Signs of a market recovery? Home sales improve slightly in October

Metro Vancouver’s real estate activity brightens, with Squamish townhomes still a hot commodity

September may have been dismal for real estate sales, but October showed a slight improvement, the latest statistics from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reveal.

There were 1,966 home sales across Metro Vancouver (including Squamish) in October 2018, according to board stats released November 2. That’s a considerable 23.3 per cent increase compared with September's 1,595 residential sales.

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October’s transactions were 34.9 per cent below those of October 2017, which is certainly low, but not as dire as September's 43.5 per cent annual drop.

Last month’s resale totals were 26.8 per cent below the 10-year average for October sales – a weak performance, but higher than the 38.2 per cent decline seen the previous month.

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The somewhat improved sales activity has also slightly reduced the number of homes available for purchase, although this is likely mostly related to a decline in sellers listing their homes in October.

There were 4,873 homes newly listed on Metro Vancouver’s MLS in October, which is a 7.4 per cent increase over October 2017 but a 7.7 per cent decrease compared with September. The total number of homes current listed for sale as of October 31 is 12,984, a 42.1 per cent increase compared with October 2017 and a 0.8 per cent drop compared with September this year.

“The supply of homes for sale today is beginning to return to levels that we haven’t seen in our market in about four years,” said Phil Moore, REBGV president. “For home buyers, this means you have more selection to choose from. For sellers, it means your home may face more competition, from other listings, in the marketplace.”

The region remains in a balanced market for all property types combined, but the sales-to-active-listings ratio has increased to 15 per cent, up from last month’s 12.2 per cent. That moves it away from the sub-12 per cent balanced market territory it was previously heading towards.

As has been the case over the past few months, the region’s detached homes are already in a buyer’s market at 10.3 per cent, with more balanced markets for townhomes, now at 17.3 per cent, and condos at 20.6 per cent. All three home types saw a rise in their sales-to-active-listings ratios last month, with condos edging up against the balanced/seller’s market cusp.

The composite benchmark price for all homes in Metro Vancouver is currently $1,062,100. This is one per cent higher than October 2017, but $8,500 lower than September’s price and a 3.3 per cent decrease over the last three months.

“Home prices have edged down between three and five per cent, depending on housing type, in our region since June,” said Moore. “This is providing a little relief for those looking to buy compared to the all-time highs we’ve experienced over the last year.”

Sales and prices by property type and region

Having been the property types to fall the hardest these past few months, detached houses seemed to bounce back the most in October – at least for now. There were 637 single-family home sales in the region last month, which is a 32.2 drop from October 2017 – the lowest decline of all three home types – and a 25.4 per cent rise from September, which was the steepest jump.

However, single-family homes are still the only property type to see current benchmark values lower than a year ago, with the price of a typical Metro Vancouver house now at $1,524,000. This is a 5.1 per cent decline from October 2017 and a 3.9 per cent decrease over the last three months.

Once again, the areas with the steepest value declines in the detached sector were West Vancouver, where benchmark prices are down 10.9 per cent year over year, and Vancouver West, down 9.9 per cent – although both those annual percentage decreases are smaller than a month ago. Squamish detached homes also slid, but less than the regional trend, down just 0.2 per cent on an annual basis. House prices in Maple Ridge, Whistler, Pitt Meadows, Sunshine Coast and Bowen Island remain above that of a year ago – but not one area saw prices in October as high as their peak in spring this year.

Sales of attached homes such as townhomes, duplexes and row houses in October 2018 totalled 344, a 37.5 per cent drop from October 2017 but a 25.1 per cent increase over September. The benchmark price of an attached home now stands at $829,200, which is 4.4 per cent higher than October 2017 but a 2.8 per cent decrease over the past three months.

Vancouver’s two areas, East and West, were the only two to see an annual decline in townhome benchmark prices, both down 2.6 per cent year over year. Every other region under the REBGV jurisdiction reported annual attached home value increases, led by Pitt Meadows at 15.3 per cent, Port Moody at 11.7 per cent and Burnaby East at 10.1 per cent. Squamish also saw above-trend townhome price rises, up 8.9 per cent year over year.

A total of 985 Metro Vancouver condos traded in October 2018, a decline of 35.7 per cent decrease compared to the 1,532 sales in October 2017 – sept 812. The benchmark price of an apartment property is $683,500. This is a 5.8 per cent increase from October 2017 and a 3.1 per cent slide since July.

All but one Metro Vancouver area saw a year-over-year rise in condo benchmark prices, with New Westminster leading the pack, up 13.4 per cent, and Squamish condo values 7.4 per cent higher than a year ago. West Vancouver was the sole area where prices are 0.5 per cent lower than October last year.

Home prices vary widely in different areas throughout the region. To get a good idea of home prices in a specific location and by property type, check the detailed MLS® Home Price Index in the full REBGV stats package.

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