February listing data show a continued reluctance among prospective home sellers to engage in Metro Vancouver’s housing market, leading to below-average sales activity. With sales remaining well-below historical norms, the number of available homes for sale in the region have continued inching upwards.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential home sales in the region totalled 1,808 in February 2023, a 47.2 per cent decrease from the 3,424 sales recorded in February 2022, and a 76.9 per cent increase from the 1,022 homes sold in January 2023.
Last month’s sales were 33 per cent below the 10-year February sales average.
“It’s hard to sell what you don’t have, and with new listing activity remaining among the lowest in recent history, sales are struggling to hit typical levels for this point in the year,” said Andrew Lis, REBGV’s director, economics and data analytics. “On the plus side for prospective buyers, the below-average sales activity is allowing inventory to accumulate, which is keeping market conditions from straying too deeply into sellers’ market territory, particularly in the more affordably priced segments.”
There were 3,467 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Metro Vancouver in February 2023. This represents a 36.6 per cent decrease compared to the 5,471 homes listed in February 2022 and a 5.2 per cent increase compared to January 2023 when 3,297 homes were listed.
The total number of homes currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 7,868, a 16.7 per cent increase compared to February 2022 (6,742) and a 5.2 per cent increase compared to January 2023 (7,478).
“While we continue to expect home price trends to show year-over-year declines for a few more months, current data and market activity suggest pricing is firming up. In fact, some leading indicators suggest we may see modest price increases this spring, particularly if sales activity increases and mortgage rates hold steady,” Lis said. “In the somewhat unusual market environment we find ourselves in right now with higher mortgage rates, fewer sales, and inventory that is inching higher but remains far from abundant, working with a Realtor who understands your local market conditions and has experience navigating challenging markets is paramount.”
For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for February 2023 is 23 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 16.8 per cent for detached homes, 30.1 per cent for townhomes, and 25.8 per cent for apartments.
Generally, analysts say downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below 12 per cent for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20 per cent over several months.
Signs of stability in Fraser Valley create opportunities for home buyers and sellers.
House prices in the Fraser Valley posted a slight but positive bump in February after nearly a year of month-over- month decreases. Similarly, sales, though still trending lower than normal, also recorded their first monthly gain since October.
The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) processed 898 sales on its Multiple Listing Service® in February, an increase of 43.5 per cent over January but still only half as many as were recorded a year ago.
February new listings were also up, by 5.7 per cent over last month to 1,938 but 48.2 per cent lower than this time last year. Active listings grew by 7.0 per cent over January and by 16.3 per cent over February 2022.
The composite Benchmark price in February was $946,700 and though relatively flat compared to January with a negligible gain of 0.5 per cent, it reverses the price slide the market has been experiencing since April 2022. Further, while well below the record prices posted at that time, it is still more than 36 per cent higher than pre-pandemic February 2020.
“In recent months, the level of uncertainty regarding rates and prices has negatively impacted inventory and that’s kept a lot of clients on the sidelines,” said Sandra Benz, President of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board. “Together with a growing consensus suggesting that a pause on rate hikes is imminent, the positive signals from the market give families something to build on and plan for. As that starts to happen we expect to see sales pick up slowly but steadily heading into spring.”
With a sales-to-active listings ratio of 20 per cent, the overall market was once again in balance, however the ratio for townhomes was higher at 36 per cent, indicating a seller’s market for this category. The market is considered in balance when the ratio is between 12 per cent and 20 per cent.
“All indications suggest that the market is on track to re-establish a level of stability, which is encouraging for both demand and supply sides,” said Baldev Gill, Chief Executive Officer of the Board. “With solid opportunities for properties that are appropriately priced, investing in the expertise of a professional REALTOR® should be the first decision buyers and sellers make to ensure the best local strategies before jumping back into the market.”
Properties spent between 7 and 12 fewer days on the market compared to last month, another sign that the market may be picking up. Across Fraser Valley in February, the average number of days to sell a single-family detached home was 36 and a townhome was 33 days. Apartments took, on average, 32 days to sell.