No rest in November for real estate market

It might not feel like spring, but the Greater Victoria real estate market is sure acting like it, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Victoria Real Estate Board.

The region recorded 795 property sales last month, and while that is 195 fewer than October of this year, it is close to the record for the month of November, which was 892 sales recorded in 1989.

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“Once again, we’ve tracked an unexpectedly busy month for the Victoria area real estate market,” said board president Sandi-Jo Ayers.

The market has been busy for a while now, as the region flirted with 1,000 sales each month from July through October, suggesting the usually busy spring market – March through June – was delayed until July this year.

“Obviously, we lost a couple of months in the spring,” said Ayers, noting the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the market in April and parts of May and might be the cause of the pent-up demand that has fuelled recent sales figures.

Ayers also noted the market has benefited from historically low interest rates.

“The pandemic may have pushed people’s plans ahead a little faster,” she said, noting those who had been considering retiring or moving up or down in the market might have decided to take advantage of the low-interest environment.

Last month, 361 single-family homes changed hands, down from the 474 that were sold in October, while 262 condos sold, down from 304 in October.

GRAPHIC - Real estate stats, November 2020

While sales numbers dropped, prices didn’t.

Last month the benchmark price of a single-family home in the region increased to $813,700 from $752,300 in November last year and $795,200 in October this year. Condo prices also increased to $508,400 last month, from $505,500 last year and $504,500 in October 2019.

“We have low inventory and have for a number of years and that puts pressure on pricing,” said Ayers.

There were 1,813 active listings for sale at the end of November, 24.4 per cent fewer than were available at the same time last year.

Ayers said inventory below 2,000 at this time of year is a significant marker, as the region tends to see numbers that low only by the end of the year.

The result of the drop in inventory has led to a significant increase in the number of homes receiving multiple offers and a significant number of properties selling for more than their asking price.

“We have seen that in the last nine months – properties coming to market and within five days they often get multiple offers,” said Ayers. “That tells us inventory is low and properties in desirable areas and priced well get attention from buyers.”

As for what’s to come for real estate in this region, Ayers said it could be more of the same.

“The fact is, the market has outperformed anyone’s expectations in the midst of this pandemic. There is a chance we will see a slow levelling of activity over the winter – which is what we would expect seasonally. However, because of our consistently low inventory, pressure on pricing and multiple-offer situations will likely continue as we remain in a demand-heavy environment,” she said.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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