Fewer homes for sale is putting a dent in Vancouver Island’s real estate market.

Inventory of single-family homes last month was virtually the same as in December 2018 (937 to 934) but dipped by 19 per cent from November. 

Active listings of apartments rose by 10 per cent (270 to 298) year over year while townhouse inventory dropped by 35 per cent (148 to 96). 

“Lack of inventory is certainly curtailing some buyers from moving ahead with their home purchase, so if you’re thinking of selling your home, now is a good time to list,” said Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) past president Kaye Broens. 

It was a mixed bag in terms of sales.

Sales of single-family homes, island-wide, in December increased by 40 per cent from one year ago and were 24 per cent lower than in November. 

Last month, 237 single-family homes sold on the Multiple Listing Service System compared to 312 in November and 169 one year ago. 

Apartment sales in December rose by 68 per cent year over year, while the number of townhouses sold dropped by 20 per cent from December 2018. 

Annual sales of single-family homes in 2019 totalled 4,119, a nine per cent drop from 2018’s 4,539 sales.

The benchmark price of a single-family home board-wide was $518,000 in December, a five per cent increase from one year ago and marginally higher than in November. (Benchmark pricing tracks the value of a typical home in the reported area.) 

In the apartment category, the year-over-year benchmark price rose by four per cent, hitting $304,600, which was three per cent higher than in November. 

The benchmark price of a townhouse last month rose by two per cent year over year and was slightly higher than in November, climbing to $408,500. 

Regionally, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area last month was $423,900, an increase of two per cent over December 2018. 

In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price reached $528,600, up by four per cent from one year ago. 

Trend-wise, Vancouver Island’s housing market is balanced in most areas and inching towards a buyers’ market in a few zones. 

Overall, however, home sales and listing activity are at typical levels for the region. 

Realtors across the island are reporting that there is interest among buyers, but many are taking a wait-and-see approach. 

Broens also adds that the recent release of home assessments tends to create confusion for consumers, who are not always aware that the assessed figure is based on data that is several months old and may not reflect current market value.