Property sales and housing prices went up in 2015 and according to the Victoria Real Estate Board, 2016 looks to be par for the course.
VREB past-president Guy Crozier said the region saw nearly 8,300 sales last year, up nearly 24 per cent from the roughly 6,700 in 2014. Not only that, the number of houses on the market dropped below 3,000 for the first time since 2007.
He said the increase in sales, as well as the jump in housing prices in most areas, boils down to supply and demand.
“There’s a strong demand and it’s really taken a toll on the inventory,” Crozier said. “The result of that is, we’ve seen prices in the Capital Region up about 10 to 11 per cent, with some places a little higher, depending on the supply.
“Our opinion is that this is good news for homeowners because they’re seeing the equity and the value of their properties go up. But it’s also not bad news for sellers, in that prices haven’t gone crazy like in other parts of Canada. There are still very much affordable areas, there are still condominiums and townhouses that are available at reasonable prices, and there are still reasonably priced homes around the Capital Region.”
While lower inventory can put more pressure on prices, Crozier said there are still various options for prospective buyers, and there are more homes being built for completion this year.
The West Shore is a good example of an area where building continues unabated, with condo, townhouse and single family home projects ongoing.
“Although the benchmark price is in the high fives ($560,900 for a single family home), you can still find single-family houses for the mid-fours if you’re willing to look at a 15- or 20-minute drive,” he said. “We still see there’s a lot of growth areas on the West Shore for housing possibilities and there are more condo projects on the way.”
Crozier noted that Greater Victoria faces different challenges than Vancouver’s housing market. While both areas are seeing an increase in sales, the Island’s prices aren’t as inflated and the region has less foreign ownership, he said.
“Unlike Vancouver, Victoria went through a correction in 2008 and 2009, so our house prices haven’t been climbing like Vancouver has over the last 10 years. Our prices have only been increasing here for probably the last year and a half.
“The majority of people moving to Victoria (from out of town) are coming from other places in Canada,” he added.
“You look out your window and see what it’s like here in winter, and people are still golfing and walking the trails and riding their bikes. That’s what most of Canada can’t experience unless they move here.”
Despite the ongoing influx of retirees and fewer homes to choose from, Crozier expects the Island housing market will remain great for buyers and sellers this year as more properties are developed.
“I think (2016) is a very opportunistic year for most people wanting to make a real estate move.”
Q: WHAT DO THE NUMBERS LOOK LIKE FOR AVERAGE HOME PRICES ON THE WEST SHORE THESE DAYS?
The Victoria Real Estate Board uses the Multiple Listings Service (MLS) Home Price Index (HPI) system to report on selling trends and give prospective buyers and sellers a sense of what direction the real estate market is headed.
The HPI uses the concept of a benchmark home, a notional home with common attributes of typical homes in a defined area.
Through the analysis of over 10 years of Victoria Real Estate Board MLS sales data, the HPI has defined benchmark homes for Greater Victoria in each category (single family homes, townhouses and condominiums) and for each neighbourhood. The benchmark starting point was 2005, where each type of property and neighbourhood was assigned an index value of 100.
The VREB December benchmark price for homes in West Shore municipalities, including Sooke but not including View Royal, was $424,300, up significantly from the 2014 mark of $402,600. Showing the upswing in prices, values from Sooke to View Royal jumped between $20,000 (Sooke) and $36,000 (View Royal) from their 2014 benchmark prices.
The 2015 numbers by municipality started with Sooke at $358,200, followed by Langford at $428,500, Colwood at $467,500, View Royal at $537,900, Metchosin at $597,400 and Highlands at $887,900.
While pricing ranges greatly depending on the neighbourhood, the collective West Shore benchmark price for single-family homes continues to be significantly lower than homes in Greater Victoria’s core areas of Saanich, Victoria, Oak Bay and Esquimalt. That number sat at $613,600 as of last month, up 9.3 per cent from the same month in 2014.
GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » MONTH END DEC. 31/15 COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD
» 465 / 389 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES / TOTAL, DECEMBER 2014
» 451 / 419 –NEW LISTINGS / TOTAL, DECEMBER 2014
» 2,517 / 3,210 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / TOTAL, DECEMBER 2014