New real estate numbers from February 2018 show sales in Greater Victoria continue to slow down. Black Press File

Real estate sales in Greater Victoria slump almost 20 per cent

Sales are down across the region, but the drop could be worse, when held up against the historic highs of the last two years.

That is the message from the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) after it released new sales figures for February.

VREB reported 545 properties sold in February – almost 20 per cent less than the 675 properties sold in February last year. Sales of condominium dropped 15.5 per cent compared to the same period last year, while single family homes dropped 24.4 per cent.

“Yes, numbers are down in a signififcant amount compared to last year,” said Kyle Kerr, VREB’s president.

But this drop deserves perspective, he added. 2016 was a record year for sales, and 2017 also witnessed strong sales, he said.

“Even down 20 per cent, it is not a huge correction,” he said.

So what accounted for the drop? Kerr cites a combination of factors.

Measures to curb demand such as the mortgage stress test are starting to show effects, as new buyers are adjusting to them, he said. Interest rates are also trending up, he said.

This said, supply remains at an historical low, and the market continues to show upward pressure on prices, despite a small uptick in listings.

Looking at the ratio of total residential sales over total active residential listings, it was near the 50 per cent mark. According to VREB, a market qualifies as a seller’s market if the ratio line is above 25 per cent.

In February 2018, the benchmark value for a single-family home in the VREB region was $710,500. For Saanich (East), it was $877,400, for Saanich (West) $703,700. The most expensive community in the core region of Greater Victoria was Oak Bay with $1.22 million, with the City of Victoria at $823,900.

Looking at total sales figures for Saanich, 62 single family homes worth more $63.17 million sold across all parts of the community in February 2018. A total of 31 condominiums worth almost $12.5 million sold across Saanich, while sales of local townhouses totaled 15 worth some $11 million.

The corresponding figures for January were 38 single family homes worth more than $35.6 million, 24 condominiums worth more than $10.7 million, and five townhouses worth more than $3.1 million.

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