Homes for sale on Vancouver Island are few and far between these days.

The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board is reporting its lowest inventory on record, and the homes that are on the market, aren’t on there for long.

Active listings of single-family detached properties (excluding acreage and waterfront) dropped to 394 in February, down six percent from January. 

There were 169 condo apartments for sale last month compared to 212 in January, a drop of 20 percent. 

Month-over-month townhouse inventory decreased slightly, with 91 units for sale in February compared to 95 the previous month.

Last month, 417 single-family detached properties sold on the MLS System, marking a year-over-year increase of 56 percent. 

In the condo apartment category, sales rose by 132 percent year over year (56 to 130), while row/townhouse sales increased by 42 percent (57 to 81).

Board president Ian Mackay says low inventory continues to dampen sales and frustrate buyers. The demand is there, but there are not enough listings to satisfy it.

“The federal and provincial governments tend to focus on demand-side policies instead of addressing the supply issue,” Mackay said. “Taxes and tighter mortgage restrictions are stopgap measures that don’t resolve the underlying problem.”

The B.C. Real Estate Association does not see the inventory situation improving until more supply comes online later in the year. 

BCREA and local real estate boards are advocating with policymakers at the provincial and regional levels to encourage streamlining the development process so that municipalities can expand supply more quickly to meet demand.

“The length of time it takes to get a development off the ground is a serious problem on Vancouver Island, which is becoming an increasingly popular destination for buyers of all ages,” says Mackay. “While our area has always attracted retirees, we’re seeing younger buyers more frequently than in the past.

Naturally, the robust housing market is impacting prices, which are rising across the island. 

The benchmark price of a single-family home hit $609,100 last month, 15 percent higher than in February 2020. 

The benchmark price of an apartment reached $325,000, an increase of nine percent, while the benchmark price of a townhouse rose by 15 percent year over year, climbing to $466,200.

In Campbell River, the benchmark price of a single-family home hit $547,700 in February, an increase of 18 percent over last year. 

In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price was $631,400, up by 15 percent from one year ago. 

Duncan reported a benchmark price of $572,900, an increase of 17 percent from February 2020. 

Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose by 12 percent, hitting $617,700, while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price increase by 13 percent to $695,600. 

The cost of a benchmark single-family home in Port Alberni reached $378,200, a 16 percent year-over-year increase. 

For the North Island, the benchmark price rose to $291,900, a 12 percent increase over last year.