Strong local demand, lack of options, push up Greater Victoria housing prices

Continued high demand and a dearth of buying options continues to drive the price of single-family homes in Greater Victoria, according to numbers released Monday by the Victoria Real Estate Board.

The benchmark price of a single-family home in the region rose in January to $839,800, up from $828,400 in December and well over the $758,000 mark set in January 2020.

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At the same time, the average selling price of a single-family home in Greater Victoria topped $1.22 million in January, up from $953,190 in January 2020.

The benchmark price represents changes in value for a typical home in a specific area, a measure which real estate boards say is more representative of the market than an ­average price.

“Our bustling market continues to be fueled by strong consumer demand to own a home in Greater Victoria, driven in part by low interest rates and by the overall desirability of our larger community,” said board president David Langlois. “This continuing demand, coupled with our record low inventory, has resulted in competition for desirable properties.

“The competition for sparse inventory has pushed both pricing and activity up and has created the very fast-paced market that we’ve been experiencing for the past several months.”

Langlois said a suite of factors ranging from historically low interest rates, people moving up their retirement plans, renters wanting to own because of the low cost of borrowed money all the way to people just getting excited about real estate have contributed to fueling the pace of the market.

“All the potential demand factors we could have in a position to drive demand are going full-steam ahead,” he said.

Last month 646 properties changed hands in Greater Victoria up from the 631 in December and 57 per cent more than in January of last year when there were 411.

Langlois also noted the higher end of the market has been doing brisk business; last month there were 25 sales of homes worth more than $2 million

Home-grown sales are driving the market, according to the board. Of 8,224 sales in 2020, 90.9 per cent involved buyers already living in B.C., with the vast majority, 73.43 per cent, coming from within Greater Victoria.

Those numbers are very close to the sales percentages in 2019, when 90.7 per cent of 7,218 sales were to buyers from B.C. and 74 per cent were from Victoria.

There was an increase in activity from the Lower ­Mainland last year with just over 9.4 per cent of buyers coming from that region, compared with 7.7 per cent in 2019. Last year 2.6 per cent of all buyers were from other parts of the province’s mainland, about the same percentage as in the year previous.

And while many of Victoria’s real estate agents have said they have been working with buyers from across Canada over the last year, less than eight per cent of all sales were to buyers living in other provinces.

Alberta provided the single largest number of out-of-province buyers last year with 2.9 per cent, while Ontario and Quebec combined for 3.8 per cent of all sales.

In 2019, Alberta buyers were responsible for 3.05 per cent of all sales and 3.55 per cent came from Ontario and Quebec.

Only 1.2 per cent of all sales (99) in the region last year were to buyers residing outside of Canada, a drop from the 1.5 per cent (109) sales in 2019.

The U.S. accounted for 74 sales last year or 0.9 per cent of all sales, while there were 63 sales to American buyers in 2019.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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