Newspaper article The Canadian Press

2018 Home Sales in B.C. Expected to Decline, but Prices Climb, Economists Say

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

2018 Home Sales in B.C. Expected to Decline, but Prices Climb, Economists Say

Article excerpt

B.C. home sales expected to fall, prices climb

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VANCOUVER - An upward trend in housing prices isn't expected to significantly change in British Columbia despite an anticipated slowdown in sales this year, economists say.

The B.C. Real Estate Association's chief economist said Wednesday that new housing stock, slightly higher interest rates and tighter mortgage regulations will result in about a 10 per cent decline in sales compared with 2017.

But demand continues to outpace supply in most markets from Vancouver Island to the Okanagan, which spurs rising prices, Cameron Muir said.

"We would need a combination of a pretty substantial decline in demand as well as significant increases in overall residential supply in order to get to the point in which prices would decline," Muir said.

Nationally, the Canadian Real Estate Association has said tighter mortgage regulations imposed on Monday, including a stress test for uninsured mortgages, would result in fewer sales and reduced prices by about 1.4 per cent to an average selling price of $503,100 this year.

Bryan Yu, economist with Central 1 Credit Union, said the changes may slow the pace of first-time buyers entering the market or lead to adjustments in what people choose to buy.

While this may slow sales, particularly in the first quarter of this year, he said B.C.'s growing economy and jobs will maintain a strong demand.

"I think the overall economic drivers are still there to support rising prices through 2018," Yu said.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said Wednesday the benchmark price for all residential properties was $1,050,300, in 2017, a 15.9 per cent jump from December 2016.

Sales of detached homes, townhomes and apartments reached 35,993 last year, the third highest total in a decade.

The board considers the sales total more "historically normal," marking a 9.9 per cent decrease from 2016 and down 15 per cent from the sizzling pace of 2015.

A key aspect of last year's housing market was a decline in the number of available listings, a trend the board has said can put upward pressure on prices. …

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