Summer real estate boom continues for Greater Victoria amid pandemic

The Greater Victoria real estate market continued a summer boom, as sales and prices spiked again amid the pandemic.

August data from the Victoria Real Estate Board’s Multiple Listing Service shows 979 properties changed hands during August, the exact number that sold in July. That’s 1,958 transactions over a two-month span, nearly 600 more than the 1,367 properties that sold over the same months a year ago.

“This is not a trend … this is our market at this moment in time during a unique situation,” Sandi-Jo Ayers, president of the real estate board, said in a statement Tuesday.

“It is a challenging time to define what is happening in the market given so many factors that don’t exist in a normal year.

“We have been surprised by the pace of the summer market and are grappling with the evolving socio-economic effects of the pandemic and how these underlying factors will influence our fall real estate market.”

The benchmark value for a single-family home in the Victoria core area‚ which includes Oak Bay, Saanich, Esquimalt and View Royal, jumped 4.7% to $889,200 in August compared to the same month last year. The average price, however, was slightly lower than this July’s value of $909,700.

The benchmark value for a condominium in the Victoria core was $513,900 in August. It slipped by 0.8% from a year ago and was down 3.2% from the July value of $530,800.

Price increases were higher in other areas.

The benchmark price for a single-family home on the West Shore hit $694,200, nearly 10 per cent higher than a year ago. The benchmark condominium price there is $418,900, up 5.8% from August a year ago.

Houses on the Peninsula were at $833,800, up 5.5% from last year, while condos were at $478,400, down slightly from July 2020 and from August a year ago.

The condominium market in the region saw a huge boost in sales last month, up 29% from August 2019, with 262 units sold.

There were 2,584 active listings for sale at the end of August 2020, 8.9% fewer properties than the total available at the end of August 2019 and a 2.6% decrease from the 2,653 active listings for sale at the end of July 2020.

“Our business has changed a lot in recent months,” said Ayers. “Realtors have adapted to health and safety requirements and much more technology is being leveraged to facilitate all aspects of the housing transaction.

“We can also see that though demand is up, there are fewer listings on the market, which increases demand on desirable properties even more. This is why we saw a lot of competition and multiple offers over the summer.”

Ayers is unsure if the trend will continue into the fall.

“That will depend on how much new inventory comes into the market and how our community continues to manage the impact of COVID-19,” she said. “This is an evolving and nuanced market.”

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board, representing all the areas north of the Malahat, reported 1,101 sales last month, a 39% increase from August 2019.

A total of 547 single-family homes (excluding acreage and waterfront) sold in August, a year-over-year increase of 35%. Sales of condo apartments rose by 43% year over year while townhouse sales increased by 19%.

Board president Kevin Reid said in a statement that the housing market rebounded from the COVID-19 downturn far more quickly than expected. Pent-up demand, low interest rates and persistent supply shortages are fueling the recovery, he said.

Active listings of single-family detached properties (excluding acreages and waterfront) totalled 1,081 in August, while there were 427 condo apartments and 221 row/townhouses for sale last month.

The benchmark price of a single-family home hit $533,300 in August, an increase of 3% from the previous year, but 2% lower than in July. The year-over-year benchmark price of a condo rose by 5%, hitting $312,000 but down marginally from July.

For the Malahat and area, the benchmark price of a single-family home last month was $610,200, a 7% increase from August 2019. In Campbell River, the benchmark price hit $455,600, up 2% over last year. In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price reached $537,300, up by 3% from one year ago. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $480,200, an increase of 1% from August 2019. Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose by 3% to $575,100, while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price increase by 3% to $608,300. The cost of a benchmark single-family home in Port Alberni reached $329,100, a 4% increase from one year ago. For the North Island, the benchmark price was $221,000, an 11% increase from last year.