New real estate numbers show sales in Greater Victoria have slowed down in January 2018, but the long-term direction appears uncertain at this stage. Black Press File

Real estate sales in Greater Victoria almost down 10 per cent

New figures that show lower real estate sales could be a sign of things to come.

That is the message from local industry leaders after the release of figures that show real estate sales dropped nearly 10 per cent.

Kyle Kerr, president of the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB), said the figures met expectations.

“We expected January to be a bit slower after the increase in activity we saw in November and December, which was likely due in part to buyers entering the market early to avoid the new mortgage stress test,” he said.

The full effect of the new rules designed to curb real estate speculation will not fully appear later, he added. “We won’t know how much that stress test will affect the spring market until we see the numbers, and spring is also the time when sales traditionally pick up.

Looking closer, statistics show rising prices against the backdrop of low inventory. Figures show 1,491 active listings in the Greater Victoria region — up 7.7 per cent from December 2017, but close to two recent historic low points in December 2016 and January 2017.

This “lack of inventory” as described by VREB has in turned maintained pressure on prices. The benchmark value for a single family home in the Victoria Core (which includes Saanich) was $831,900 in January 2018 — up 9.3 per cent from $761,100 in January 2017.

“We can also see the effects of headwinds influencing our market in 2018, including attempts to curb demand at all levels of government,” said Kerr. “The mortgage stress test is the latest to be introduced, and we may learn of further measures later this month when the provincial budget is released.”

January’s numbers have received a good deal of scrutiny and commentary, as a would-be seismograph of the new mortgage rules and other potential political developments that might impact the real estate industry, an important sector of not just Victoria’s economy, but also the provincial economy-at-large. Ottawa, for example, has expressed concerns about Canadians’ debt-load, while the provincial government has been considering various measures to improve housing affordability, as well as curb illegal activities involving real estate.

Sales through the first two weeks of 2018 were down significantly compared to the same period the year before with commentators such as Leo Spalteholtz of househuntvictoria.ca pointing to the new mortgage rules. Then sales took off through the third week of January in leading towards the final figures, which Spalteholtz says actually reflect a market of “contradictions.”

“There are just as many single family homes selling now as last year, but they are taking nearly twice as long to sell (31 days). Meanwhile condo sales are down by a quarter, inventory is up, but they are selling twice as fast as last year (8 days),” he said.

Speaking with the Saanich News just days before the end of the month, Kimberly Legeard of New Port Realty, meanwhile, thinks that the stress test has had a negative effect.

“What we are seeing is a lot of challenge around the mortgage test,” she said. With prices high already, it has impacted people’s purchasing power, she said. Meanwhile, would-be sellers in Victoria might be hesitating to put their properties on the market because they might not find another place to live, she said.

Just Posted

Weekend revellers keep Sooke police busy

Mounties respond to 68 calls for service

Supreme Court rules residents in Victoria social housing deserve tenant rights

Tenants trying to stabilize their living situations should not face less legal rights than those paying market rates: Judge

Weapons and drugs could lead to 29 charges against Victoria man

VicPD found a cache of weapons, drugs and counterfeit money

Oak Bay set to turn up the heat on beach picnics

Committee of the whole makes unanimous recommendation to allow portable bbqs at local beaches

Victoria Cool Aid Society invites you to their Homecoming

Event celebrates 50 years of social services across Greater Victoria with fundraiser to keep programs running

Film Review: On Chesil Beach

Saoirse Ronan continues to shine in adaptation Ian McEwan novel about young newlyweds on their wedding day

Police release video on how to ‘run, hide, fight’ if there’s an active shooter

Vancouver police offer video with input from E-Comm, BC EHS, Vancouver Fire and Rescue

RCMP caution boaters after two kids pass out from carbon monoxide poisoning

Both children were given oxygen and taken to hospital

B.C. invests $115M to create 200 new nurse practitioner jobs

Health Minister says 780,000 B.C. residents don’t have a family doctor

Union calls on prime minister to step into ‘stalled’ Phoenix compensation talks

For more than two years, thousands of federal workers have been affected by Phoenix system

Judge: President Trump can’t block critics on Twitter

The judge had suggested that Trump mute rather than block some of his critics

NFL owners adopt new policy to address anthem protests

Commissioner Roger Goodell said the change was approved unanimously by owners

Film Review: On Chesil Beach

Saoirse Ronan continues to shine in adaptation Ian McEwan novel about young newlyweds on their wedding day

Unicyclist starts his cross-Canada trip in Vancouver

Taylor Stark started his journey May 7

Most Read