News Stress test pressuring real estate market SHARE ON: Troy Landreville, staff Wednesday, Jul. 3rd, 2019 June was a mixed picture for real estate sales across Vancouver Island. (Rawpixel.com, Pexels.com) VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C. – Vancouver Island’s real estate market usually heats up at this time of year. So far, that has not been the case. The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board reports that sales of single-family homes in June dipped by seven percent year over year and were 11 percent lower than in May. As well, sales of apartments dropped by 29 percent year over year while townhouse sales fell 32 percent from a year ago. Locally, sales of single-family homes have held steady in Campbell River, the Comox Valley, and the Cowichan Valley. In Campbell River, 51 houses sold in June compared to 52 in May, and 56 in June 2018. In the Comox Valley, 71 houses changed hands in June, down slightly from May when 75 houses sold. Last June, 74 houses sold in the valley. In the Cowichan Valley, 85 houses sold in June, marking a healthy jump from the 63 deals made in May. In June 2018, 84 houses sold in Cowichan. Island-wide, however, the board says the mortgage stress test continues to hurt housing sales. It notes that even when prospective buyers can afford monthly mortgage payments, they are unable to qualify because the stress test has eroded their purchasing power by as much as 20 percent. Weak housing demand also comes into play. The inventory of single-family homes in June rose by 20 percent from one year ago (1,334 to 1,597). Active listings of apartments climbed by 14 percent (308 to 352) year over year while the townhouse inventory decreased by three percent (196 to 191). The board’s president-elect Kevin Reid says tighter mortgage rules are making things tougher for prospective homebuyers. “We have a very balanced market right now,” he said. “Still, the strongest effect is the mortgage rules restricting new buyers.” Reid said that while Lower Mainland has “had incredibly low numbers of sales reported for the spring of 2019,” the island continues to be an attractive place to put down stakes for people from all over Canada. “We still have this steady influx of new buyers coming to our area,” he said. Reid noted that the pendulum has shifted in the buyers’ favour, as prices level out and more homes go up for sale. “Prices are not out of control and if anything, there is considerable downward pressure on pricing in the $450,000 mark to (the) $850,000 mark. Buyers are holding back, looking for good value for (their) dollar, and really looking at their purchasing power quite seriously.” Meanwhile, even in a somewhat flat market, prices continue to rise. The benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area hit $434,900, an increase of four percent over June 2018. In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price reached $518,200, up by three per from one year ago. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $471,400, an increase of just under two percent from June 2018.