Vancouver home sales drop sharply in June

Vancouver home sales hit their lowest level in more than a decade in June, tilting the market in favour of buyers, the city's real estate board says.

Prices remain firm even though sales hit 10-year low

Vancouver home sales are down, and supply is up, but does that mean a break on prices? 1:47

Vancouver home sales hit their lowest level in more than a decade in June, tilting the market in favour of buyers, the city's real estate board said Wednesday.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reported 2,362 sales in June, a decline from 2,853 in May and also down 27.6 per cent from a year earlier when there were 3,262 sales.

The board said June sales were the lowest total for the month in the region since 2000, inching Vancouver toward a buyer's market.

"There is an opportunity for you to be able to be more competitive in pricing," said Eugen Klein with the REBGV.

"There's an opportunity for you to get better terms in the very least, and those types of opportunities haven't been in the marketplace as prevalent in the last five to 10 years."

Lillian Noble is trying to sell her home on Vancouver's West Side. The neighbourhood's expensive homes were in high demand a year ago, but Noble hasn't received a single offer since her home was listed for just under $2 million almost three weeks ago.

"Just yesterday [my real estate agent] told me it's a soft market and that things aren't selling very quickly," said Noble. "Of course, everybody wants you to lower your price to as low as possible."

Noble isn't dropping the price yet, as she's in no rush to sell, and she's not alone.

Less competition for buyers

Despite a drop in the number of sales, prices in what was once the country's hottest real estate market have remained firm, the REGBV said.

In June 2012, the housing price index for residential properties in Vancouver was still up 1.7 per cent from a year ago.

"Overall conditions have trended in favour of buyers in our marketplace in recent months," Klein said. "This means buyers are facing less competition and have more selection to choose from compared to earlier in the year."

June sales of detached properties in Vancouver totalled 921, down from 1,471 in June 2011, while the price for detached properties increased 3.3 per cent from a year ago to $961,600.

Sales of apartments slipped 19 per cent to 1,026 in June from 1,266 a year ago. The benchmark price of an apartment increased 0.3 per cent from June 2011 to $376,200.

Meanwhile, there were 415 attached property sales in June, down from 525 a year ago, while the benchmark price decreased 0.1 per cent from a year ago to $468,400.

Sales cool as mortgage rules tighten

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in the Greater Vancouver region totalled 5,617 in June, down from 6,927 new listings in May and from 5,793 new properties a year ago.

The total number of residential property listings on the board's MLS service was 18,493, up 3.27 per cent from May and up 22 per cent from this time last year.

Despite a drop in sales, prices in the Vancouver real estate market have so far remained firm. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The slowdown in sales in Vancouver comes ahead of changes by Ottawa to tighten mortgage lending in Canada.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty moved last month to cool the red hot condo markets in Toronto and Vancouver by tightening the rules for borrowers, including cutting the maximum amortization period for government insured mortgages cut to 25 years from 30.

As well, the federal regulator of financial institutions has told lenders they can only issue home equity loans up to a maximum of 65 per cent of the property's value, down from the previous 80 per cent.

With files from The Canadian Press