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.
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.
“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.
“In a year when we have a global pandemic and one of the worst recessions in Canadian history.”
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.
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.
Other parts of the province saw even greater growth.
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.
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.
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.