January home sales drop after pre-stress-test buying spree

If you’re in the market to buy a detached home in Greater Vancouver, you’ll likely have a lot more luck than if you’re looking for a condo, according to the latest home sales statistics.

There were 1,818 home sales of all property types in Greater Vancouver in January, which is up 19.4 per cent from January 2017, but down 9.8 per cent versus December, according to statistics released by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) February 2.

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The drop is likely partially due to the relatively high volume of sales seen late last year, especially in November, as buyers brought forward their purchasing plans to get ahead of the mortgage stress test launched January 1. January is also typically the slowest month of the year for real estate sales.

January’s activity was still a reasonably strong showing for the time of year, at 7.5 per cent higher than the 10-year average for the month (see interactive graph below).

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There were 3,796 homes newly listed in January, more than double the number listed in December, as sellers greeted the New Year with enthusiasm. However, this is an 8.3 per cent decrease compared to the 4,140 homes listed in January 2017.

This brings the total number of homes currently listed for sale on Greater Vancouver’s MLS® to 6,947, a four per cent drop compared with January 2017 (7,238) and a 0.2 per cent decline from December 2017.

The board reported the sales-to-active listings ratio for January 2018 as 26.2 per cent, which is still deemed a seller’s market, but the overall ratio is dropping.

However, breaking the ratio down by property type reveals huge differences between the three home-type markets. The ratio has fallen to 11.6 per cent for detached homes, bringing this figure into buyer’s market territory (a balanced market is between 12 and 20 per cent for a sustained period). The same figure is 32.8 per cent for townhomes, which is a strong seller’s market. And it’s 57.2 per cent for condos, which indicates high demand and low supply, where sellers can expect bidding wars and over-asking offers.

“Demand remains elevated and listings scarce in the attached and apartment markets across Metro Vancouver,” said Jill Oudil, REBGV president. “Buyers in the detached market are facing less competition and have much more selection to choose. For detached home sellers to be successful, it’s important to set prices that reflect today’s market trends.”

The composite benchmark price for all home types combined across the region now stands at $1,056,500. This is a 16.6 per cent increase over the same month last year and 0.6 per cent higher than December 2017.

Sales and prices by home type

Detached home sales in January totalled 487 units, which is 21.1 per cent lower than December, and the lowest annual rise of the three home types, at 9.7 per cent higher than January 2017.

The benchmark price of a typical single-family home also fell month-over-month, to $1,601,500. This represents an 8.3 per cent increase from January 2017 but a 0.3 per cent decline compared with December 2017’s $1,605,800.

There were 319 sales of attached homes such as townhomes and duplexes, which is a 25.6 per cent increase, although 14 per cent lower than December’s 371 sales.

An attached home in the REBGV region is now benchmarked at a price of $803,700. This is the same price as in December 2017 and a 17.5 per cent higher than January 2017.

Condos were the property type to waver the least, falling just 1.5 per cent compared with December to reach 1,012 sales in January. This is a 22.7 per cent increase compared with the 825 sales in January 2017.

Condo benchmark prices also performed the best, continuing to rise both monthly and annually, now at $665,400. This is a 27.4 per cent rise since January 2017 and 1.5 per cent – exactly $10K – more than December 2017’s $655,400.

Fraser Valley highlights

The REBGV region covers areas north of the southern arm of the Fraser River. The rest of Metro Vancouver, including Surrey, Langley and Abbotsford, reports to the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB).

The Fraser Valley saw a similar pattern in January to the REBGV’s sales statistics, with the 1,210 recorded home sales a rise of 24 per cent year over year, and a drop of 10 per cent from December, the FVREB announced February 2.

This was still the third-highest sales total for a January in the FVREB’s history, behind only 2016 (1,338 sales) and 1992 (1,270).

The Valley’s typical home prices also kept rising in January, with the benchmark for all home types combined up 1.6 per cent month over month to $778,100 – a 22.4 per cent jump since January 2017.

Home prices vary widely in different areas throughout the REBGV and FVREB regions. 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 REBGV full statistics package and the FVREB statistics package

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