Eastern Fraser Valley housing action “insane”

Mission detached-house sales soared 166% in December

A 0.64-acre land assembly in Mission sold for $1.4 million in December | Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty Mission

The Fraser Valley set a record-setting sales volume in December, but it was the eastern Fraser Valley that is seeing the most explosive increases in detached house sales and residential land demand, agents say.

In December, home sales through the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) were up 67.3% from the same month a year earlier; sales of detached houses, which dominate valley sales, were up 90% year-over-year.

In Mission, however, sales of detached houses rocketed up 166.7%, the highest increase in the Lower Mainland. A key reason is the average house price: in December it was $801,000 in Mission compared with $1.2 million in the rest of the Fraser Valley and north of $1.5 million in Greater Vancouver, according to data from the FVREB and the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

The higher sales of houses in Mission is seen, at least partially, as a reaction to the pandemic, which has persuaded many people to work from home. This translates into less concern about commuting and more demand for detached houses with outdoor space, agents say.

“The Mission market is insane,” said Jag Cheema, a veteran Royal LePage agent who specializes in land sales in the eastern Fraser Valley community.

Cheema said that a year ago he might get four calls a week from developers looking to buy residential sites in Mission.

“Now I am getting three calls a day,” he said. “It’s overwhelming.”

A shortage of detached-house inventory is keeping Mission prices high. In December, listings for houses were down 60% from a year earlier and 37% lower than in November.

Some houses are being bundled into land assemblies and sold for development at prices that rival Metro Vancouver. In December, for example, a two-lot assembly of just over half an acre on Mission’s First Avenue sold for $1.4 million.

“For every residential land listing we can get up to 40 buyers,” Cheema said.

He added that most developers are looking for land suitable for strata or rental apartment construction and estimated that land prices are up 10% to 15% from last year.

In the eastern valley community of Abbotsford, where the average house sells for $969,000, sales of detached houses were up 77.3% in December compared with December 2019.

The Fraser Valley is seeing higher sales increases than in Greater Vancouver, where December sales were 53.4% higher when compared with the same month a year earlier.

“The pandemic upended everything in 2020,” said FVREB president Chris Shields. “No one could have anticipated a six-month stretch like we’ve just experienced. Typical seasonal cycles did not apply, and most unexpected has been the unwavering demand for family-sized houses in our region and so far, there is no sign of it slowing down.”

Fraser Valley sales of the three main residential property types in 2020 were 8,176 (singlefamily detached), 5,102 (townhouses) and 4,357 (apartments).

The FVREB reports that yearoveryear, sales of detached houses soared by 41.7% compared with 2019, townhome sales increased by 31.2% and sales of apartments increased by nearly 6%.