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Ryan Berlin: Real estate listing rebound to create a more vibrant market

Good news for now, but turbulence may be ahead
real estate prices in the city of delta, bc canada
Real estate listings indicate a more active market for buyers and sellers in the Metro Vancouver market, Ryan Berlin writes.

Buyers and sellers both ramped up their participation in Metro Vancouver’s housing market in May, with sales and new listings reaching levels not seen in at least a year. 

As we’ve previously noted, home sales have been increasing in the Vancouver Region of late, with both March and April tallying more than 4,000 MLS sales following a historical dearth of activity over the preceding eight months. Notably, the recent upward trend in sales not only continued into May, but accelerated, with the total number of transactions last month surpassing the 5,000-mark for the first time since March 2022.

In the end, May’s sales count totalled 5,038, which was 20 per cent higher than April’s and compared to a more typical April-to-May bump of four per cent. And while May’s total was also 19 per cent higher than one year ago, it was still two per cent lower than the past 10-year average. This latter point is important context for the current sales pattern: despite sales counts having increased for four consecutive months, activity is only now just below what we would consider typical for this time of year.

In addition to more buyers participating in the housing market last month, more would-be sellers got in the game in May, too. To this point, there were 9,101 new listings posted in the Vancouver Region in May—a 39 per cent increase over April, and the most in any month going back to May of last year. Last month’s new listings were, however, still nine per cent lower than in May 2022, sitting at 0.5 per cent below the long-run May average.

With sales counts rising, this increase in new listings activity was the necessary condition for inventory to be able to expand. On this front, there were 13,268 homes available for purchase at the end of May, which was an 11 per cent increase from April (much more than the typical April-to-May rise of six per cent). Inventory still has a long way to go, however, for it remains 14 per cent below last year’s level, is 26 per cent below the past-10-year May average, and is the third-lowest May total ever (going back to 1990). 

To put a finer point on the inventory story, it is worth acknowledging that our region has experienced consistent and significant growth in people and housing over the past 30-plus years. With this in mind, and if we adjust current inventory for the size of the region’s population, the 4.56 listings per 1,000 residents last month was, in fact, the lowest on record.

With the Bank of Canada raising its policy rate by 25 basis points (to 4.75 per cent) on June 7 (accompanied by a surge in bond yields), and some economic turbulence in the form of a deteriorating labour market likely to be realized in the near-term, an element of uncertainty may be re-emerging for both buyers and sellers. In the months ahead, don’t be surprised if market conditions begin to favour buyers as we enter what is the typically less active summer season.

Ryan Berlin is vice president, Intelligence, and senior economist at Rennie.