Property sales and housing prices went up in 2015, and according to the Victoria Real Estate Board, 2016 looks to be par for the course.
VREB president Guy Crozier said the board saw more than 8,000 sales in 2015, up from 6,700 the previous year, with the number of houses on the market dropping below 3,000 for the first time since 2007. He said the increase in sales, as well as in the increase in housing prices in the area, boils down to supply and demand.
“There’s a strong demand and it’s really taken a toll on the inventory,” said Crozier. “The result of that is, we’ve seen prices in the Capital region up about 10 to 11 per cent, with some places a little higher depending on the supply.
“Our opinion is that this is good news for homeowners because they’re seeing the equity and the value of their properties go up, but it’s also not bad news for sellers in that prices haven’t gone crazy like in other parts of Canada. There are still very much affordable areas, there are still condominiums and townhouses that are available at reasonable prices, and there are still reasonably priced homes around the Capital region.”
While lower inventory can put more pressure on prices, Crozier said there are still options for prospective buyers, and there are more being built heading into the new year.
“Although the benchmark price is in the high fives, you can still find single-family houses for the mid-fours if you’re willing to look at a 15- or 20-minute drive,” he said. “We still see there’s a lot of growth areas on the West Shore for housing possibilities and there are more condo projects on the way.”
Crozier noted that Victoria faces different challenges from Vancouver’s housing market. While both areas are seeing an increase in sales, the Island’s prices aren’t as inflated and the region has less foreign ownership, said Crozier.
“Unlike Vancouver, Victoria went through a correction in 2008 and 2009, so our house prices haven’t been climbing like Vancouver has over the last 10 years,” he said. “Our prices have only been increasing here for probably the last year and a half.
“The majority of people moving to Victoria from outside of Victoria are coming from other places in Canada,” he added. “You look out your window and see what it’s like here in winter, and people are still golfing and walking trails and riding their bikes. That’s what most of Canada can’t experience unless they move here.”
Despite the ongoing influx of retirees and fewer homes to choose from, Crozier said he expects the Island housing market will remain great for buyers and sellers next year as more properties are developed.
“I think next year is a very opportunistic year for most people wanting to make a real estate move,” he said.