, respectively.

The weaker sales seen so far in 2018 were expected because 2016 and 2017 were exceptionally healthy years for real estate, setting record levels that could not be maintained indefinitely. However, VIREB’s housing market is still strong compared to where it sat four years ago.

“The broad demographic trend for the VIREB area continues to include baby boomers and retirees, who are less affected by stricter mortgage qualification rules because they don’t typically need mortgages,” says Cameron Muir, chief economist for the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA). “As a result, even when sales bottom out, they’re doing so at lower levels on Vancouver Island.”

In its 2018 Second-Quarter Housing Forecast, BCREA anticipates that MLS® residential sales in the province will decline by nine per cent to 94,200 units this year from 103,700 in 2017.

“B.C. housing markets have benefited from the provincial economy expanding well above trend growth over the past four years,” says BCREA chief economist Cameron Muir. “However, economic growth is expected to slow and reflect the long term average this year.”

VIREB’s long-term sellers’ market does appear to be moving towards more balanced conditions. The benchmark price of a single-family home for the overall board area posted its first significant drop this year, with modest price reductions also occurring in Campbell River, Duncan, and Parksville-Qualicum Beach. Multiple offers are not as frequent, but for homes in the $300,000 to $500,000 range, they are still more common than not. That said, sellers still need to price their homes accordingly. Today’s buyers are savvy and well-informed when they arrive at the negotiating table.

“Sellers need to be realistic when it comes to price,” says Don McClintock, 2018 VIREB President. “Not every property is worth a million dollars, and overpriced homes just take longer to sell.”

The benchmark price of a single-family home board-wide was $505,800 in August, a 12 per cent increase from one year ago but down from June’s $510,300 and July’s $510,700. (Benchmark pricing tracks the value of a typical home in the reported area.) The benchmark price of an apartment last month was $317,700, up 20 per cent from one year ago. In the townhouse category, the benchmark price hit $413,600, up 15 per cent over August 2017.

Last month, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area was $404,300, an increase of 12 per cent over August 2017. In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price reached $509,200, up 13 per cent from last year. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $455,100, up eight per cent from August 2017. Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose 10 per cent to $546,200 while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price increase by 13 per cent to $574,200. The cost of a benchmark home in Port Alberni reached $303,600, up 22 per cent from one year ago.

VIREB – Home Sales Cooling But Prices Still Rising

 

WELCOME SUMMER!

 

NANAIMO, BC – Last month, 444 single-family homes sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System compared to 518 in May and 617 one year ago. The number of apartments changing hands last month dropped by 21 per cent, but in the townhouse category, sales increased by 26 per cent.

Housing demand in the VIREB area has shifted lower in the first half of 2018 as stricter mortgage qualifications for conventional borrowers and rising interest rates took their toll on household purchasing power and affordability. It is unclear whether the June slowdown is reflective of seasonal summer market conditions or if demand-side policy changes are finally beginning to play a larger role in VIREB’s housing market.

Despite lower sales thus far in 2018, lack of inventory continues to tilt the market in favour of sellers and push prices upwards. The number of single-family homes for sale has been slowly increasing, hitting 1,336 in June, up only three per cent from May but a significant increase from the 893 properties available in January. The supply of townhouses rose by 33 per cent from one year ago, but many of the listings behind these modest inventory gains in both property types are being quickly snapped up by buyers.
In its 2018 Second-Quarter Housing Forecast, the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) anticipates that MLS® residential sales in the province will decline by nine per cent to 94,200 units this year from 103,700 in 2017.
“B.C. housing markets have benefited from the provincial economy expanding well above trend growth over the past four years,” says BCREA chief economist Cameron Muir. “However, economic growth is expected to slow and reflect the long-term average this year.”
On a local level, BCREA predicts that over the next eight months, VIREB’s long-term sellers’ market will begin shifting towards more balanced conditions. Further, the pace of price increases will slow if demand keeps declining, but it is unlikely that prices will drop until additional inventory enters the market by way of new construction or buyer appetite decreases drastically.
In the meantime, competition for homes – especially in the $300,000 to $500,000 range – is still modus operandi in the VIREB area, with multiple offers a commonplace occurrence on properties in that price range. Despite buyer demand, however, homes at most price points still need to be reasonably priced.
“For sellers, properly pricing your home remains an important factor,” says Don McClintock, 2018 VIREB President. “Buyers are savvy, and overpriced homes take longer to sell.
Connecting with a local REALTOR® is especially crucial in a competitive housing market.
“REALTORS® have specialized knowledge of their communities and can help streamline the buying and selling process to ensure the best possible outcome for our clients,” says McClintock.
The benchmark price of a single-family home in the VIREB area reached $510,300 in June, a 15 per cent increase from one year ago. (Benchmark pricing tracks the value of a typical home in the reported area.) The benchmark price of an apartment last month was $313,300, a slight decrease from May but a 24 per cent increase over last June. In the townhouse category, the benchmark price hit $405,000, up 18 per cent over June 2017.

