Region’s real estate sales, prices slipping in slow start to spring

The number of sales and the selling price of homes in the region continues to lag behind last year’s pace, according to data released Wednesday by the Greater Victoria Real Estate Board.

There were 696 properties sold last month, down from 774 sold in April 2018, while the benchmark sales price in the region for a single-family home hit $747,800 last month compared with $754,200.

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“Spring has been a non-traditional real estate market thus far,” said board president Cheryl Woolley. “Consumer purchasing power continues to be negatively impacted by the mortgage stress test, causing many buyers to step back while they save more money for a down payment.”

Inventory levels in the region have increased compared with last year. There were 2,751 active listings as of the end of April compared with 2,002 at the same time last year. Year-to-date there have been 4,330 properties listed for sale, compared with 4,088 at this time in 2018.

At the same time the total value of all sales so far this year is $1.38 billion, below the $1.67 billion through the first four months of last year.

“Prices have remained reasonably flat across the region and are expected to stay that way,” said Woolley, who noted inventory still remains something of an issue and when the “right property” comes onto the market there might be a multiple-offer situation.

The benchmark price for a condo in the region has increased slightly to $501,800 from $497,500 in April last year, while townhouses in the region hit $598,600 up from $570,400 last year.

A similar tale was told north of the Malahat Drive in April as the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board reported sales of single-family homes dipped 13 per cent in April compared to last year.

There were 412 single-family homes sold last month compared to 475 in April 2018. In the apartment and townhouse categories, sales dropped by three per cent and 24 per cent, respectively.

Again, the mortgage stress test is being blamed for the downturn, with the VIREB noting it’s “wreaking havoc” in the Lower Mainland and that has started to spill over onto the Island.

However, according to the VIREB, prices are still rising, though it’s by a smaller amount than in previous years.

“We’re seeing many sellers who want to list their homes at 2016 and 2017 prices, expecting to get the same amount of money their neighbour did two years ago, which isn’t realistic,” says Kaye Broens, VIREB’s president. “On the other hand, some buyers are questioning the fair market value of a home they’re interested in and choosing not to purchase, which is counterproductive.”

The benchmark price of a single-family home on the rest of the Island was $517,800 in April, a five per cent increase from one year ago; the benchmark price of a condo climbed to $325,900, an eight per cent increase from April 2018, and townhouses hit $429,700 last month, up 10 per cent over last year.

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