Housing sales across northern B.C. were down 30 per cent through the first half of this year compared to 2019 – at one point hitting a 32-year-low – but the average price still increased 2 per cent to $329,364.
In all, 1,786 properties sold in the first six months, down from 2,298 in the same time in 2019. The number of homes listed for sale also declined due to COVID-19, which the president of the BC Northern Real Estate Board (BCNREB) credited for keeping prices firm.
At the end of June, there were 3,489 residential properties available for purchase through the BCNREB, down from 4,073 at the same time last year.
“The first half of 2020 saw a significant decline in housing demand in the region, with sales in April reaching a low not seen since January 1988,” said Shawna Kinsley.
Despite job losses in forestry, mining and the oil and gas sectors, plus cutbacks in retail and other services, Kinsley said the sales plunge in the second quarter was primarily due to the provincial state of emergency that implemented physical-distancing measures.
The total value of sold properties was $538.6 million, compared with $716.5 million in 2019.
In Prince George, the largest city in the north, 520 properties changed hands so far this year, down from 697 properties in the first six months of last year. The average detached house price in the city is just under $390,000.
Fort St. John, near the site of BC Hydro’s Site-C dam, and a pivot city for the Coastal GasLink liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline, 188 homes sold at an average price of $369,723. There are currently 669 homes for sale in the city.
Kitimat, the western export terminus for the LNG pipeline, saw 48 home sales through the first six months of 2020, down from 71 at the same time last year. Half of the 31 single-family homes sold this year transacted for less than $325,000 and, on average, it took 89 days for a home to sell. At the end of June there were 140 homes listed for sale in the Kitimat area.