Greater Vancouver housing sales lowest in 18 years, condo prices finally dip: REBGV

July home sales drop in Metro Vancouver
Another sign that the Metro Vancouver real estate market has flattened, as home sales in July dropped to their lowest level in nearly 30 years. Catherine Urquhart reports.

The number of real estate sales in Greater Vancouver hit its lowest level since the year 2000, according to data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).

What’s more, condo prices dropped for the first time since January 2017.

According to the real estate board, there were 2,070 property sales in total in July, down 30.1 per cent from July 2017, down 14.6 per cent from June of this year, and nearly 30 per cent below the 10-year average for the month of July.

“With fewer buyers active in today’s market, we’re seeing less upward pressure on home prices across the region,” said REBGV president Phil Moore in a media release.

READ MORE: Metro Vancouver housing supply at three-year high, but prices still up: REBGV

“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.”

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Moore added that the summer months are always slower in real estate, but that the trend is particularly pronounced this year.

“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 biggest dip, as in recent months, has been in sales of detached homes.

The REBGV says 637 such properties were sold, down 32.9 per cent year-over-year. The benchmark price for a detached home sits at $1.588 million, down 1.5 per cent from July 2017, and down 0.6 per cent from June 2018.

Condo prices dip

But there are also signs of a cooling in the region’s white-hot condo market as well.

The REBGV says 1,079 units moved last month, down 26.5 per cent from July 2017. The regional benchmark price for a condo unit now sits at $700,500, up 13.6 per cent from July 2017.

However, that figure is down 0.5 per cent from $704,200 in June, and marks the first time condo prices have dropped from one month to the next since the beginning of 2017.

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Vancouver realtor Steve Saretsky, who watches the condo market closely, said he’s not surprised to see condo prices start to falter amid tighter mortgage rules and a slew new B.C. taxes aimed at cooling the housing market.

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“The detached market has been correcting for two years now, and it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that the townhouse and condo market is now following suit,” he said.

With detached home prices continuing to slide, Saretsky said many people who might have been pushed into the condo market for affordability reasons may be back in the market for a bigger property.

“At some point, you have to look and say, ‘Why am I spending a million dollars on a two-bedroom condo?'” he said.

“At some point it just doesn’t make sense.”

READ MORE: A Greater Vancouver condo now costs nearly as much as a house 4 years ago: Royal LePage

He said stalling condo prices at the high and low end of the market are also discouraging speculators, and their exit is, in turn, further reducing price pressures.

Saretsky said it’s not clear whether prices will continue a steady downward trend. But he said the combination of reduced demand and a large amount of new supply coming on the market are likely to create favourable conditions for buyers.

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