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Coolest April for Metro Vancouver home sales in 17 years

Metro Vancouver home sales saw the coolest April for 17 years, with the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) admitting that “market conditions are changing.
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Metro Vancouver home sales saw the coolest April for 17 years, with the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) admitting that “market conditions are changing.”

There were 2,579 home sales on the Multiple Listing Service® in April, according to REBGV statistics released May 2. This is a 27.4 per cent drop from the 3,553 sales in April last year, and the lowest since 2001. 

However, April’s transactions are a slight improvement over the previous month, rising 2.5 per cent over March 2018 when 2,517 homes exchanged hands.

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“Market conditions are changing. Home sales declined in our region last month to a 17-year April low and home sellers have become more active than we’ve seen in the past three years,” said Phil Moore, REBGV president. “The mortgage requirements that the federal government implemented this year have, among other factors, diminished home buyers’ purchasing power and they’re being felt on the buyer side today.”

There was also a flurry of new listings, with sellers moving on the spring market and perhaps motivated by uncertainty over the market’s future. Some 5,820 homes were newly listing on the MLS, an 18.6 per cent increase compared with new listings in April 2017 and a whopping 30.8 per cent increase over March 2018, when 4,450 homes were listed.

That takes total number of properties currently listed on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver to 9,822 as of the end of April, up 25.7 per cent increase over April 2017 and a 17.2 per cent increase since March 2018.

“Home buyers have more breathing room this spring. They have more selection to choose from and less demand to compete against,” added Moore.

However, those expecting the increased supply and slowing sales will result in lower prices must think again. The composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $1,092,000, which is a 14.3 per cent increase over April 2017 and a 0.7 per cent increase over March 2018. These annual gains were even higher in the Tri-Cities, rising 18.5 per cent in Coquitlam, 22.2 per cent in Port Coquitlam and 20.7 per cent in Port Moody.

Part of the reason for the Metro-wide price increase is that even though inventory is increasing and sales are slowing, the supply has not yet risen enough to match demand. The region's sales-to-active listings ratio for April 2018 is 26.3 per cent, which indicates a continued sellers’ market overall. However, this looks very different when broken into different property types.

By property type, the ratio is 14.1 per cent for detached homes (a balanced market, which is deemed in the range of 12 to 20 per cent), 36.1 per cent for townhomes and 46.7 per cent for condominiums (both strong seller’s markets).

Sales and prices by property type

Detached homes once again saw the biggest annual sales slide. At 807 transactions, this market saw a 33.4 per cent decrease from the 1,211 detached sales in April 2017.

The benchmark price for a typical single-family home in Metro Vancouver is $1,605,800, which is a 5.1 per cent increase from April 2017 but a 0.2 per cent drop compared with March 2018. However, this varies wildly by city and neighbourhood within the board’s jurisdiction. None of the Tri-Cities' single-detached markets saw a monthly price decline, and all three had higher annual price rises than Metro overall.

Sales of attached properties such as townhomes, row homes and duplexes fell 25.2 per cent year over year in April to 464 units, which is slightly higher than the previous month’s 446 sales. The benchmark price of an attached unit is now $854,200, which is 17.7 per cent increase from April 2017 and 2.3 per cent higher than March 2018. All of REBGV’s 17 areas posted both annual and monthly price increases for this sought-after property type.

Condo sales in Metro Vancouver totalled 1,308 last month, a 24 per cent drop from the 1,722 sales in April 2017, and 41 units fewer than in March this year.

A typical Metro Vancouver condo is now pegged at a price of $701,000. This is a 23.7 per cent increase from April 2017 and a 1.1 per cent rise over March 2018. All 17 areas posted significant annual price increases, with the steepest in Maple Ridge, where typical condo prices are over 50 per cent higher than this time last year. The Tri-Cities' three condo markets all saw typical units priced at more than 30 per cent higher than a year ago.

Home prices vary widely in different areas throughout the region. To get a good idea of home prices in a specific location and by property type, check the detailed MLS® Home Price Index in the full REBGV statistics package.