Average and median prices, number of transactions down from 2011

Greater Victoria's real estate market cooled in August as the total number of sales slid month-overmonth for single-family homes, condos and townhouses.

Although some price increases were seen from the previous month, the average and median (midway) prices for homes dropped from August of last year, the Victoria Real Estate Board's monthly sales report said Tuesday.

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The market is not falling, said Shelley Mann, president-elect of the Victoria Board. But she added: "We are definitely in a flat market. There's no question."

Mann predicts that the number of sales will rise in September and October - typical for those months after summer - and that prices will be steady.

Today's buyers are welleducated, looking for good deals and taking a wait-andsee approach, she said.

The average days on the market for a single-family house to sell was 63 last month, up from 51 in August of last year and 61 in August 2010.

A total of 5,034 properties were on the board's multiple listing service at the end of August. The highest priced MLS property is $12.9 million for Chateau de Lis at 9750 West Saanich Rd. in North Saanich. The waterfront European-style home with six bedrooms and eight bathrooms sits on six acres.

The median price for condos in Greater Victoria is predicted to decline to $277,752 this year from $287,237 in 2011, said another report, also released Tuesday, from Genworth Canada and the Conference Board of Canada. However, next year should see the median price increase to $284,710, it said.

Robin Wiebe, a senior economist at the Conference Board of Canada, said from Ottawa that the Greater Victoria condominium market is soft.

In 2009, the sales-to-listings ratio for condos was almost 23 per cent. Last year, it was 13 per cent, he said. "Sales have been falling over the last couple of years and listings have been rising."

Wiebe predicts condo sales will increase and list-ings will drop, pushing up the price of condos. Firsttime buyers, retirees and population growth are all anticipated to fuel demand for condos in Canada, the report said.

Wendy Moreton, real estate agent with Newport Realty, said, "I agree that condos are going to lose value over the next period. I'm not entirely sure we are going to see them go up in 2013. I think the oversupply is going to continue for a while."

As for single-family homes, industry predictions indicate that prices could decline for a year or 18 months before they bottom out at five to 10 per cent lower and then start increasing again, she said.

She sees positive economic signs in employment, citing work coming up in B.C.'s shipbuilding industry, strong tourism results in August and continuing low interest rates. Plus, "If there's a hard winter in the rest of the country, our phones will ring."

Real estate plays a major role in the local economy. Last month, the Victoria board recorded a total of 462 sales, including residential and commercial properties and lots, with a value of $211 million.

A total of 215 single-family houses sold in Greater Victoria in August. The average price was $590,843 and the median was $530,000. The average price last month was slightly higher at $581,746. A year ago, the average was up to $652,841.

Average prices can be affected by the number of high-end homes sold in the region. Last month, 10 houses sold for $1 million and more. One of those was priced at $2 million-plus.

Saanich East had the highest number of singlefamily sales, with 49, followed by Victoria with 27, Saanich West at 25 and Langford at 22.

New condominium buildings are going up throughout the region. A total of 127 condos were sold in August. Victoria topped the list with 52, followed by Saanich East at 31.

The average price of a condo sold in August was $320,650 and the median was $262,900. In July, the average was somewhat higher at $326,833. In August of last year, the average was $339,057.

A total of 47 townhouses sold in the region last month, with an average price of $432,459 and a median of $369,000. Last month, the average was $379,569, while in August the average was $437,079.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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