The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board reported last month, 444 single-family homes sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System
compared to 518 in May and 617 one year ago. The number of apartments changing hands last month dropped by
21 per cent, but in the townhouse category, sales increased by 26 per cent.
Housing demand in the VIREB area has shifted lower in the first half of 2018 as stricter mortgage qualifications for
conventional borrowers and rising interest rates took their toll on household purchasing power and affordability. It
is unclear whether the June slowdown is reflective of seasonal summer market conditions or if demand-side policy
changes are finally beginning to play a larger role in VIREB’s housing market.
Despite lower sales thus far in 2018, lack of inventory continues to tilt the market in favour of sellers and push
prices upwards. The number of single-family homes for sale has been slowly increasing, hitting 1,336 in June, up
only three per cent from May but a significant increase from the 893 properties available in January. The supply of
townhouses rose by 33 per cent from one year ago, but many of the listings behind these modest inventory gains
in both property types are being quickly snapped up by buyers.
In its 2018 Second-Quarter Housing Forecast, the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) anticipates that
MLS® residential sales in the province will decline by nine per cent to 94,200 units this year from 103,700 in 2017.
“B.C. housing markets have benefited from the provincial economy expanding well above trend growth over the
past four years,” says BCREA chief economist Cameron Muir. “However, economic growth is expected to slow and
reflect the long-term average this year.”
On a local level, BCREA predicts that over the next eight months, VIREB’s long-term sellers’ market will begin
shifting towards more balanced conditions. Further, the pace of price increases will slow if demand keeps
declining, but it is unlikely that prices will drop until additional inventory enters the market by way of new
construction or buyer appetite decreases drastically.
In the meantime, competition for homes – especially in the $300,000 to $500,000 range – is still modus operandi in
the VIREB area, with multiple offers a commonplace occurrence on properties in that price range. Despite buyer
demand, however, homes at most price points still need to be reasonably priced.
“For sellers, properly pricing your home remains an important factor,” says Don McClintock, 2018 VIREB President.
“Buyers are savvy, and overpriced homes take longer to sell.
Connecting with a local REALTOR® is especially crucial in a competitive housing market.
“REALTORS® have specialized knowledge of their communities and can help streamline the buying and selling
process to ensure the best possible outcome for our clients,” says McClintock.
The benchmark price of a single-family home in the VIREB area reached $510,300 in June, a 15 per cent increase
from one year ago. (Benchmark pricing tracks the value of a typical home in the reported area.) The benchmark
price of an apartment last month was $313,300, a slight decrease from May but a 24 per cent increase over last
June. In the townhouse category, the benchmark price hit $405,000, up 18 per cent over June 2017.
Last month, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area climbed to $425,800, an
increase of 22 per cent over June 2017. In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price reached $510,700, up 17 per
cent from last year. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $450,500, up 12 per cent from June 2017. Nanaimo’s
benchmark price rose 11 per cent to $534,300, down slightly from May, while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its
benchmark price increase by 16 per cent to $575,800. The cost of a benchmark home in Port Alberni reached
$293,800, up 22 per cent from one year ago.