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Real estate sales drop, home prices inch higher

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The weather isn’t the only thing that’s on the cool side these days.

Sales of single-family homes across Vancouver Island in January dropped by 16 per cent from one year ago and were 26 per cent lower than in December. 

Last month, 174 single-family homes sold on the MLS system compared to 235 in December and 208 one year ago. 

Apartment sales in January are down three per cent year over year, while the number of townhouses sold dropped by 18 per cent from one year ago.

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Vancouver Island Real Estate Board president, Kevin Reid, said one of the reasons behind the slumping sales is the usual seasonal doldrums.

“Often between December and January, real estate sales are at their lowest number of units during the year.” 

Reid added that there are other factors at play, including a lack of supply and tighter mortgage rules.

“We still have this reduced inventory,” he said. “We have predicted long-term low-interest rates so buyers are ready to buy. They are being affected by the (tighter) mortgage rules somewhat but we have these two at-odds factors of low inventory, yet buyers are ready to go, so it’s keeping the prices up.” 

Cooling sales have only slightly slowed down the rise in prices.

The benchmark price of a single-family home board-wide was $515,400 in January, a four per cent increase from one year ago and marginally lower than in December. (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 five per cent, hitting $309,300, which is two per cent higher than in December.

The benchmark price of a townhouse last month rose by three per cent year over year, climbing to $408,600, and was virtually the same as in December. 

Regionally, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area last month was $437,300, an increase of four per cent over last year. 

In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price reached $521,900, which is also up four per cent from a year ago. 

Meanwhile, apartment prices continue to inch up in Campbell River and the Comox Valley. 

In Campbell River, the benchmark price for an apartment sits at $276,500 compared to $249,700 a year ago.

The average price for an apartment in the valley was $334,000 last month. A year ago, it was $296,500.

Townhouses also went up in value. 

In Campbell River, the benchmark price was $338,600 last month compared to $328,500 the previous January.

A townhouse in the valley went for, on average, $436,300 last month. A year ago, that number was $425,500.

Sales of single-family homes also dropped considerably in both markets last month. In Campbell River, 14 houses changed hands compared to 26 in December and 24 last January.

In the Comox Valley, 29 houses sold in January compared to 38 in December and 43 in January 2019.

Moving forward, Reid predicts the market to warm up along with the weather.

“We always do the most volume in real estate in March, April, May through to August,” Reid said. “We’re only going to see the number of unit sales go up right until the summertime and we’ll probably see the prices slowly escalate, as well.”

He added that Vancouver Island remains attractive to buyers from the mainland and beyond.

“When you look at the average single-family home over the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board area is only $515,000, if you compare that to the Fraser Valley board or even the Victoria board where the average pricing is up around the $700,000 mark,” Reid said. “It makes our market from Duncan all the way through to Campbell River look very attractive.”

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