Last month, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area climbed to $425,800, an increase of 22 per cent over June 2017. In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price reached $510,700, up 17 per cent from last year. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $450,500, up 12 per cent from June 2017. Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose 11 per cent to $534,300, down slightly from May, while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price increase by 16 per cent to $575,800. The cost of a benchmark home in Port Alberni reached $293,800, up 22 per cent from one year ago.

VIREB – Single-Family Benchmark Price Surpasses $500,000 in May

 

NANAIMO, BC – The benchmark price of a single-family home in the VIREB area broke the $500,000 mark in May, rising to $507,700, a 17 per cent increase from one year ago. Sales of single-family homes were down 17 per cent from last year but posted a month-over-month increase of nine per cent.

Last month, 520 single-family homes sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System compared to 476 in April and 630 one year ago. The number of apartments and townhouses changing hands in May dropped by six per cent and 11 per cent, respectively.

VIREB’s inventory of single-family homes continues to climb, rising from 749 in January 2018 to 1,215 in May. The supply of apartments dropped slightly last month, down six per cent from one year ago, but townhouse inventory rose significantly.

In its 2018 Second-Quarter Housing Forecast, the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) anticipates that MLS® residential sales in the province will decline by nine per cent to 94,200 units this year from 103,700 in 2017.

“B.C. housing markets have benefited from the provincial economy expanding well above trend growth over the past four years,” says BCREA chief economist Cameron Muir. “However, economic growth is expected to slow and reflect the longterm average this year.”

Housing demand in the VIREB area shifted lower in the first four months of 2018 as stricter mortgage qualifications for conventional borrowers took their toll on household purchasing power and affordability. Other economic headwinds that could dampen demand include higher interest rates and new provincial taxes. However, the attractiveness of Vancouver Island to retirees and millennials is expected to mitigate their impact somewhat.

Despite lower sales thus far in 2018, lack of inventory continues to tilt the market in favour of sellers and push prices upwards. The pace of these increases could slow somewhat if demand keeps declining, but it is unlikely that prices will drop until additional inventory enters the market by way of new construction.

“Housing starts are up on Vancouver Island, particularly in Nanaimo, so there is some relief on the horizon,” says Janice Stromar, 2018 Past President. “However, in the multi-family category, the time between conception and completion can take several years, which doesn’t help people looking to buy now.”

Since limited inventory is keeping the VIREB area in a sellers’ market, competition for homes – especially in the $300,000 to $500,000 range – means buyers and sellers should strongly consider using a REALTOR®, says Stromar.

“As experienced professionals, we can help streamline the buying and selling process to ensure the best possible outcome while reducing associated risks,” says Stromar.

As noted above, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the VIREB area reached $507,700 in May, a 17 per cent increase from one year ago. (Benchmark pricing tracks the value of a typical home in the reported area.) The benchmark price of an apartment last month rose to $314,000, up 25 per cent board-wide from the previous year, while the benchmark price of a townhouse hit $397,100, an 18 per cent increase from May 2017. Last month, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area climbed to $417,500, an increase of 20 per cent over May 2017.

In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price reached $500,500, up 17 per cent from last year. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $450,700, an increase of 15 per cent compared to May 2017. Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose 14 per cent to $538,500 while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price increase by 17 per cent to $575,000. The cost of a benchmark home in Port Alberni reached $294,900, up 27 per cent from one year ago.

Such Kind Words

March 18, 2017

Hello Ron and Peggy,

Now that we have happily moved into our new home we’d be remiss in not thanking you for the way you helped us make our dream come true.  We were impressed by your professionalism in all your dealings with us, starting from the thorough introduction to selling a house, the research of current market values, and the expertly done picture gallery and brochure which attracted many potential buyers.  But above all, we appreciated Ron’s quiet and reassuring demeanor in the somewhat stressful situation of selling our beloved property.  And we were equally appreciative of Peggy’s never failing accessibility for any queries we had and her prompt follow-up.  It doesn’t take you long to realize that Ron and Peggy work hand-in-glove and make a very successful team in helping their clients achieve their goals.

Lastly, we are still in awe, and thankful, at how quickly you were able to secure our new home in a highly competitive situation.  Ron and Peggy, you stopped at nothing and dedicated extra hours to see us through the process.  And if that were not enough, you helped us get started on the move.  All in all, we couldn’t be happier with the service you have given us and we would certainly recommend you to any potential clients. 

Yours gratefully, Richard and Marlies Newton

RE/MAX #1 6 Years Running

 

RE/MAX continues to shine in the annual Entrepreneur Franchise 500 ranking of top franchises.

