Photo: Kyle Ryan / Unsplash

Vancouver home sales rose in the first 15 days of June when compared to the same period in 2019.

This is the first time sales have increased relative to 2019 totals since the first half of March, before the pandemic took hold and froze up the Vancouver region’s housing market.

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There were 1,064 home sales in the Greater Vancouver Area in the first half of June, according to MLS data published Wednesday by Dexter Realty Managing Partner Kevin Skipworth. That’s up a modest one percent compared to the same period in 2019 and 55 percent over the first half of May 2020.

While the year-over-year rise in sales may sound paltry, especially when considering 2019 was already a below average year for Vancouver home sales, Skipworth believes the momentum is a positive signal for the market.

“Home sales in Greater Vancouver are ahead of where they were at this time last year in June – marginally, but ahead,” wrote Skipworth in an email on Wednesday.

“Considering where we’ve been, that’s a positive step in the real estate market and a sign of how much pent up demand and supply exists. Since the middle of May, the market has shown more activity and June is carrying on with that theme,” he added.

New listings also picked up in June’s first half over the same time in 2019, with 3,043 homes listed compared to 2,651 last year. Skipworth noted, however, that total active listings in Greater Vancouver were still significantly below where they stood last year, 11,555 by mid-June compared to 15,697 at the same point in 2019.

Vancouver’s housing market was considered a buyer’s market through 2019, with the number of active listings on the market easily meeting demand to give buyer’s the upper hand in transactions. This dynamic shifted in early 2020 as supply fell and demand began rising. But, as the pandemic’s effects wear on and supply begins to rise, this trend is expected to flip once again.

While the shift to a buyer’s market is playing out at the national level, RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue expects Vancouver will see buyers in control earlier than other markets.

“We expect the increase in [housing] supply to tip the scale in favour of buyers in many markets across Canada, some sooner than others. Vancouver and other BC markets, for example, could see buyers calling the shots as early as this summer,” wrote Hogue.

But regardless of who’s calling the shots in the market, Skipworth struck an optimistic tone about Vancouver’s real estate recovery as the province continues its reopening effort.

“With the economy continuing to open, continued record low interest rates and homeowners re-evaluating the homes they live in, there are strong fundamentals in the real estate market – even with the pandemic still gripping us,” he wrote.

“With Phase 3 of the British Columbia’s Restart Plan shifting into gear, there is more optimism within the province which will aid in an improving real estate market,” Skipworth added.

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