It was a month like no other in real estate history in Greater Victoria as more properties sold in April than in any other month since 1991.
According to data Monday from the Victoria Real Estate Board, there were 1,286 property sales in April, an all-time record for a single month in the region and a 53 per cent increase over the 840 properties sold in April last year.
The previous record for property sales through the Multiple Listing Service was 1,121, set last month. Before that the record was 1,083 sales, set in May 1991.
“We continue to see extraordinary interest in the Victoria and area housing market,” said board president Mike Nugent. “Likely this is because the trends we reviewed last month continue — low mortgage rates, higher employment numbers, diversity of properties for sale and, of course, the growing international awareness that Victoria is an amazing place to live.”
While there has been attention from buyers in Vancouver and beyond, the majority of sales are local. “Last year, 70.5 per cent of buyers were from Victoria, and this year in the first quarter we see 72.5 per cent of buyers from the area,” said Nugent.
Through the first quarter of the year, 8.2 per cent of buyers were from the Lower Mainland, up from 7.4 per cent last year.
“It’s also noteworthy that we’ve seen a decrease in buyers from Alberta,” said Nugent, noting last year the region saw 5.7 per cent of buyers from the neighbouring province. “This quarter we saw3.9 per cent.”
There was a small increase in buyers from the U.S. — one per cent, up from 0.8 per cent last year, and 0.8 per cent were from Asia, up slightly from last year.
Inventory levels remain lower than last year with 2,594 active listings for sale on the real estate board’s MLS as of April, a 34 per cent drop from the 3,945 active listings at the end of April 2015.
With increased activity and lower inventory levels, prices have jumped.
The benchmark April value for a single family home in Victoria core, which excludes Vic West, rose 17.7 per cent to $684,900, up from $581,700 last year.
“If you are shopping for a home right now, there is a good chance that if you’re looking in a higher-demand area [Victoria core, Saanich, Oak Bay] you may find yourself in a multiple-offer situation,” said Nugent. “This is because there are more buyers than homes for sale and so the market is more competitive than we’ve seen.”
Nugent suggests people consider property and locations they may not have originally identified as possibilities.