British Columbia

Metro Vancouver home sales surge 23.5% in July compared to last year

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver is cautiously optimistic following what was considered one of the worst Junes in almost two decades.

Fraser Valley saw an increase of 13%; benchmark prices fall

A "for sale" sign.
A low interest rate, an increase in listing options and lower prices all played a role in the latest numbers, says Colette Gerber of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

Following what was considered to be one of the worst Junes in almost two decades, home sales have gone up. 

That's according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), which saw a jump of 23.5 per cent across Metro Vancouver this July compared to the same month last year. This made July the second highest-selling month so far this year. 

"Whether this is a sign of the future is too early to tell," said Colette Gerber with the REBGV. "We need more market data before we can say 'yes, we are on an increase trend,' but it is encouraging."

Such an increase is unusual, Gerber adds, noting sale numbers tend to change gradually, instead of suddenly — especially following a slow month like this June. 

She says a low interest rate, an increase in listing options, as well as lower prices all played a role in the latest numbers. 

Residential home sales in the region totalled 2,557 in July, up from the 2,070 sales recorded in July 2018, according to the REBGV. That also marks a 23.1 per cent increase from the 2,077 homes sold in June 2019.

Benchmark prices for all residential properties decreased by 9.4 per cent in July compared to last year, to $995,200 —and according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), home prices are expected to drop further. 

"According to our outlook, we do expect house prices to move, on average, seven per cent lower for 2019 in Metro Vancouver," said Eric Bond with CMHC. "And that will be followed for another four per cent price decline next year as the market basically re-equilibrates more around local economic conditions."

Numbers still below 10-year average

Home sales in the Fraser Valley also saw an increase last month of 13 per cent compared to July 2018, up to 1,458 from 1,290, according to the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board. 

Similar to Metro Vancouver, benchmark prices saw a decrease. 

Despite home sales going up, Gerber says numbers are still 7.8 per cent below the 10-year average. 

Listing agent Tom Gradecak says it's tougher to sell multi-million dollar homes these days compared to a few years ago. He says mortgage stress tests and other disincentives brought in by all levels of government have had an impact in the industry.

"You know speculation tax, foreign buyers tax, vacancy home tax, school tax. People are getting a little tired of it," he added.

But according to Gerber, these ups and downs are part of any industry. 

"There are good times and bad times, and 20 years ago was a bad time. And now we are just back to more normal real estate trends," she added.

With files from Greg Rasmussen