COMOX VALLEY, B.C. – Even as sales dipped in recent weeks, prices for real estate continue to inch up in the Comox Valley, according to statistics released today (Wednesday) by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB).

In June, 444 single-family Vancouver Island homes sold on the Multiple Listing Service system.

This marks a noticeable drop compared to the 518 homes that changed hands in May and 617 one year ago.

The number of apartments changing hands last month dropped by 21 per cent, but in the townhouse category, sales increased by 26 per cent.

The drop in sales in the first half of 2018 can be attributed to stricter mortgage qualifications for conventional borrowers, along with rising interest rates taking their toll on household purchasing power and affordability.

It is unclear whether the June slowdown is reflective of seasonal summer market conditions or if demand-side policy changes are finally beginning to play a larger role in the VIREB’s housing market.

In the meantime, homes continue to inch up in price in the Comox Valley.

The benchmark price for a single family home in the region was $510,700 in June (benchmark pricing tracks the value of a typical home in the reported area).

That’s up $10,200 from May and a significant jump from June 2017, when the benchmark price for a home was $436,500.

Just five years ago, the benchmark price for a single family home in the Comox Valley was $314,600.

And last month in Campbell River, the benchmark price for a single family house was $425,800, up $8,300 from May and $77,300 more expensive than the year previous (average of $348,500 in June 2017).

The market for townhouses in the Comox Valley also saw a price uptick, with a benchmark of $394,200 compared to $388,100 in May. That’s a slow rise from this time a year ago, when the average price for a townhouse in the Comox Valley was $359,800.

Campbell River townhouse prices in June jumped to $289,300 from $282,600 in May. Last June, buying a townhouse in Campbell River would set you back, on average, $266,700.

Finally, the benchmark price of apartments in the Comox Valley and Campbell River dropped from last month.

In Comox Valley in June, apartments averaged out to $349,200 compared to $357,100 in May.

And in Campbell River, prices dropped to $295,500, down from May ($303,500).

The benchmark price of a single-family home in the VIREB area reached $510,300 in June, a 15 per cent increase from one year ago.

Competition for homes – especially in the $300,000 to $500,000 range – is still modus operandi in the VIREB area, with multiple offers a commonplace occurrence on properties in that price range.

Despite buyer demand, however, homes at most price points still need to be reasonably priced.

“For sellers, properly pricing your home remains an important factor,” VIREB president Don McClintock said in a release. “Buyers are savvy, and overpriced homes take longer to sell.”

The sales dip is reflective of the economy moderating after seeing year over year growth from 2014, notes the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA).

In its 2018 Second-Quarter Housing Forecast, the BCREA anticipates that MLS residential sales in the province will decline by nine per cent to 94,200 units this year from 103,700 in 2017.

“B.C. housing markets have benefited from the provincial economy expanding well above trend growth over the past four years,” says BCREA chief economist Cameron Muir. “However, economic growth is expected to slow and reflect the long-term average this year.”