Capital house sales dip, sign of low inventory; benchmark price up

Fewer Greater Victoria houses were sold in June than in May, but it was a sign of tight inventory rather than a cooling of demand, the Victoria Real Estate Board said Monday in its monthly report.

The number of sales, at 1,174, was down nine per cent in June versus May, likely because so few houses were available for sale, said real estate board president Mike Nugent.

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The issue of housing inventory and having options after selling a home has affected a number of people, Nugent said.

“You want to know you’ve got something. You don’t want to be shut out of the market,” he said.

“I actually have heard a couple of people say ‘We sold so we’d be ready with cash in our jeans and now we can’t find anything.’ That’s not a good feeling.”

A lot of the available inventory has simply been snapped up, Nugent said.

“To a certain degree what’s help to feed a lot of this is we’ve had a lot of new product built, particularly in the West Shore. So you’ve got Bear Mountain, Happy Valley, Westhills, Sooke. They’re all building like crazy, but now we’re out of the inventory they had.”

He said that despite the current situation, properties occasionally remain unsold, sometimes when owners try to test the limits of the asking price in a hot market.

Inventory at the end of June stood at 2,289 active listings, down 42.8 per cent from 4,003 at the end of June 2015.

“Everybody is saying if there was just some inventory — there’s lots of buyers,” Nugent said.

The dip in June sales after could also be part of an annual pattern, he said. “Often April, May are our peak months and it starts to back off just a touch through the summer. There’s nothing really unusual about that.”

With the year at its halfway point, sales are well above the pace of 2015. Nugent said there were 6,181 sales through the end of June 2016, versus 4,282 in the same period last year.

“They’re up nearly 30 per cent from a year ago,” Nugent said.

If real-estate sales continue at their current rate, the total number of transactions for all of last year — 8,295 — could be reached by the end of August, Nugent said.

“Our 10-year average is sort of more in the 7,500-per-year range, and we could hit 11,000 [for 2016] if we kept going at the same pace. We’ve had a lot of months where we’ve been a 40-per-cent increase.”

The record for a year is 9,241 sales in 1991.

The benchmark selling price for a Greater Victoria home in the core area (Victoria, Oak Bay, Saanich, Esquimalt and View Royal) — a figure calculated by the Victoria Real Estate Board based on what it considers to be a typical dwelling — rose to $724,900 in June from $706,500 in May.

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