In addition to being the No. 1 ranked real estate franchise for the 15th time, RE/MAX climbed into the survey’s Top 5 for the very first time. It joined McDonald’s, 7-11, Dunkin’ Donuts and The UPS store in the elite five of household brand names.

More than 115,000 agents enjoy the competitive advantages of being with the industry’s top franchise brand. And who benefits from the skills of those agents? Homebuyers and sellers in countries around the globe.

Nobody in the world sells more real estate than RE/MAX, as measured by residential transactions. There’s a reason for that. And it starts with productive, hustling, all-in agents who strive to be the best at what they do.

VIREB Posts the Strongest December on Record

January Raindrops

NANAIMO, BC – The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) reports that on a seasonally adjusted basis, the board had its busiest December on record, with 667 housing units changing hands last month.

Sales of single-family homes increased by 35 per cent from December 2016. Annually, 5,612 single-family homes sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System in 2017 compared to 6,059 the previous year, a decrease of seven per cent. However, this reduction reflects the market returning to more normal levels from the unprecedented sales activity generated in 2016.

Inventory of single-family homes dropped to 762 in December, the lowest recorded since VIREB began tracking inventory in 1999. The supply of apartments and townhouses dipped by 13 per cent and 33 per cent, respectively. Diminishing housing supply and high consumer demand are driving rising benchmark prices of single-family homes, apartments, and townhouses in all markets.

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) notes that the housing market in B.C. is thriving due to strong economic fundamentals, such as robust retail sales, job growth, and population growth. BCREA’s Fourth Quarter Housing Forecast states that the provincial economy is on track to expand by 3.8 per cent in 2017, the fourth consecutive year of three per cent or more real GDP growth. The cumulative effect has fuelled employment growth to its strongest performance in almost 20 years, with the provincial jobless rate at its lowest level in nearly a decade.

However, while provincial economic conditions appear to be on a sound footing, BCREA expects economic growth to slow in 2018, expanding at a respectable 2.8 per cent, but lower than we have seen in some time. The province’s housing market will face additional economic headwinds in 2018, with rising interest rates eroding affordability and Guideline B-20 making it harder for some buyers to qualify for a mortgage.

Janice Stromar, 2017 VIREB President, notes that VIREB’S record December shows that consumers are still highly motivated to buy a home, but she encourages sellers to list their property now before mitigating economic factors have an impact on housing activity.“My advice to prospective sellers is not to delay listing their home until the spring,” says Stromar. “The VIREB area has been a sellers’ market for a long time, but we know that it cannot continue indefinitely.”

That said, since the current VIREB market still favours sellers, connecting with a local REALTOR® is especially crucial in a competitive housing market.

“REALTORS have specialized knowledge of their communities that can help streamline the buying and selling process to ensure the best possible outcome for our clients,” says Stromar.

In December 2017, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the VIREB area reached $466,400, up 17 per cent from one year ago. (Benchmark pricing tracks the value of a typical home in the reported area.) The benchmark price of an apartment last month rose to $284,400, up 28 per cent board-wide from the previous year, while the benchmark price of a townhouse hit $370,700, a 23 per cent increase from December 2016.

The December 2017 benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area was $375,100, an increase of 20 per cent over December 2016. In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price hit $467,400, up 19 per cent from last year. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $418,000, an increase of 16 per cent compared to December 2016. Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose 17 per cent to $500,500 while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price increase by 16 per cent to $524,900. The cost of a benchmark home in Port Alberni was $249,800, up 16 per cent from one year ago. 

Lack of Inventory Continues to Drive Housing Market

December 1, 2017 – The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) reports that single-family home sales last month dipped by seven per cent from October but rose 23 per cent from November 2016.

Last month, 426 properties sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System compared to 346 one year ago and 458 in October. Inventory of single-family homes decreased by 13 per cent month over month and four per cent from one year ago. Although the supply of single-family homes for sale has been steadily rising each month since VIREB hit a historic low of 859 in December 2016, inventory dipped in October and once again in November.

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) notes that the housing market in B.C. is thriving due to strong economic fundamentals, such as robust retail sales, job growth, and population growth. British Columbia’s economy continues to lead the country, with GDP in 2018 expected to hit 3.8 per cent. Government policy decisions, including slightly higher interest rates and the new mortgage stress test (Guideline B-20), could affect the housing market in 2018, but it is too early to say in what way.

