Prices nudge up amid strong demand in Victoria real estate market

Last month’s real estate sales set a another record for the average selling price for a single-family home in Greater Victoria as rising sales of luxury homes, demand for single-family houses, low interest rates and tight supply combined to fuel the market.

July’s average price for a single-family house moved to $1.033 million from the previous record of $1.014 million in June, said the Victoria Real Estate Board.

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Multiple bids are coming in for desirable properties despite worldwide uncertainty about the implications of the pandemic.

Justin Cownden, real estate agent with Pemberton Holmes Real Estate, said a client decided not to make an offer on a Shawnigan Lake house last month because 10 offers had already been submitted. The successful bid came in above asking price with no conditions.

Cownden is seeing a “lot of activity,” in all levels of the market as it rebounds after cooling during the first months of the pandemic.

Similar to last month, sales of $2-million-plus properties in the capital region climbed. High-end sales skew the average price.

In July a total of 30 single-family-homes sold for more than $2 million and of those, four went for more than $4 million. In July of last year, there were nine single-family sales of more than $2 million, the board said Wednesday.

As well, five condominiums sold for more than $1 million.

In June, 23 single-family houses sold for more than $2 million.

Developer Stan Sipos earlier sold 80 per cent of the 57 units in his Customs House luxury condominium project overlooking Victoria Harbour and expects to release the remaining units for sale in the fall. Those will probably be priced at $1.8 million to $6 million. The penthouse sold for $11 million.

“We are getting lots of calls. Lots of interest from all over the place,” including the U.S., Sipos said.

Victoria is appealing because it is quiet, offers a good lifestyle and has fared well during the global crisis, he said.

Sipos has heard of multiple offers for Oak Bay properties and of two sales which took place over video applications without the buyer being present.

Real estate board president Sandi-Jo Ayers said sales numbers in the capital region were unusually high for June and July.

“But we are not in a typical season. We cannot derive an ongoing trend nor forecast by looking at activity because we know the market is subjected to unusual factors amidst a health crisis.”

It is likely that spring demand moved into the summer, she said.

“Time will tell if these factors are resulting in a very compressed cycle of activity or if this trend will persist in the fall.”

The benchmark value for a single-family house in the core area was $910,400 last month, up from $861,100 in the same month a year ago.

A benchmark represents changes in value for a typical home in a specific area, a measure which real estate boards say is more representative than an average price. The core area is made up of Victoria, Saanich, Esquimalt, Oak Bay, and View Royal.

A long-term, low supply of properties for sale is continuing in this area, Ayers said.

“Though we had a good number of new listings come to market this month, many of those listings were snapped up by buyers.

By the end of July, there were 2,653 active listings — 10 per cent fewer properties than in July 2019.

“Right now we have a lot of demand for single-family homes without the numbers to meet demand — prospective buyers are often entering into multiple offer, competitive situations or are unable to find appropriate properties,” Ayers said.

For the area north of the Malahat, Vancouver Island Real Estate Board president Kevin Reid also noted interest in single-family homes.

“An interesting development we’re noting is that there seems to be more demand for single-family homes and less interest in condominiums and townhouses at the moment.

“It makes us wonder whether quarantine and lockdown have instilled a desire for more space among buyers.”

A total of 892 units sold last month, a four per cent decline from July of last year.

The benchmark price of a single-family home board-wide was $545,700 in July, an increase of six per cent from the previous year.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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