Is B.C.’s real estate pendulum starting to swing back to a more balanced market?
At 8,203 units, home sales across the province in April were 10 per cent higher than March’s total, according to British Columbia Real Estate Association data released May 14. That’s nearly 17 per cent lower than April last year, although a marked improvement over March’s reported 24.6 per cent annual decline.
The number of available B.C. homes for sale remains low compared with historical averages, but in April the total inventory rose four per cent over March and nearly nine per cent year over year. The province is still overall in a seller’s market, with a sales-to-listings ratio of 28.4 per cent, but that figure is lower than it has been for many months, suggesting a slow creep towards a more balanced market (between 12 and 20 per cent).
This improvement in supply seems to be borne out by a flattening in the upward trajectory of B.C.’s average resale price, which in April stood just 0.2 per cent higher than one year ago, at $730,507 – around $4,000 higher than in March this year.
The BCREA said, “Most regions of the province have begun trending toward more balance between supply and demand, causing less upward pressure on home prices.”
However, BCREA’s chief economist Cameron Muir does not expect the market to drop dramatically. He said, “The impact of more burdensome mortgage qualifications for conventional borrowers is expected to soften over the next several months, as potential buyers adjust both their finances and expectations.”
Variations by region
As ever, these B.C.-wide headline figures smooth out huge variations between different regions across the province.
Victoria is still in a hot seller’s market with a 50 per cent sales-to-listings ratio. The capital region's home sales fell 12.6 per cent year over year in April, which although a marked slowdown is not as steep a decline as in the Lower Mainland or B.C.’s average. The average sale price in Victoria rose nearly 12 per cent year over year to $703,592. Vancouver Island saw a similar average price increase at 11.3 per cent, and now has a sales-to-listings ratio of 38.5 per cent.
The biggest annual price increase was seen in the much-smaller market of Powell River, where average resale prices are up nearly 16 per cent from last year. This is closely followed by Chilliwack, up 15.8 per cent.
Although most boards reported year-over-year sales decreases, Kootenay was B.C.’s only real estate board to post an annual decline in average prices, at 4.7 per cent lower than a year ago.
To get a more complete regional breakdown of the market stats, here’s the full BCREA April 2018 report.