August and September see record real estate sales, as spring market shifts to fall

Real estate apparently loves a pandemic, according to new numbers released Thursday by the Victoria Real Estate Board.

In Greater Victoria last month, 989 properties changed hands, a 60 per cent increase over September last year.

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In fact, the sales figures in August and September are ­better than for any other August and September on record.

“It feels like we’re having the spring market later in the fall this year, which makes sense, since we were basically shut down in the spring,” said Nicole Burgess, a veteran real estate agent at Pemberton ­Holmes. “The start of the spring market is usually in March and that’s when we were hit with the ­pandemic.”

Sales figures in April and May this year were the lowest for those two months in more than 15 years.

Sales through March, April and May were 900 below expectations, said David Langlois, president-elect of the real estate board. “And looking at the last three months, our expected sales numbers were over by more than 1,000. So, year-over-year we are roughly where we would have expected to be in terms of sales volume.”

Current board president Sandi-Jo Ayers said the surge in sales since June is likely the result of pent-up demand. “There’s no doubt that buyers are extremely motivated and this increased demand, coupled with limited inventory, fuelled the September market.”

Langlois said that there’s a sense that people have accepted the pandemic situation and are getting on with their lives, including buying real estate.

They did so in droves last month.

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Sales of single-family homes were up 91.9 per cent compared with September last year, with 539 sold. Condominiums sales were up 26.7 per cent from last year, with 280 units sold.

Last month’s sales figures were even ahead of numbers for August, when 979 properties changed hands.

Ayers said much-needed new inventory came on the market in September, but the supply has not been sufficient to outstrip heightened demand, resulting in multiple offers and upward pricing pressure in many ­neighbourhoods.

The benchmark price of a single-family home in the Victoria core (Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay, Esquimalt and View Royal) in September rose to $879,200, up 3.5 per cent from the same time last year.

The benchmark price for a condominium in the core slipped slightly to $510,600, down 0.4 per cent from the same time last year.

There were 2,389 active listings for sale at the end of September, 15.4 per cent fewer properties than the total available at the end of September 2019 and a 7.5 per cent decrease from the 2,584 active listings for sale at the end of August 2020.

As for what will happen next, that’s anyone’s guess, said ­Langlois — especially given the prospect of a second wave of the pandemic.

One thing won’t change, however: “Victoria and Vancouver Island are destinations where people want to buy homes and live.”

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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