The Vancouver housing market continued to blow its disappointing early year results out of the water with a strong finish to 2019.
There were 2,016 homes sold in the Greater Vancouver Area last month, an 88 percent spike over December 2018’s total and 9.5 percent higher than the 10-year sales average for the month.
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But according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), which released its December data today, the strength displayed by the market in the second half of the year was not enough to offset the sluggishness that characterized early 2019.
While the total number of homes sold through the year was up slightly from 2018’s total, 2019 remained a well below average year for the Vancouver housing market. The year’s 25,351 home sales came in significantly below the market peak in 2017, when 35,993 homes were sold across the region.
“Home buyer confidence was a factor throughout the year. In the first quarter, many prospective buyers were in a holding pattern, waiting to see how prices would react to the mortgage stress test, new taxes, and other policy changes,” said REBGV President Ashley Smith. “Confidence started to return in the summer, and we saw above average sales in the final quarter of 2019.”
This renewed buyer confidence is expected to continue into 2020, with sales activity projected to remain above long-term averages which will boost home prices. Vancouver prices posted steady declines in 2019 when compared to 2018 figures, but there are signs this trend is beginning to reverse. Prices for all major housing types tracked by REBGV (detached, condo apartment and attached) increased in December over the previous month.
Vancouver home buyers have had to contend with the most unaffordable housing market in Canada for years now. Even as prices declined through the last two years, the market remained extremely unaffordable for the average home buyer. With prices promising to continue their march upward again in 2020, it seems that even this modest reprieve for buyers is coming to an end.