Introduced by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), Guideline B-20 – which takes effect on January 1, 2018 – extends the requirement for a mortgage stress test to all home buyers, even those who have more than 20 per cent as a down payment. However, some mortgage lenders – including credit unions such as Vancity, Coast Capital, and Prospera – do not come under OSFI’s jurisdiction, as they are provincially regulated by the Financial Institutions Commission. Unlike banks, which are federally regulated, credit unions in B.C. are not required to “stress test” their mortgage applicants. Therefore, buyers can get a mortgage with a credit union and income-qualify at the rate they will be paying, which may give them more purchasing power. But they would still have to pass the usual debt-service tests.

Don McClintock, VIREB President-Elect, reports that sales are still brisk throughout the VIREB area. Lack of inventory continues to drive home sales, and there are no apparent signs of buyer fatigue. However, multiple offers have decreased slightly in some markets, which could be good news for buyers.

“It’s emotionally draining when you continue to find, and then lose, the perfect home in a multiple-offer situation,” says McClintock. “Buyers will certainly welcome any relief on that front.”

However, the VIREB area is still a sellers’ market, notes McClintock, which makes this an optimum time to sell. He adds that connecting with a local REALTOR® is especially crucial in a competitive housing market.

“Our current market conditions can be confusing and chaotic for buyers and sellers, but REALTORS® have specialized knowledge of their communities that can help streamline the process to ensure the best possible outcome,” says McClintock.

In November 2017, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the VIREB area was $463,200, up 17 per cent from one year ago. (Benchmark pricing tracks the value of a typical home in the reported area.) The benchmark price of an apartment last month rose to $274,100, up 26 per cent board-wide from the previous year, while the benchmark price of a townhouse was $359,200, a 21 per cent increase from November 2016.

The November 2017 benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area was $366,300, an increase of 18 per cent over November 2016. In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price hit $467,200, up 21 per cent from last year. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $410,700, an increase of 15 per cent compared to November 2016. Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose 14 per cent to $497,200 while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price increase by 16 per cent to $525,600. The price of a benchmark home in Port Alberni was $252,700, up 18 per cent from one year ago.

Buyer Demand and Low Inventory Driving Brisk Housing Market

 

NANAIMO, BC – The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) reports that single-family home sales in October 2017 rose by 16 per cent from one year ago but dipped 10 per cent from September.

Last month, 460 properties sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System compared to 398 one year ago and 511 in September.

When looking at these sales figures, however, it is important to note that 2016 was a banner year for real estate. Some market correction was expected in 2017, but sales activity in the VIREB area is still robust. Further, VIREB attributes most of the decline in sales numbers to ongoing inventory challenges. In fact, although the supply of single-family homes for sale has been steadily rising each month since VIREB hit a historic low of 859 in December 2016, inventory in October was just 1,138, down two per cent from last year and eight per cent from September.

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that the housing market in British Columbia (B.C.), particularly in the southern half of the province, continues to thrive due to strong economic fundamentals. B.C.’s GDP is currently tracking at four per cent and is expected to average 3.7 per cent for the year. Government policy decisions, including slightly higher interest rates and the new mortgage stress test, could affect the housing market in 2018, but it is too early to say in what way. These attempts to temper rising home prices – aimed mainly at overheated markets in Vancouver and Toronto – will likely be counterbalanced by demographic factors, such as baby boomers entering their retirement years, millennials purchasing their first homes, and inter-provincial migration.

Janice Stromar, 2017 VIREB President, states that sales are still brisk throughout the VIREB area.

“Looking purely at statistics, it appears that the market is cooling, but the opposite is true,” says Stromar.

“Lack of inventory is certainly tempering sales, but what is available sells faster and for more money.” Stromar adds that multiple offers are still occurring regularly, even on condominiums, townhouses, and mobile homes, which is unusual for the VIREB area.

However, sellers still need to price their homes realistically. “Although many properties are selling above list price, sellers must set a reasonable price because consumers are savvy and may not look at an overpriced home,” says Stromar. Connecting with a local REALTOR® is especially crucial in a competitive housing market, adds Stromar.

“Our current market conditions can be confusing and chaotic for buyers and sellers, but REALTORS® have specialized knowledge of their communities that can help streamline the process to ensure the best possible outcome while mitigating associated risks,” says Stromar.

In October 2017, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the VIREB area rose to $463,800, up 17 per cent from one year ago. (Benchmark pricing tracks the value of a typical home in the reported area.) The benchmark price of an apartment last month rose to $272,300, up 28 per cent board-wide from the previous year, while the benchmark price of a townhouse hit $360,100, a 22 per cent increase from 2016.

The October 2017 benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area was $366,800, an increase of 19 per cent over October 2016. In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price hit $466,200, up 20 per cent from last year. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $409,500, an increase of 14 per cent compared to October 2016. Nanaimo’s benchmark price broke the $500,000 mark, rising 14 per cent to hit $501,400. The Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price increase by 17 per cent to $524,900, while the price of a benchmark home in Port Alberni was $253,600, up 18 per cent from one year ago.