Outlier housing markets most active in B.C.

Home sales and prices rising faster in the Okanagan, Island than in Greater Vancouver, which some see as a pandemic reaction

Western Investor
July 14, 2020

Powell River house under $400,000
— Powell River 3-bedroom house listed at $399,000. | Royal LePage

Seventy per cent of the B.C. residential properties sold in June were transacted outside of Greater Vancouver as smaller centres in the province continued to post some big numbers.

During the month, housing sales in Greater Vancouver increased 19 per cent compared to June of 2019,  but they soared 30 per cent in Chilliwack, 28 per cent in the South Okanagan and by 18.5 per cent on Vancouver Island in the same period, reports the BC Real Estate Association (BCREA).

While the composite average home price in Greater Vancouver increased 7 per cent in June compared to June 2019, average prices were up 23.6 per cent in towns like Osoyoos and Princeton, up 14.4 per cent in Victoria, and were 10 per cent higher in Kelowna and Kamloops.

Some realtors in outlier markets believe the pandemic has persuaded more city dwellers to consider living and working from home in smaller towns and rural locations.

“The bottom line is, for some, what used to be appealing about living in the city –  its crowds, culture and public events – no longer count as pros but as cons,” said Freddie Marks, an agent with 3A Group, Sutton Showplace Realty in Agassiz, who specializes in rural property.

Price plays a factor as well.  The average detached sells for approximately $1 million in Metro Vancouver, compared to less than $500,000 in most towns outside of the Lower Mainland. In Powell River, a coastal community four hours from Vancouver, buyers can find detached houses for less than $400,000.

The BCREA reports that a total of 8,166 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service in June 2020, an increase of 16.9 per cent from June 2019.

The average residential price in BC was $748,155 in June, a 9.1 per cent increase from $685,968 recorded the previous year. Total sales dollar volume in June reached $6.1 billion, a 27.5 per cent increase over 2019.

 “Sales around the province surged back to pre-COVID-19 levels in June,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. Total active listings are still down close to 20 per cent year-over-year and, as a result, many markets are seeing upward pressure on prices, he noted.

Year-to-date as of July 1, B.C. residential sales dollar volume was up 0.6 per cent to $24.7 billion, compared with the same period in 2019. Housing sales were down 8 per cent to 32,875 units, while the average residential price was up 9.4 per cent to $751,722.

Frank O'Brien is the editor of Western Canada's biggest commercial real estate newspaper, Western Investor, as well as a contributing editor at West Coast Condominium, real estate contributor to Business in Vancouver and a regular media commentator on real estate investment.
Copyright © Western Investor

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