Sales of condominiums, here under construction in Sidney, have dropped by more than 30 per cent year-to-year in the Greater Victoria area. (Steven Heywood/News Staff) Sales of condominiums, here under construction in Sidney, have dropped by more than 30 per cent year-to-year in the Greater Victoria area. (Steven Heywood/News Staff)

Condo sales fall 30 per cent year-to-year in Greater Victoria

One expert predicts Greater Victoria real estate is heading towards balanced market

The local real estate market continues to slow down, with year-to-year sales of condominiums dropping by more than 30 per cent, according to new statistics from the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB).

The drop in condo sales is especially eye-catching because those sales had previously propped up the Greater Victoria housing market, compared to the softening demand for single family homes, whose sales dropped 9.2 per cent in September 2018 when compared to September 2017.

Realtors overall sold almost 17 per cent fewer properties year-to-year.

RELATED: Condominiums prop up weakening real estate market across Greater Victoria

Kyle Kerr, VREB’s president, said these new figures reflect expectations. “We continue to see a reduction in sales when we compare to recent years and prices stabilizing across the market, with some variation in value in niche, higher-end homes.”

The number of active listings in September 2018 rose by almost 34 per cent year-to-year, while year-to-year benchmark prices rose by 6.2 per cent to $832,000.

This phenomenon of higher inventories and rising prices reflects the existence of what Kerr calls the existence of distinct micro-markets.

“The under $800,000 housing market in some areas is under tremendous pressure as many buyers compete for these homes,” he said. “The multimillion-dollar market in other areas is currently experiencing less pressure and we can see price flexibility coming into play in the $1.5 million dollar plus market.”

Leo Spalteholtz, a local realtor and industry experts, who blogs on House Hunt Victoria, also highlights the sticky, if not rising prices.

RELATED: Greater Victoria real estate industry wrestles with uncertainty

“According to the months of inventory we are still only in a balanced market and shouldn’t yet be expecting absolute price declines in the broader market,” he said. “However the cooling trend has been pretty consistent this year so we may yet pass through the balanced market and keep slowing down to a buyers market.”

The market, in other words, is moving slower than public expectations. Outside of sudden shocks, it takes many months and even years for cycles to play out, he said.

But the direction is clear. Victoria is approaching a “balanced” market that favours neither buyers and sellers, and if trends continue, buyers may soon have the upper hand, a trend-line confirmed by the sales-to-active listings ratio.

Where it once stood near 90 per cent in March 2017, it currently hovers in the mid-20 range. A market appears balanced if the ratio hovers between 15 and 20 per cent, and favours buyers if it is below 10 per cent.

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