Home sales stay strong; pent-up demand, low mortgage rates cited

Greater Victoria saw a record 990 property sales in October, nearly a 60 per cent increase compared with the same month in 2019, and a slight increase over the 989 sales recorded last month, the Victoria Real Estate Board said Monday.

“Once again, another month concluded with numbers that surprised many of us,” said board president Sandi-Jo Ayers. “Sales for October broke the record for the month and inventory continues to be snapped up quickly.”

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Ayers said the increased demand in a market with ­relatively low supply has resulted in multiple-offer ­situations on many properties, with condos and single-family homes the ­target of most buyers.

Ayers suggested there may be a number of reasons for the surge in the market, while other sectors have suffered due to physical distancing guidelines and government directives.

“We have mentioned ­previously the pent-up demand — how sales, that were depressed over the spring because of the pandemic, occurred later during the summer. These delayed sales resulted in higher than average numbers for our summer and early fall market,” she said.

Ayers said there may also be new demand brought on by ­people wanting to take ­advantage of historically low mortgage rates.

“It may also be because of our current public health situation,” she said. “Some people may be anticipating a slowdown in general activity over the winter months due to the course of the pandemic and so are accelerating their plans.”

Ayers said if that’s the case there may be continued strong sales activity through the fall and early winter, rather than the usual winter lull. “In a normal year, we would see a tapering off of activity leading to the winter season, but thus far we have seen sustained sales and demand through October.”

The board said sales of ­condominiums were up 70.8 per cent from October 2019 with 304 units sold. Sales of ­single-family homes were up 53.1 per cent from October 2019 with 487 sold.

At the end of October there were 2,122 active listings in the region, 19.7 per cent fewer ­properties than the total ­available at the end of ­October 2019 and an 11.2 per cent decrease from the 2,389 active listings at the end of September this year.

With increased demand, ­multiple offers and dwindling inventory, prices have increased.

The board noted the benchmark price of a single-family home in Victoria Core (Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay, Esquimalt and View Royal) was $879,600 in October, a 2.3 per cent increase from the same time last year. The benchmark price for a condominium in the core last month was $512,300, a slight drop from the $512,500 recorded in October 2019.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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