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Housing starts, real estate prices rise in valley

Real estate prices and housing starts are on the upswing in the Comox Valley.

This is according to the Business Counts report from Invest Comox Valley.

The report shows that year-to-date housing starts have jumped 21.5 percent.

Fueling housing starts is a rise in condo construction activity, which jumped 230 percent year to date.

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Sticking with housing, it’s getting more expensive to buy real estate in the valley.

The average price for a single family home in the valley is $579,655, marking a 6.4 percent jump year over year. 

Apartments are also pricier, averaging out to $290,987. This signifies a 7.8 percent jump compared to the first eight months of 2018.

Business Counts reports year-to-date statistics. (Supplied by Invest Comox Valley)

And while real estate is getting more expensive, the market cooled in the first half of 2019.

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Year to date, sales of single family homes in the valley dropped 16.3 percent compared to the same period last year.

Apartment sales dropped 20.2 percent year to date.

Vancouver Island Real Estate Board president-elect Kevin Reid said contrary to the stats, August was a strong month for local real estate.

“We actually had increased sales and slight price increases across the whole Vancouver Island and specifically here for the Comox Valley,” Reid said. 

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Reid said buyers continue to come to the valley from the Lower Mainland and Ontario, but the number has tailed off from a year-and-a-half ago.

He also noted that the tighter mortgage rules, including the stress test continues to impact buyers.

“It’s harder for people to qualify for financing, they’re qualifying for less financing, and in an era of increasing real estate values it makes it hard to purchase.”

As for rising prices, Reid said it’s hard to predict just how much it will go up over the next few months.

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“Historically, real estate always goes up but we do go through periods of adjustment,” he said. “I believe right now we’re in one of those adjustment periods. Usually what happens in the adjustment period is pricing kind of stays the same, but more properties come on the market so the buyers have the better selection and you find that sellers have to compete a little more aggressively, so dropping their prices, negotiating with buyers, things like that.”

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