Island-wide prices steady, but sales plummet

Housing sales activity across Vancouver Island dropped 17 per cent compared to last year

Housing sales activity across Vancouver Island dropped 17 per cent compared to last year while average sale prices climbed four per cent according to MLS sales data for December released by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB).

The good news is the average price of a single family home sold within the VIREB region in December was $326,541 up from the December 2011 average price of $315,239.

However, the number of reported unit sales was down last month when compared to a year ago. In December 2011 there were 182 single family homes sold, in comparison 151 sales were recorded in December 2012. Cumulatively during 2012 a total of 3,585 single family homes were sold across the VIREB coverage area – down approximately six per cent from 2011 when 3,807 homes were sold.

The Nanaimo region reported the largest number of sales last year with 1,017 units sold in 2012.

The average sale price of a home sold during 2012 in the VIREB area was $332,347, down three per cent from the 2011 board wide average price of $341,537. And, the Port Alberni / West Coast region recorded the largest drop, eight per cent, for a median price of $197,000.

“Overall market activity is reflecting tighter credit conditions as well as some fence sitting by potential buyers,” says BCREA Chief Economist Cameron Muir. “With relatively stable prices expected in 2013 some purchases that were delayed last year are expected to translate into tangible transactions this year.”

As of the end of December 2012 there were 2,010 single family homes available on the MLS within VIREB’s coverage area, almost identical from the 2,016 homes in the system at the end of December 2011.  VIREB President Guy Bezeau says: “I think that compared to other regions of the province Vancouver Island has been weathering the storm pretty well.

“There is some pretty consistent pricing occurring with only a three per cent annual average reduction when comparing 2012 to 2011.

“Even comparing unit sales from one year to the next there is only a six per cent decrease year to year which is a relatively minor fluctuation. Moving forward into the New Year I expect to see a little more movement in terms of sales activity.”

Comparing December 2012 to December 2011, the average sale prices across VIREB’s six zones saw Campbell River dip one per cent to $267,960, the Comox Valley edge downward an identical one per cent to $360,030, Nanaimo’s average sales price increase five per cent to $350,458 from the December 2011 average price of $332,400, and Port Alberni/West Coast climb 14 per cent to $201,987.

In terms of unit sales year to year there continued to be large differences between the individual zones last month.

Housing sales activity in the Campbell River region was down four per cent last month as compared to December 2011.

Port Alberni / West Coast recorded a 42 per cent drop in unit sales while the Comox Valley region’s unit sales increased 11 per cent compared to December 2011. Nanaimo’s sales were down 25 per cent.