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July home sales drop for fifth straight month

Early Vancouver data shows sales down 17 per cent from June but low inventory may keep prices firm, analysts say
"Tepid" price drop expected if current trends persist. | Glacier Media files

Early July data shows that housing sales are down across Greater Vancouver for the fifth straight month, but a corresponding drop in new listings may keep price corrections in check.

“Where have all the sellers gone?,” asked Kevin Skipworth, a partner in Dexter and Associates Realty of Vancouver, in noting that active listings had dropped 27 per cent as of mid-July from the same point a month earlier.

As of July 15, 2,491 new listings had been added to Multiple Listing Service of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, as compared to 3,405 as of June 15 and 3,758  in mid-May.

Total housing sales as of mid-July tallied 1,692 transactions, down 17 per cent from the 2,042 properties at the same time in June and 2,182 as of mid-May.

The lack of listings could signal a return to the “ultra-competitive market” seen earlier this year, Skipworth noted, with multiple buyers presenting bids to secure a home.

If the current trend continues, “we could see total active listings drop below 10,000 to start September for only the second time in the last 25 years,” Skipworth said.

Other analysts say an expected bounce back in new listings and resistance to skyrocketing prices will keep house prices in check.

Noting that Greater Vancouver detached-house prices had hit an all-time high average of $1.9 million in June, Dane Eitel of Eitel Insights does not expect much of a price correction in the face of slower sales.

Eitel anticipates a “tepid 8 per cent to 10 per cent correction” of prices in the bellwether detached house market.

 “That implies values to peak around the $2 million barrier and then backtrack to $1.83 million, the previous market peak,” he said, which was seen in May 2021.

Eitel said that the trend over several years has been for active listing to reach their highest annual level in August and September, suggesting the greater supply would also dampen expectations of a further price hike in the autumn.

Both Skipworth and Steve Saretsky a Vancouver realtor who publishes the online Saretsky Report on the housing market, agreed that townhouses are now the most sought-after listing on the market.

“The townhouse market in Greater Vancouver is officially the strongest segment,” Starksy said. “With many people getting priced out of single -family homes, townhouses have become the next best thing. Inventory is incredibly tight at just 1.9 months of supply available. The typical townhouse has increased by $140,200 over the past 12 months.”