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Victoria Real Estate Market Experiences a Burst of Activity

christiesA total of 671 properties sold in the Victoria Real Estate Board region this November, 12 per cent more than the 599 properties sold in November last year.

“We suggested last month that some buyers may accelerate their purchase timeline to buy a new home in anticipation of the mortgage stress test on uninsured buyers – those with a down payment of 20 per cent or more – that will come into effect on January 1,” says Victoria Real Estate Board President Ara Balabanian. “Judging by the sales we saw in November and what I have heard from our REALTOR® members, some buyers have indeed accelerated their purchasing plans to avoid the stress test. This may change the numbers we see in the early months of 2018, as some buyers who had planned to buy next year have bought a bit earlier.”

There were 1,764 active listings for sale on the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing Service® at the end of November 2017, a decrease of 7.4 per cent compared to the month of October and 2.8 per cent fewer than the 1,815 active listings for sale at the end of November 2016.

The Multiple Listing Service® Home Price Index benchmark value for a single family home in the Victoria Core in November 2016 was $748,500. The benchmark value for the same home in November 2017 has increased by 10.2 per cent to $824,600, which is slightly higher than October’s value of $821,900.

“So was this November a record breaker?” asks President Balabanian. “While not a record, it is the highest November sales count we’ve tracked since 1996. It is also rare that we see November numbers beat October numbers. The fact that we’ve had an unusual month does not necessarily mean that this is the start of a new trend, it is however, a good example of how outside forces can impact a housing market. It’s likely there will be more government-led change in the new year and we’ll report on the effects of those changes on the market. Our hope is that the different levels of government coordinate their efforts to avoid a negative compounding effect on the market.”

About the Victoria Real Estate Board – Founded in 1921, the Victoria Real Estate Board is a key player in the development of standards and innovative programs to enhance the professionalism of Realtors. The Victoria Real Estate Board represents 1,375 local Realtors. If you are thinking about buying or selling a home, connect with your local Realtor for detailed information on the Victoria and area housing market.

View our press release and summary here.
View our complete statistical package here.

Victoria Real Estate Market Changes Tempo for Autumn

A total of 640 properties sold in the Victoria Real Estate Board region this September, 18.1 per cent fewer than the 781 properties sold in September last year.

“We can certainly feel the difference in the current market when we compare to last year’s record breaking numbers. Last year the pace of the market was intense, thshutterstock_112589048ere was a lot of pressure on pricing and demand,” notes Victoria Real Estate Board President Ara Balabanian. “Now the tempo of the market is trending slowly – very slowly – towards more balanced conditions. Recently we’ve seen overall price increases level out, which can indicate slightly less demand, and inventory is building.”

There were 1,976 active listings for sale on the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing Service® at the end of September 2017, an increase of 3.1 per cent compared to the month of August and 4.1 per cent fewer than the 2,061 active listings for sale at the end of September 2016.

The Multiple Listing Service® Home Price Index benchmark value for a single family home in the Victoria Core in September 2016 was $742,200. The benchmark value for the same home in September 2017 has increased by 10.9 per cent to $823,100.

“Simply because we’ve seen sales drop from last year is not dire or unexpected news for our local real estate market.” adds President Balabanian. “The ten year average for sales in September is 573 properties and the month exceeded that average by more than ten per cent, which indicates we’re still in an active market. And of course there are neighbourhoods that are still tracking up in terms of value from last year. It’s for reasons like these that now more than ever it makes sense to seek the assistance of a local REALTOR® to sell or buy your home.”

About the Victoria Real Estate Board – Founded in 1921, the Victoria Real Estate Board is a key player in the development of standards and innovative programs to enhance the professionalism of Realtors. The Victoria Real Estate Board represents 1,369 local Realtors. If you are thinking about buying or selling a home, connect with your local Realtor for detailed information on the Victoria and area housing market.

View our press release and summary here.
View our complete statistical package here.

Victoria Real Estate Market Statistics for August 2017

stock_photo_16167348_saxe_point_park_esquimalt_benchA total of 736 properties sold in the Victoria Real Estate Board region this August, 16.6 per cent fewer than the 883 properties sold in August last year.

“I admit to being a little surprised by the August numbers,” notes Victoria Real Estate Board President Ara Balabanian. “I expected inventory numbers to be climbing by now, but instead we’ve seen even lower numbers of listings on the market. This is likely leading to some buyer fatigue along with pressure on pricing in high demand areas.”

