B.C. real estate already hot heading into spring

The value of homes and the number of sales in British Columbia hit all-time highs for the month of February as the province’s hot housing market holds momentum.

“Housing demand is now at a breakneck pace,” Cameron Muir, chief economist for the B.C. Real Estate Association, said Monday. “Home sales last month were not only a record for the month of February, but on a seasonally adjusted basis, demand has never been stronger in the province.”

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The dollar volume for homes hit $7.51 billion in February, up 76.4 per cent compared to a year ago. Year-to-date, B.C. residential dollar volume increased 73.6 per cent to $11.9 billion, when compared with the same period in 2015.

A total of 9,637 housing units sold in B.C. through the Multiple Listing Service in February, beating the previous record set in 1992 with 8,157 units.

The capital region is experiencing multiple offers that surpass listing prices. Sales through the Victoria Real Estate Board last month reached 772, the highest for February since 1992.

Mike Nugent, president of the board, said that while there’s limited inventory in the core, prices in the West Shore are less competitive because they have the ability to create supply to meet demand. The benchmark for a single-family house in the West Shore is $432,600, below the core at $638,700.

Mike Holmes, Pemberton Holmes president, said prices and sales have increased in places such as Sooke and up Island, reaching pre-recession levels.

Tony Joe of Re/Max predicts the number of properties for sale in Greater Victoria will increase in coming weeks, as spring is traditionally an active time for sales.

The capital region’s market is attracting Vancouver residents cashing out to move here and purchasers from China, all fuelling higher prices. Buyers determined to get a property are making offers without any conditions.

Its strength was illustrated this month when Nicole Burgess, an agent with Pemberton Holmes, represented a client who paid $152,000 above the $1.2-million asking price for a Fairfield house. Offers came in from local and international bidders.

The client loved the property and did not want to miss out, she said.

When it comes to deciding what to offer, Burgess tells clients: “Go to the maximum dollar you can afford and you feel right for. Then ask the question, ‘Are you willing to lose this deal for $10,000?’ If you are, then that’s your price.

“If you are going to have a broken heart if you lose it for $10,000, add that amount and maybe $1,000 or $2,000 more to set your maximum bid.”

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