Toronto home prices spike-compressed

Photo: James Bombales

Where was Vancouver home sales activity heading in March before coronavirus-inspired fear and panic threw the market into uncertainty? The data was looking promising, according to Kevin Skipworth, Managing Partner at Dexter Realty.

Skipworth, who tracks home sales and listings at the midpoint of each month, distributed Vancouver activity totals as of March 15th earlier this week. He found that 1,378 homes were sold across the Greater Vancouver Area during the first 15 days of the month, up from 864 homes during the same period in 2019. That’s a 59 percent year-over-year increase and a 32.6 percent increase over the first half of February.

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Following a similar trend established through late 2019 and early 2020, total active listings in the resale market were also down in the first half of March when compared to the same time in 2019. This indicates a persistent tightening of market conditions, as demand ramped up without a corresponding increase in supply.

Of course, these trends are now likely relics of the past. Even when the pandemic’s tragic and disruptive effects inevitably alleviate and the market recovers, homebuyers and sellers will find themselves in a very different set of circumstances.

“I thought long and hard as to whether I’d report the sales activity for mid-March, thinking that this may not be relevant to all that is happening world wide,” Skipworth wrote in an email accompanying the sales data.

“Perhaps it isn’t, but this is what is happening in the real estate market and like the Covid-19 outbreak reporting, potentially relevant to those involved in buying or selling and trying to make decisions.”

So how will the pandemic impact the province’s housing market going forward?

“The correct answer is a rather unsatisfying ‘nobody knows,’” wrote British Columbia Real Estate Association Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson.

“Based on our scenario analysis, BC home sales and prices will likely face declines in the spring and early summer but should recover along with the wider economy in the second half of the year, contingent on the outbreak resolving,” Ogmundson wrote in a report published this week.

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