Metro Vancouver residential sales see coolest July in 18 years

Hot weather, cool real estate market – but what about prices? It depends on the neighbourhood

Glacier Media Real Estate
August 2, 2018

house for sale sign

July may have been scorching in terms of the weather, but the residential real estate market was decidedly cool, according to the latest report from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).

Metro Vancouver saw the lowest number of July home sales since July 2000, with 2,070 homes trading hands on the Multiple Listings Service. That’s a 30.1 per cent drop compared with July 2017, and a decrease of 14.6 per cent in a single month since June 2018.

That total is also a whopping 29.3 per cent below the 10-year July sales average.

However, the REBGV president pointed out that the month-over-month decline is standard, as July always sees slower home sales. “Summer is traditionally a quieter time of year in real estate. This is particularly true this year,” said Phil Moore. “With increased mortgage rates and stricter lending requirements, buyers and sellers are opting to take a wait-and-see approach for the time being.”

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The market was also affected by a lack of inventory, with fewer new home listings as sellers adopted that “wait-and-see approach.” There were 4,770 homes newly listed for sale on the MLS in July, a 9.2 per cent year-over-year decline and a 9.6 per cent decrease compared with June 2018.

However, the sluggish absorption of new and existing inventory meant that July saw a year-over-year jump in total listings by the end of the month. The 12,137 homes available as of the end of July is a 32 per cent increase compared with the same month last year.

This puts the region firmly into overall balanced-market territory with a sales-to-listings ratio of 17.1 per cent. However, by property type, the ratio is a strong buyer’s market at 9.9 per cent for detached homes, creeping towards a balanced market at 20.2 per cent for townhomes, and still a seller’s market at 27.3 per cent for condos.

So what does all this cooling do for home prices?

It seems price growth has finally stalled and even slightly reversed, depending on your area. The overall benchmark price – all home types across the region – now stands at $1,087,500. This is a 6.7 per cent year-over-year increase over July 2017 but a small decline of 0.6 per cent compared with June this year.

However, breaking sales and prices down by property type and neighbourhood, as ever, reveals wide variations.

Moore added, “With fewer buyers active in today’s market, we’re seeing less upward pressure on home prices across the region. This is most pronounced in the detached home market, but demand in the townhome and apartment markets is also relenting from the more frenetic pace experienced over the last few years.”

Sales and prices by property type

A total of 637 detached Metro Vancouver homes traded on the MLS in July, a drop of 32.9 per cent year over year and a slide of 16.8 per cent since June this year.

Single-family home prices fell across the region, with the benchmark price now at $1,588,400. This is 1.5 per cent decrease from July 2017 and a 0.6 per cent slip compared with June.

However, detached home prices on Bowen Island are up 11.5 per cent over one year ago, and up 10.3 per cent on the Sunshine Coast and in Maple Ridge. This compares with annual price declines of 8.4 per cent for Vancouver West’s detached homes, and 8.3 per cent in West Vancouver.

Sales of attached homes such as duplexes, townhomes and row homes fell even further, dropping 34.8 per cent year over year to 543 sales in July. However, this was an improvement on the dismal 419 attached sales in June this year.

Typical townhome prices across the region were still 12.1 per cent higher than this time last year, with the benchmark price of an attached unit now at $856,000 – a small slip of 0.4 per cent compared with June 2018. Vancouver East saw the weakest annual price growth in this home type at 4.4 per cent, whereas Whistler townhomes are 34.9 per cent more expensive than a year ago, followed by Squamish, up 30.6 per cent.

Greater Vancouver condo sales totalled 1,079 in July 2018, which is 26.5 per cent lower than the 1,468 sales in July 2017 and down nearly 13 per cent month over month.

With the strongest price growth over the past year, the benchmark price of an apartment property is $700,500, 13.6 per cent up from July 2017, although a 0.5 per cent decline compared with June 2018. By area, annual condo price rises range from 36.9 per cent in Maple Ridge and 33.7 per cent in Pitt Meadows to a low of 6.6 per cent in Vancouver West.

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.

Joannah Connolly is editorial director of Glacier Media Real Estate, Glacier Media's real estate division. Joannah writes and curates real estate news for Glacier Media's local newspaper websites, including the Vancouver Courier, Times Colonist, Prince George Citizen, North Shore News, Burnaby Now, Tri-City News and others. She also writes and oversees editorial content in Real Estate Weekly Homes, West Coast Condos & Homes, Western Investor and Glacier's special real estate publications. A dual Canadian-British citizen, Joannah has 23 years of journalism and editing experience in Vancouver and London, with a background in construction, architecture, healthcare and business media. Joannah has appeared on major local TV outlets as a real estate commentator, has moderated and spoken on various industry panels, and spent two years hosting the Real Estate Therapist talk radio show on Vancouver's Roundhouse Radio.
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