NORTHERN VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C. – It has become a buyers’ market across Vancouver Island.

And the Comox Valley and Campbell River is no exception.

But sellers can take some solace in the fact Vancouver Island’s real estate market hasn’t sunk to the depths of Metro Vancouver, where November’s sales were the lowest for the month since the Great Recession of 2008.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reported Tuesday that residential home sales dropped 42.5 per cent compared to November 2017.

Meanwhile, sales continue to slump across northeastern Vancouver Island.

In the Comox Valley, sales of single-family residential units sunk 23 percent in November, compared to November 2017.

There were 48 completed sales last month compared to 62 the previous November. Sales also dipped from October, when 53 homes changed hands.

In Campbell River, sales fell by a whopping 39 percent in November compared to a November 2017, from 49 deals a year ago to 30 last month.

The drop was particularly noticeable from October to November.

October was a strong month for real estate in Campbell River, with 47 unit sales.

The sales plunge didn’t stop prices from inching up, however.

The average price for a house in Campbell River last month was $437,939, up three percent from a year ago ($424,656).

But the price jump was much more substantial in the Comox Valley, where houses went for, on average, $525, 483, an increase of 17 percent from November 2017 ($517,500).

Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) Comox Valley director Kevin Reid from Royal LePage said November is a typically a slow time of the year for real estate sales.

And looking ahead to 2019, Reid says he sees stability, incremental price increases, and a balanced market going into the spring and summer months.

Reid said higher interest rates and stricter lending requirements will continue to challenge buyers: “We’ve had well qualified clients take much longer to qualify for a new mortgage, requiring much more information.”

Reid said many buyers are switching their focus from houses to townhouses in the Comox Valley.

“Townhouses are going through the roof,” he said. “The average price of a single detached home in Courtenay is… $535,000 right now, where you can buy a really nice townhouse for $400,000.”

Reid said there are four developments taking shape in the Comox Valley, “where you can buy brand-new, multi-floor townhouses for right around the $400,000 mark.”

Sinking Island

It’s been a rough go for real estate on the Vancouver Island.

Sales of single-family homes in November dropped by 28 per cent from one year ago and were 21 per cent lower than in October.

Last month, 305 single-family homes sold on the MLS compared to 384 in October and 426 one year ago.

Apartment and townhouse sales dipped by 14 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

Decreased demand and modest inventory increases is shifting the market from one favouring sellers to, as the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board calls it, “a balanced or near-balanced market.”

VIREB president Don McClintock said with the market shift, it’s important for sellers to realistically price their home.

“When fewer buyers are competing for a property, sellers need to be far more strategic,” McClintock said. “Overpriced homes take longer to sell, so it’s a good idea to consult a local realtor who can help determine the optimal price for your property.”