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B.C. real estate defies pandemic with sales, price growth in 2020

Click to play video 'B.C.’s housing market soars despite pandemic' B.C.’s housing market soars despite pandemic
B.C.'s housing market soars despite pandemic – Jan 13, 2021

British Columbia’s real estate proved remarkably resistant to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new data from the B.C. Real Estate Association.

The organization released data on the 2020 market Wednesday showing significant growth in both sales and in prices.

Read more: Record-shattering December for real estate sales in the Fraser Valley

Nearly 94,000 homes sold last year, a jump of 21.5 per cent over 2019, it said. The average price for the year across all home types was over $782,000, up 11.7 per cent year over year.

Click to play video 'Fraser Valley reports record breaking 2020 home sales' Fraser Valley reports record breaking 2020 home sales
Fraser Valley reports record breaking 2020 home sales – Jan 5, 2021

“We’ve really been, market by market, seeing record home sales since about the summer, and that momentum looks like it’s going to continue into 2021,” BCREA chief economist Brendon Ogmundson told Global News.

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“In a year when we have a global pandemic and one of the worst recessions in Canadian history.”

Read more: BC Assessment records show 2021 Metro Vancouver assessed property values up as much as 10%

Ogmundson said the market gains appeared to have resisted the pandemic because of the way its economic impacts have been unevenly spread.

COVID-19 employment impacts have disproportionately affected younger, lower-income British Columbians.

Higher-income employment in positions with more opportunity to work from home has actually posted gains of about six per cent since the start of the pandemic, he said.

That segment of would-be buyers has combined with already high demand and a “supercharged environment” of near record-low mortgage rates, Ogmundson said.

Click to play video 'Open House: Predicting B.C. real estate trends for 2021' Open House: Predicting B.C. real estate trends for 2021
Open House: Predicting B.C. real estate trends for 2021 – Jan 1, 2021

The traditionally heated Greater Vancouver market saw gains in 2020, with sales up by 23.1 per cent and prices up by eight per cent to an average of about $1.06 million.

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Other parts of the province saw even greater growth.

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B.C. recreational real estate sales seeing pandemic boom – Nov 30, 2020

The South Okanagan saw sales surge by 32.7 per cent and prices climb 15.5 per cent to an average of about $496,000, according to the data. The Okanagan Mainline region saw sales up 21.8 per cent and prices spike by 16.7 per cent to an average of about $612,000.

Read more: September was record month for home sales, says B.C. Real Estate Association

On Vancouver Island, sales were up 20.1 per cent, while prices climbed 8.6 per cent to an average of about $531,000.

In Victoria, sales climbed 16.9 per cent, while prices were up 13 per cent to an average of about $778,000.

Ogmundsun believes the increases around the province reflect a combination of the pandemic pushing some people into early retirement, while others able to work remotely sought larger homes away from Vancouver.

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With interest rates showing no sign of near-term increases, continued pent-up demand and the possibility of an economic recovery as COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out, Ogmundsun believes 2021 could see even more growth.

“We’re going to have very strong price increases through at least the first half of the year,” he said.

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