It already feels like summer, and with the hot weather comes an even hotter housing market.
Sales of properties in the Victoria Real Estate Board region went up an astounding 53 per cent this April, compared to the same month last year. The VREB saw 1,286 properties sold last month, up from 840 in April 2015.
Additionally, home buyers had fewer properties to choose from in April 2016 than April 2015, with active listings totalling 2,594 at the end of the month, down from 3,945 a year prior.
In a statement, VREB president of the board Mike Nugent attributed the boost in home sales to a range of ongoing market trends, including low mortgage rates, higher employment numbers, diversity of properties for sale and the “growing international awareness” of Victoria as a place to live.
“We continue to see extraordinary interest in the Victoria and area housing market,” said Nugent. “The vast majority of Victoria buyers are from within the local Victoria marketplace.”
According to the VREB, Victoria area residents made up 70.5 per cent of home buyers last year. In the first quarter of 2016, the average has risen to 72.5 per cent.
Nugent said this quarter, they’ve seen slight increases in buyers from the Lower Mainland (8.2 per cent, up from 7.4 per cent in 2015), the U.S. (one per cent, up from 0.8 per cent) and Asia (0.8 per cent, up from 0.7 per cent). They’ve also seen a decrease in Albert buyers, dropping from 5.7 per cent in 2015 to 3.9 per cent this quarter.
The VREB said the benchmark value for a single family home in the Victoria core was estimated at $581,700 in April 2015, and has since increased 17.7 per cent to $684,900.
Nugent noted that areas like Saanich and Oak Bay are in high demand for home sales, creating a lot of competition among prospective buyers.
“As a consumer it may pay to get creative, consider types of property and locations you may have not originally identified,” he said, adding condos and townhomes may be more appropriate for first-time buyers.
Nugent noted some areas, such as Esquimalt and the West Shore, are under slightly less pricing pressure and may offer more affordable alternatives that won’t break the bank.