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.

Low Inventory Continues to Write its Own Sales Story

VIREB NANAIMO, BC – The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) reports that in April 2017, 478 single-family properties sold on the MLS® System compared to 659 last April, a decrease of 27 per cent.Month over month, sales edged slightly lower from March.

Inventory of single-family homes declined by 33 per cent from April 2016, with 1,122 active listings available last month compared to 1,694 one year ago. Additional listings have entered the market since VIREB hit its historic inventory low of 859 in December 2016. Active listings rose to 893 in January, 949 in February, and 1,023 in March. However, properties are being snapped up almost as soon as they hit the market.

“Properly priced single-family homes between $400,000 and $600,000 rarely last more than 48 hours and usually generate multiple offers, with many selling above list price,” says Janice Stromar, 2017 VIREB President.

The real estate market on Vancouver Island has been telling the same story for several months now, notes Stromar.

“Limited supply, combined with high demand, means it has been a sellers’ market for months. Sellers are in the drivers’ seat, and the lack of inventory is frustrating buyers and REALTORS® alike,”says Stromar. “That said, even though we are in a sellers’ market, homeowners still need to price their home correctly. Houses can sit unsold for months if they are priced higher than the market will bear.”

She adds that sellers are not immune to the frustration that buyers are experiencing because it is hard to sell your home if you cannot find another property to buy. Still, homeowners reluctant to sell due to concerns of housing availability should make the most of this hot market.

“Real estate is cyclical, and consumers need to take advantage of these market conditions because they won’t last forever,” says Stromar. “When the market does correct itself – and it always does – it usually happens without warning.”

She adds that connecting with a local REALTOR® is especially crucial in a competitive housing market.

“This kind of market can be confusing and chaotic for buyers and sellers, but REALTORS® have specialized knowledge of their communities that can help clarify the situation,” says Stromar. “We’re also equipped with sales tools, such as custom analytics, to help buyers formulate winning offers and ensure sellers receive maximum dollars for their home.”

In April 2017, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the VIREB area was $419,100, up 17.5 per cent from one year ago. Prices increased in every zone, ranging from 13 per cent in Duncan to 22 per cent in Nanaimo. The benchmark price of an apartment in April rose 28 per cent board-wide from the previous year, but the highest increase was in Campbell River, at 39 per cent. The townhouse market also strengthened in April, posting a 21 per cent increase board-wide.

The April 2017 benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area was $335,000, an increase of 18 per cent over April 2016. In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price hit $415,800, up 16 per cent from 2016. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $354,400, an increase of 13 per cent compared to April 2016. Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose 22 per cent to $461,600 while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price increase by 20 per cent to $477,700. The price of a benchmark home in Port Alberni hit $227,400, up 19 per cent from one year ago.

VIREB – Still a Seller’s Market

March 1, 2017 Despite Additional Inventory, the VIREB Area is Still a Sellers’ Market

WELCOME MARCH!

NANAIMO, BC – In February 2017, 347 single-family homes sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System compared to 406 last February, a decrease of 15 per cent.

Sales rose by 42 per cent from January 2017, which saw 245 sales. Inventory of single-family homes declined by 38 per cent from February 2016, with 949 active listings compared to 1,529 one year ago.However, the 949 available properties reflect a six per cent increase over January, an encouraging development since the lack of inventory continues to challenge consumers and REALTORS® in the VIREB area.

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that strong economic fundamentals are fuelling housing demand throughout British Columbia, with the B.C. economy continuing to outpace the rest of Canada. Among other factors, increased population growth is a significant force driving the provincial housing market.

“In the first three-quarters of 2016, net migration to British Columbia hit 50,000 people,” says Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “Although most of those residents will end up on the Lower Mainland, the effects of this influx will inevitably trickle into other markets.”

Although BCREA expects the provincial economy to weaken somewhat this year, consumer confidence and job growth should continue to have a net positive effect on the housing market. After dipping in late 2016 and early 2017, overall sales activity in the province appears to be trending upwards again, and that is certainly happening on Vancouver Island.

In fact, sales in the VIREB area would no doubt be much higher if there were more properties available, says Janice Stromar, 2017 VIREB President.

