'Going to ignite prices': Vancouver home sales jump 88 per cent in December

Vancouver downtown view from Queen Elizabeth Park
Vancouver downtown view from Queen Elizabeth Park

Vancouver home sales shot up 88 per cent in December compared to the same period in 2018.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports 2,016 homes changed hands — 9.5 per cent above the 10-year average.

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November was also a strong month, with 2,498 homes sold. The surge to cap 2019 flies in the face of typical seasonal patterns since spring is usually the busiest buying season. But sales and prices fell during the first half of the year.

Steve Saretsky, realtor and author of real estate blog Vancity Condo Guide, says “the market is still trying to figure itself out.”

“The low end more affordable market is seeing lots of activity as locals compete over a dwindling supply of ‘affordable product’ while the high end of the market remains soft,” he told Yahoo Finance Canada.

“Foreign investment remains a fraction of what it was.”

He says he expects the trend to spill over into 2020.

Prices poised to pop

Paul Kershaw, UBC professor and founder of Generation Squeeze, sees real warning signs on the horizon.

“The data from the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board show signs that the market is once again going to ignite prices,” he told Yahoo Finance Canada.

“Any increase in prices now only exacerbates the deep, deep affordability problems that hollow out the quality of life in this region for so many – while simultaneously making those who got into the market some time ago richer and richer.”

Still a down year

Despite the year-end rally, the average price is down 3.1 per cent compared to December 2018 to a still lofty $1,001,000. Kershaw says the drop offers a very small opportunity to bring wages closer in line with home prices. 

 “The declines also reduce very slightly the time it takes for a typical young earner to save a 20% down payment on an average-priced home in the region from 29 years to more like 28 years,” said Kershaw.

“But that is little comfort for the typical young person today when you consider it only took 5-6 years in the region when my mom started out as a young adult.”

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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