May Home Sales Surge in Metro Vancouver

Seller confidence returns as both sales and listings rise 23% over April, while condo-inventory chasm widens


A new record for home prices was set last month as buyer activity rebounded to near-record levels, according to Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGC) figures published June 2.

Sales rose nearly 23% compared with the previous month, and were only 8.5% behind those of May 2016, which remains the busiest May on record. Last month’s figures were also nearly 24% higher than the 10-year average for the month.

It’s likely no coincidence that new listings in the region also rose just over 23% compared with April, offering home buyers the inventory needed to boost those transaction numbers. New listings were also down year over year, by nearly 4%.

Although Greater Vancouver never left seller’s market territory, even after the introduction of the foreign buyer’s tax last year that resulted in a dip in sales, May’s sales-to-active listings ratio put the market even more deeply in favour of sellers.

The ratio at the end of May stood at 53.4% across all property types. For context, a balanced market, says the REBGV, is between 12 and 20%.

Even detached homes, sales of which declined the most last fall, are in very high demand at a 31% sales-to-listings ratio. For much-needed townhomes, the ratio 76.1%.

But condos were the hottest commodity. The sales-to-active-listings ratio for condo-apartment units, which stood at 82.2% at the end of April, is now a jaw-dropping 94.6%.

“Demand for condominiums and townhomes is driving today’s activity,” confirmed Jill Oudil, president of the REBGV. “First-time buyers and people looking to downsize from their single-family homes are both competing for these two types of housing.”

Sales and Listings Breakdown

Home sales across the Greater Vancouver region in May totalled 4,363, a rise of 22.8% month over month and a drop of 8.5% compared with May 2016, which was the busiest May for real estate activity on record.

Last month’s figures marks a significant rebound in what had been a somewhat hesitant spring market, with sales 23.7% higher than the 10-year average for the month.

Breaking it down different property types, there were 1,548 sales of detached homes in May – still significantly lower than a year ago, by 17%, but up by nearly 28% since April.

With townhomes, row homes and duplexes, 791 units exchanged hands in May, which is even higher than May last year, up 4.9%, and 27.5% higher than April this year.

Condo sales in May rose nearly 25% over April’s figures, to 2,150 transactions, which is down 5.8% from one year previously.

“While sales are inching closer to the record-breaking pace of 2016, the market itself looks different. Sales last year were driven by demand for single-family homes. This year, it's clear that townhomes and condominiums are leading the way,” said Oudil.

After being hesitant to list homes due to what seemed to be temporary market uncertainty, many sellers finally gained the confidence to market their properties in May, with new listings rising 23.2% over April to 6,044 homes.

And it wasn’t just condo sellers who responded to the rebounding market. In fact, the month-over-month increase in new listings was led by single-family homes, up 27.1%, followed by condos (up 22.7%) and townhomes (14.1%).

This took the number of available homes for sale at the end of May to 8,168, which is 5.7% more than in May 2016 and 4.5% higher than April 2017.

New Record for Benchmark Prices

May saw the REBGV set another new record for benchmark prices, now at $967,500 for a typical home (composite of all residential property types), blended across the region. This price is 2.8% higher than the last record set a month earlier, 8.8% higher than May last year and 3.7% more than 2016’s overall price peak in August.

Condo-apartment properties remain the runaway winners in terms of price growth, rising 17.8% year over year to $571,300, which is a lift of 3.1% in a single month.

Attached properties such as townhomes saw the next highest growth in typical prices, now at $715,400, up 13.1% in one year and just shy of a 2% increase since April.

Detached home prices, which have dipped and then climbed back since last summer, are catching up with last year’s July record of $1,578,300, now standing at $1,561,000. This is a rise of 3.1% since May last year and 2.9% higher than April, but the only property type not to set a new benchmark price record.

Home prices vary widely throughout the REBGV region. To get a good idea of home prices in a specific location, check the detailed MLS® Home Price Index in the REBGV full statistics package.

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