“The Nanaimo market in February was busier than I’ve ever seen,” says Stromar. “Single-family homes in the $450,000 range are practically flying out the door, and multiple offers are the norm, not the exception.”

The VIREB area has been a sellers’ market for several months now, and Stromar encourages people to list their homes now.

“Real estate is cyclical, and consumers need to take advantage of these market conditions because they won’t last forever,” says Stromar.

She adds that connecting with a local REALTOR® is especially crucial in a competitive housing market. REALTORS® have specialized knowledge of their communities and are equipped with sales tools, such as custom analytics, to help buyers formulate winning offers and help sellers receive maximum dollars for their home.

In February 2017, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the VIREB area was $403,100, up 18 per cent from one year ago. Prices increased in every zone, ranging from 14 per cent in Duncan and Port Alberni to 25 per cent in Nanaimo. The benchmark price of an apartment in February rose 22 per cent board-wide from the previous year, but the highest increases were seen in Parksville-Qualicum (24 per cent), the Comox Valley (26 per cent), and Campbell River (26 per cent). The townhouse market also strengthened in January, posting a 20 per cent increase board-wide.

The February 2017 benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area was $318,100, an increase of 17 per cent over February 2016. In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price hit $401,000, up 17 per cent from 2016. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $345,500, an increase of 14 per cent compared to February 2016. Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose 25 per cent to $444,400 while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price increase by 20 per cent to $454,100. The price of a benchmark home in Port Alberni stayed the same as in January but did rise by 14 per cent from one year ago.

Another Rule

 

A lot of people seem to have missed hearing about this one (maybe because it’s about taxes) but it could have negative consequences if you fail to pay attention.

 

On October 3, 2016, the Government announced an administrative change to Canada Revenue Agency’s reporting requirements for the sale of a principal residence.

When you sell your principal residence or when you are considered to have sold it, usually you do not have to report the sale on your income tax and benefit return and you do not have to pay tax on any gain from the sale. This is the case if you are eligible for the full income tax exemption (principal residence exemption) because the property was your principal residence for every year you owned it.

Starting with the 2016 tax year, generally due by late April 2017, you will be required to report basic information (date of acquisition, proceeds of disposition and description of the property) on your income tax and benefit return when you sell your principal residence to claim the full principal residence exemption.

The Potential Implications

If you fail to report the sale of a residence in 2016 or later years, you won’t be entitled to the PRE. If you forget to designate a property as your principal residence in the year of sale (for 2016 and later years), you should ask CRA to amend your tax return for that year. CRA will often accept a late designation but penalties could apply (the penalty could be $100 for each complete month the designation is late, or $8,000, whichever is less).  For further information check out the following links:

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/gncy/bdgt/2016/qa11-eng.html

http://www.thor.ca/blog/2016/10/new-tax-reporting-rules-for-principal-residence-sales/

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.”

Inventory Challenges Continue to Moderate Sales Activity

Inventory Challenges Continue to Moderate Sales Activity

Loving Vancouver Island

 

NANAIMO, BC – In January 2017, 245 single-family homes sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System compared to 258 last January, a decrease of five per cent.

Sales were virtually unchanged from December, which saw 243 sales. VIREB attributes this static sales activity to inventory challenges rather than insufficient demand. Active listings of single-family homes did increase by four per cent in January to 893 from December’s 852, which typically happens at the beginning of the year, with 389 properties coming onto the market last month. However, inventory is still down by 38 per cent from one year ago, a significant reduction from the 1,431 available properties in January 2016.

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that housing demand in the VIREB area and throughout British Columbia is being driven by a provincial economy that continues to outperform the rest of Canada.

Although BCREA does expect B.C.’s economy to weaken somewhat this year, strong job and population growth will continue to have a net positive effect on the housing market. “Although BCREA anticipates that less robust economic conditions combined with government policy constraints will slow housing demand by more than 15 per cent in 2017, unit sales should remain well above the 10-year average of 85,000,” says Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “Sales in the VIREB area this year will likely trend lower than in 2016, but this is merely the market returning to more normal levels from last year’s unprecedented sales activity.”

