Home sales in Metro Vancouver fell 18.9% in July, compared with the same month a year ago, and 26.7%, compared with June, according to statistics that the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver released August 3.
Prices, however, continued to rise. A benchmark home in the region is now $930,400, or 32.6% more than a year ago. That price is 1.4% more than the $917,800 benchmark price in June.
It was low sales across the region, however, that has broken a longtime trend.
This is the first time since January, when 2,519 sales closed, that fewer than 4,000 homes were sold in the region, given that a mere 3,978 sales transacted during what is supposed to be the prime sales month of July.
The sluggish sales may have stemmed in part from the B.C. government's controversial July 25 announcement that foreign home buyers would have to pay a 15% tax, starting August 2, when they buy a home in Metro Vancouver. Many in the industry say that announcement put a chill in the market.
REBGV president Dan Morrison, however, said that home sale activity showed some moderating signs in late June and that this sentiment carried into the earlier part of July.
“We’ll wait and watch over the next few months to see if this marks the return of more normal market trends," he said.
The number of listed properties for sale is also down – 27.4% to 8,351, compared to July 2015, although listings are up 6.9% compared with June.
The market, however, is still considered a seller’s market given that the sales-to-active-listings ratio for July 2016 is 38.6%.
Conventional real estate wisdom is that a market is considered to be a buyer's market when the sales-to-active-listings ratio is below 13% for a sustained period of time. A balanced market exists when the ratio is between 13% and about 21%. A seller’s market is anything above that.
Last month, the sales-to-active listings ratio was 56.3%.
All classes of residential real estate bore the same basic trend of fewer sales, a slight price increase, compared with June, and a large price increase when compared with last July.
Sales for detached homes fell 30.9% in July, compared with the same month a year ago, and the benchmark price increased 38% during the same two time periods, to $1,578,300.
Apartment properties’ sales fell 7.3%, compared with July 2015, while prices increased 27.4%, to $510,600, in the same two time periods.
Attached properties, such as duplexes, had a sales dip of 20.7% in July, compared with a year ago. Prices for those homes were up 29.4%, during the same two time periods, to $669.000.