Early February numbers show condo buyers back

Vancouver home sales as of mid-February point to a resurgence in condo demand as transactions hit the highest level in four years

One-bedroom condo on Pacific Avenue, West End, recently listed at $523,000 | Image: REW.ca/Oakwyn Realty

Mid-February sales data shows that Greater Vancouver homes continue to sell at a blistering pace, in some markets already surpassing sales in the entire month of January.

In the first two weeks of February, 1,753 homes sold through the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, which is a 79% increase from the same point in January and up from 1,039 transactions at mid-February 2020.

With 8,083 active listings, the sales-to-listings ratio is 67%, up from 54% a year ago and indicative of a robust seller’s market, according to Kevin Skipworth, managing broker with Dexter Associates Realty, who said some sectors are seeing substantial action.

“West Vancouver [detached] house sales have already surpassed the total for January [2021],” Skipworth said. “Vancouver Westside condo sales are on track for the highest number since June 2017 – in fact in many areas, condo sales are pushing for highs not seen in the last few years.”

The condo resurgence is a departure from most of 2020, when sales of detached houses were setting record transactions and prices across all of Metro Vancouver, and some see an opportunity for downsizers and condo investors.

“Owners looking to downsize have an amazing opportunity right now,” said Dane Eitel, lead analyst at Eitel Insights, which tracks the residential market. “This is the first instance in four years where the price of an average detached house has reached over two and a half times the value of the average condo.

“For an example, a [mortgage-free] owner of a Vancouver East house could sell their property for on average for $1.82 million. The average one-bedroom condo in the West End is selling for $533,694. That implies the sale of a single detached house would enable you to buy three one-bedroom condos in the West End,” he explained.

Eitel estimates that the average price of a West End condo is now down 21% from peak price in the neighbourhood, set in June 2018.

Here is the mid-February 2021 home sales data for the city of Vancouver, from the REBGV, as compiled by Dexter Associates.

On the westside of Vancouver, a total of 280 homes sold so far in February 2021 compared with 154 units sold at the same point in January 2021, and 167 at mid-month in February 2020. Total new listings so far in February are 497 compared with 426 at this point in January 2021 and 330 at this time in February 2020. Total active listings are at 1,963 compared with 1,737 at this time last year. The sales-to-listings ratio is now at 56% compared with 51% a year ago.

In Vancouver East, 197 units sold as of February 15, 2021, compared with 97 units sold so far at this time in January 2021 and 111 sold at mid-month in February 2020. Total active listings are at 872 compared with 767 at this time last year. The sales to listings ratio is at 71%, compared with 60% at February 15, 2020.

Skipworth cautions that the lack of listings compared to sales in most Greater Vancouver markets is setting up another round of price increases.

“While the number of new listings at mid-month in February are higher compared to January at mid-month, the increase so far has only been 19%, falling far behind the increase in sales at 79%,” he said, “Multiple offers are the norm and prices are rising as a result.”

Western Investor