Despite ongoing concerns about COVID-19, the local real estate market experienced an all-time high in August.
According to figures from the Victoria Real Estate Board, 979 properties sold in VREB’s region, up 48.1 per cent compared to August 2019. According to Leo Spalteholz, a local realtor who runs househuntvictoria.ca, an analysis site, this figure represents an “all time record for the month.”
Single, detached homes led the way with 509 sold (up 45 per cent from August 2019), followed by condominiums with 262 units sold (up 29.1 per cent from August 2019).
For Spalteholz, these August figures mean that “market activity in Greater Victoria has recovered substantially from the impact” of COVID-19 with single family homes in a strong sellers market with sales high. But he balances this assessment with a caveat. COVID-19 has simply shifted sales from the spring into the summer with long-term uncertainty persisting.
Uncertainty also echos through the comments of Sandi-Jo Ayers, VREB’s president. August may have been a very active month in terms of sales, but hardly a harbinger of things. “(Once) again I will note that this is not a trend, but that this is our market at this moment in time during a unique situation,” she said. “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.”
While the pace of the summer market has surprised realtors, they are also “grappling with the evolving socio-economic effects” of the pandemic and how they might influence the fall real estate market.
One central factor is the state of interest rates. Already low, many experts predict they will remain low, even drop, as countries around the world look to stimulate their economies.
Another factor concerns ongoing levels of income support. Spalteholz does not foresee a hard drop in incomes among Canadians.
Finally, the phase-out of mortgage deferrals may also force some current homeowners to list their properties. While Spalteholz does not foresee a ‘wave of foreclosures in the fall,” most owners in trouble would be better off trying to list their properties on the open market first. “With prices stable or up since pre-pandemic so far, that may be a quick way to get out from an unmanageable debt,” he added.
Inventory, in other words, might be on the rise. As Spalteholz wrote in June, “(who) knew that it would take a global pandemic and an 18 effective unemployment in Victoria to bring average (detached) house prices to a million dollars?”
This surge has somewhat slowed with the average for a detached single-family home in VREB’s area has just a shade below $1 million – $998,291 to be exact – down 2.3 per cent compared to July, but up 15.8 per cent compared to August 2019. This said, the average price for a single family home in Greater Victoria (that is not counting the other areas that are part of VREB) remains above $1 million.
Oak Bay remains the most expensive area with a benchmark price for a single home at $1.213 million, followed by Metchosin ($984,100) and North Saanich ($983,400), which tops all communities on the Saanich Peninsula with Central Saanich ($816,100) ahead of Sidney ($698,500).
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