Janice Stromar, 2017 VIREB President, reaffirms that housing sales in the VIREB area would be much higher if there were more homes available. “We’ve been in a sellers’ market for several months now, with buyers snapping up available properties and multiple offers a common occurrence,” says Stromar. “But real estate is cyclical, and these conditions won’t last forever. If you’ve been thinking of selling, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of our current market situation.

” Stromar adds that connecting with a local REALTOR® is especially crucial in a competitive housing market. REALTORS® have specialized knowledge of their communities and are equipped with sales tools, such as custom analytics, to help you develop a winning strategy for buying or selling a home.

In January 2017, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the VIREB area was $400,000, up 18 per cent from one year ago. Prices increased in every zone, ranging from 14 per cent in Duncan to 21 per cent in the Comox Valley and Nanaimo.

The benchmark price of an apartment rose 21 per cent board-wide from the previous year, but the highest increases were posted in Parksville-Qualicum (25 per cent), the Comox Valley (27 per cent), and Campbell River (28 per cent).

The townhouse market also strengthened in January, posting an 18 per cent increase board-wide and high double-digit increases in every zone, from 16 per cent in Nanaimo to 26 per cent in Parksville-Qualicum.

The January 2017 benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area was $311,900, an increase of 16 per cent over January 2016. In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price was $400,400, up 21 per cent from 2016. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $348,000, an increase of 14 per cent compared to January 2016. Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose 21 per cent to $434,100 while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price rise by 18 per cent to $457,800. The price of a benchmark home in Port Alberni hit $216,100, up 16 per cent from one year ago.

VIREB – Inventory Levels Drop to Historic Low

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 1, 2016 Inventory Levels Drop to Historic Low in August

NANAIMO, BC – Inventory levels of single-family homes in the VIREB area dropped to a historic low in August, dipping to 1,394, a 38 per cent decrease from one year ago and down from July’s 1,577 available listings. The last time inventory was this low occurred in 2005 when the supply of single-family homes for sale dropped to 1,629 units. VIREB began tracking inventory levels in 1999.

Other market segments are also seeing reduced inventory. Active listings of apartments dropped to 391 last month from 641 in August 2015, a decrease of 39 per cent. Townhouse inventory declined by 32 per cent from one year ago.

In August 2016, 624 single-family homes sold on the MLS® System compared to 439 last August, an increase of 42 per cent. Month over month, sales of single-family homes rose slightly from July, which saw 605 unit sales. Apartment sales also increased significantly from one year ago, with 118 units selling last month, an 87 per cent increase from the 63 units sold in August 2015. More townhouses sold last month as well: 63 compared to 54 in August 2015, an increase of 17 per cent.

Robust housing sales throughout the province, particularly in the southern half, continue to be driven by a solid economic foundation consisting of consumer confidence, strong retail sales, and employment growth of three per cent. With GDP sitting at 3.5 per cent, British Columbia’s economy is leading the country.

Although a moderating trend in activity and prices is occurring in the Vancouver market, that slowdown is not affecting the VIREB area thus far. Market conditions in Vancouver and throughout the Lower Mainland appear to be experiencing some backlash from the Foreign Buyer Tax introduced at the beginning of August, although prices have not dropped significantly. Sales have taken a hit, yet it is too early to determine whether this is a temporary cooling in sales activity or indicative of a larger trend.

“Sales are beginning to normalize in the Vancouver marketplace, but we don’t anticipate a significant correction any time soon,” says Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “The typical moderating trend seen after months of hectic activity might have been accelerated slightly by the Foreign Buyer Tax, but we just don’t know yet. We can predict many things, but not the psychology of consumers.”

Limited inventory continues to be a challenge for buyers and REALTORS® in the VIREB area, with multiple offers on accurately priced homes continuing to be the norm rather than the exception. Margo Hoffman, 2016 VIREB President, is encouraging potential home sellers to take advantage of these market conditions.

“With the number of single-family homes for sale dropping to 1,394 last month, a historic low, it’s clear that home sellers are in the driver’s seat,” says Hoffman. “But sellers’ markets don’t last forever, so if you’re thinking of selling your home, now is the time.”

