HOMEFINDER: West Shore continues to lead in affordable housing

December was a slower month compared to the rest of 2016 in the Greater Victoria real estate market.

Continued development has helped the West Shore maintain a leading position in the Greater Victoria real estate market.

Continued development has helped the West Shore maintain a leading position in the Greater Victoria real estate market.

December went against the grain compared to most of 2016, with fewer houses sold in the Capital Region overall during the month compared to 2015. The total unconditional sales dipped slightly in December to a total of 429 compared to 465 in 2015.

November numbers were better, however, with the sale of 573 properties marking an increase of 4.5 per cent compared to the year before.

The West Shore continued to lead in new listings, accounting for 87 of the 283 in the Capital Region in December. Those figures were for residential listings for December, and did not include commercial listings, which were not available as of the Gazette’s print deadline.

Inventory levels remained lower in November than the year before, with 1,815 active listings for sale on the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing service in December, compared to 2,952 for the year before.

The average cost of a single-family home on the West Shore in 2016 rose to $502,200 from $427,100 in 2015, marking an increase of 17.6 per cent. Victoria Real Estate Board president Mike Nugent said the housing market overall remains in a strong cycle, citing current positive economic conditions, an increase in baby boomers retiring in the Victoria area, favourable living conditions, millennial buying cycles and a low Canadian dollar as contributing factors.

“Foreign buyers are another factor that affects our local market,” Nugent said in a media release. “The provincial government is considering implementation of a local tax on foreign buyers to ensure pressure on pricing from that source remains mitigated.”

Although foreign buyers represent a factor in the marketplace, a much larger factor is the lack of inventory, Nugent noted.

“An effective method to address housing affordability issues could be through efforts to increase the supply of housing, either through adjustments to zoning or density,” Nugent said.

Coun. Denise Blackwell, chair of Langford’s planning and zoning committee, said Langford has always been at the forefront of placing a priority on providing affordable housing.

“We will continue to work with the community to build affordable homes,” she said, adding that the less expensive land available in Langford helps in that regard.

About 750 rental units have been built or are in the process of being completed in the last year or so alone, Blackwell noted.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com