After years of rising values, benchmark house prices cooling in Victoria core

 

For the first time in two years, the benchmark value of a single-family home in the region and the Victoria core — Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay, View Royal and Esquimalt — has fallen, according to numbers released Friday by the Victoria Real Estate Board.

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The benchmark price, considered a more accurate reflection of housing prices in a given area, dropped to $694,500 in August from $700,800 in July while the benchmark price in the core dropped to $823,100 from $834,200 from the previous month.

“Though much too early to call a trend, we do see that the benchmark value for single-family homes in the Victoria Core area has decreased by 1.3 per cent when compared to July,” Ara Balabanian, president of the board, said in a statement on Friday. “This is the first time we’ve noted a decrease in [benchmark] values since August 2015.”

At the same time, prices remain significantly higher than the same time last year, as the benchmark price of a single-family home in the core was $743,200 in August 2016, and in the region it was $613,100.

“This is not an indicator of a huge change in property values across our region. We’ve seen a phenomenally busy two years in real estate for our area and we are likely heading toward a period of more balanced activity,” said

Balabanian.

The market seems to have cooled a little compared with the same time last year.

According to the VREB’s figures, there were 736 properties sold in August, down from the 883 properties sold in August 2016. It was also a drop from the 790 properties sold in July this year.

Balabanian said he was surprised by the numbers, especially the continued lack of inventory in the region. There were 1,917 active listings at the end of August, down slightly from the 1,921 available in July and the 2,094 in August last year. “I expected inventory numbers to be climbing by now, but instead we’ve seen even lower numbers of listings on the market. This is likely leading to some buyer fatigue along with pressure on pricing in high-demand areas,” he said.

Sales also dipped on the other side of the Malahat, according to the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board. Citing a lack of inventory as the problem, the VIREB said single-family home sales dropped last month to 540 from the 557 in July and the 622 in August 2016.

There were 1,349 single-family homes for sale between the Malahat and the north tip of the Island in August compared to 1,395 at the same time last year.

“Our housing market shows no signs of slowing down, and there is little evidence of buyer fatigue," said Janice Stromar, president of the VIREB. “Multiple offers continue to be the norm, and we're now receiving them on condominiums and townhouses, which is virtually unprecedented for the VIREB area.”

Stromar noted while many properties are selling above listing price, sellers still need to price their homes correctly because consumers are savvy and will not purchase an overpriced home.

The benchmark price of a single-family home in the VIREB area rose to $457,500 last month, an 18 per cent increase since last year.

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