Hoffman adds that in a competitive housing market, connecting with a local REALTOR® is crucial to ensure you develop a winning strategy for buying or selling your home.

In August 2016, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the VIREB area was $384,000, up 13.23 per cent from one year ago. Prices increased in every zone, ranging from nine per cent in Port Alberni to 16 per cent in Nanaimo and 17 per cent in the Parksville-Qualicum area. The benchmark price of an apartment rose approximately 15 per cent board-wide, with Duncan and Parksville-Qualicum reporting 25 and 23 per cent increases, respectively. The townhouse market also strengthened, as seen in the benchmark price increasing by 10.63 per cent.

The August 2016 benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area was $304,200, an increase of 10.41 per cent over August 2015. In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price was $380,200, up 12 per cent from 2015. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $333,800, an increase of 11.30 per cent compared to August 2015. Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose 15.80 per cent to $413,500 while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price rise by 17 per cent to $443,500. The price of a benchmark home in Port Alberni was $209,500, up nine per cent from one year ag

VIREB Market Update August 2016

August 2, 2016 Home Sales a Bit Cooler in July But Significantly Higher Than Last Year

NANAIMO, BC – Home sales in the VIREB area cooled somewhat last month but posted a 19 per cent increase over July 2015.

In July 2016, 608 single-family homes sold on the MLS® System compared to 512 last July. Month over month, sales decreased by 15 per cent from the 712 sales processed in June 2016. Last month’s active listings for single-family homes totalled 1,577, down 34 per cent from the 2,391 reported in July 2015 and beating June’s figure of 1,621.

This is a historic low for VIREB, which began tracking inventory levels in 1999. The last time inventory was this low occurred in 2005 when the number of single-family homes for sale dropped to 1,629.

Economic factors fueling the provincial housing market are strong consumer confidence, robust retail sales, and high employment growth. With GDP sitting at 3.5 per cent, British Columbia’s economy continues to lead the country. Concerning the new Foreign Buyer Tax that takes effect today, Muir says it is too early to know whether it will affect home prices on the Lower Mainland or spill over into other parts of the province.

“The housing market is usually slower in the summer months, but we believe that sales might be beginning to normalize,” says Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “If so, that would allow inventory to build up and ease pricing pressure a bit.”

Margo Hoffman, 2016 VIREB President, agrees that the housing market typically cools during the summer, and this trend likely accounts for July’s lower sales figures. However, limited inventory continues to be a challenge for buyers and REALTORS®.

“Although we’re in a seller’s market, homeowners are holding back because they’re worried they won’t find another home to purchase,” says Hoffman. “We’re beginning to see more inventory, but buyers snap up available properties quickly.”

Low inventory is also contributing to rising benchmark prices for single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments. Despite those increases, however, the Vancouver Island housing market continues to be affordable compared to the Lower Mainland and Victoria.

“Home buyers in the VIREB area have a variety of price points as options,” adds Hoffman. “The benchmark price of a singlefamily home ranges from a low of $209,600 in Port Alberni to a high of $443,800 in the Parksville-Qualicum area, so there is a price to suit almost everyone.”

Hoffman agrees that at the moment, there is no way to say whether the Foreign Buyer Tax will affect home prices in the VIREB area. For now, the housing market remains competitive, so connecting with a local REALTOR® is crucial to ensure you develop a winning strategy for buying or selling your home.

In July 2016, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the VIREB area was $379,900, up just under 12 per cent from one year ago. The benchmark price of an apartment rose by 9.77 per cent to hit $207,900 while the benchmark price of a townhouse increased to $277,900, up just over 10 per cent from one year ago. Benchmark pricing tracks the value of a typical home in the reported area. The average price of a single-family home last month was $409,816, an increase of 12 per cent over July 2015.

The July 2016 benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area was $301,400, an increase of 5.57 per cent over July 2015. In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price was $371,000, up 10.68 per cent from 2015. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $326,700, an increase of just over nine per cent compared to July 2015. Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose 15.46 per cent to $409,700 while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price rise by 17 per cent to $443,800. The price of a benchmark home in Port Alberni was $209,600, up 7.86 per cent from one year ago.