Photo: Bon Bahar/Unsplash

You’d be right in thinking that a 46 percent rise in home sales sounds like a pretty eye-popping figure. But, when emerging from one of the worst housing slumps in years, that staggering sales increase only gets Vancouver housing market activity to what market experts consider to be “historically typical levels.”

Home sales in Metro Vancouver rose to 2,333 in September 2019, up from 1,595 homes sold in the same month a year ago, according to Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver data. Impressed? Don’t start celebrating just yet. Last month’s sales didn’t even manage to hit the 10-year sales average for September, a dependable gauge of market health. September 2019’s sales total squeaked in just 1.7 percent below the 10-year average.

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So here’s a strong hint as to why this is actually great news — in September 2018, Metro Vancouver home sales were 36 percent below the 10-year average.

That paints a much rosier backdrop for judging September’s “typical” performance, doesn’t it?

The context for all this of course is after years of booming sales and price increases, Metro Vancouver’s housing market endured a monumental collapse, primarily as a result of intervention from several levels of government meant to cool the market.

After slogging through a brutal fall and winter, the Vancouver market appeared to stabilize in the summer, leading market experts to celebrate a return to “normal.”

The good times are clearly continuing to roll, with market experts now rejoicing over the “typical” home sales activity observed in September, historically one of the busier months in the homebuying calendar.

“We’re seeing more balanced housing market conditions over the last three months compared to what we saw at this time last year. Home buyers are more willing to make offers today, particularly in the townhome and apartment markets,” writes Ashley Smith, President of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

The sales-to-active listings ratio for September 2019 was 17.4 percent across all property types. As you might guess, this widely cited measure looks at homes sold in a given period compared to homes listed on the market. When it’s below 12 percent, market experts say prices typically experience downward pressure. When it’s above 20 percent, prices often experience upward pressure. All that is to say, the September 2019 ratio falls within the balanced market sweet spot.

“This is a more comfortable market for people on both sides of a real estate transaction,” writes Smith. “Home sale and listing activity were both at typical levels for our region in September.”

Comfortable and typical aren’t generally the most exciting terms used to describe a real estate market, but there’s little doubt that it’s a better place to be than where Vancouver stood a year ago.

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