There were 1,917 active listings for sale on the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing Service® at the end of August 2017, a decrease of four properties compared to the month of July, and 8.5 per cent fewer than the 2,094 active listings for sale at the end of August 2016.

The Multiple Listing Service® Home Price Index benchmark value for a single family home in the Victoria Core in August 2016 was $743,200. The benchmark value for the same home in August 2017 has increased by 10.8 per cent to $823,100.

“Though much too early to call a trend, we do see that the August HPI benchmark value for single family homes in the Victoria Core area has decreased by 1.3 per cent when compared to July. This is the first time we’ve noted a decrease in HPI values since August 2015.” adds President Balabanian.  “That said, this is not an indicator of a huge change in property values across our region. We’ve seen a phenomenally busy two years in real estate for our area and we are likely heading towards a period of more balanced activity. Note too, that though the overall HPI value shows a small month over month decrease – specific areas and specific types of product have seen increases. For example, condominiums across the entire region are up by half a percent compared to the previous month and single family homes in North Saanich have increased in benchmark value by almost one per cent. It’s for reasons like these that now more than ever it makes sense to seek the assistance of a local REALTOR®  to sell or buy your home.”

View our press release and summary here.
View our complete statistical package here.

Victoria Real Estate Market Continues Trend of Low Inventory, High Demand

April 2, 2017 –  A total of 929 properties sold in the Victoria Real Estate Board region this March, 17.1 per cent fewer than the 1,121 properties sold in March last year.spring

“We predicted early in the year that we wouldn’t see a continuation of the record sales numbers that we saw in 2016,” says 2017 Board President Ara Balabanian.  “However, we are still in a very active market, as evidenced by the fact that this is second highest March on record if you remove that record breaking 2016 data. We saw nearly 200 more transactions last month than March 2015, when 734 properties sold.”

The Multiple Listing Service® Home Price Index benchmark value for a single family home in the Victoria Core in March 2016 was $663,300. The benchmark value for the same home in March 2017 has increased by 19.1 per cent to $790,100.

Inventory levels edged lower, with 1,556 active listings for sale on the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing Service® at the end of March 2017, 40.6 per cent fewer than the 2,618 active listings for sale at the end of March 2016.

“The public and REALTORS® are getting used to the new tempo of the market – with the ongoing historically low inventory levels and high consumer demand – both parties need to be tenacious and have quick reflexes. Sellers need to ensure they have assistance from an experienced local Realtor to help understand current demand and pricing. Even in this market, properties can sit unsold for months without selling because of an inappropriate price,” adds President Balabanian. “We do think we will see a more balanced market in the future as more inventory becomes available. Traditionally, people prefer to list their home when gardens and outdoor areas can be shown to their best advantage. Hopefully, as our warmer weather arrives we will see more listings added into the market to offer more choice for buyers.”

About the Victoria Real Estate Board – Founded in 1921, the Victoria Real Estate Board is a key player in the development of standards and innovative programs to enhance the professionalism of REALTORS®. The Victoria Real Estate Board represents 1,350 local Realtors. If you are thinking about buying or selling a home, connect with your local Realtor for detailed information on the Victoria and area housing market.

View our press release and summary here.

View our complete statistical package here.

Victoria Real Estate Market Starts the Year with Fewer Listings and Above Average Activity

sales-upA total of 478 properties sold in the Victoria Real Estate Board region this January, 11.3 per cent fewer than the 539 properties sold in January last year.

Inventory levels edged lower, with 1,516 active listings for sale on the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing Service® at the end of January 2017, 38.6 per cent fewer than the 2,471 active listings at the end of January 2016.

“The numbers we saw last year are not the new normal. We know that we are not going to see sales volumes this year that meet or beat last year’s record breaking numbers,” notes 2017 Board President Ara Balabanian. “When compared to the month of January’s ten year average, which is 384 transactions, sales in January 2017 are nearly 25 per cent higher than average. The least active January we saw in the past ten years was in 2009 with 247 sales, and the most active was last year.”

The Multiple Listing Service® Home Price Index benchmark value for a single family home in the Victoria Core in January 2016 was $616,700. The benchmark value for the same home in January 2017 has increased by 24.4 per cent to $767,000.

“It’s early in the year to make predictions,” adds President Balabanian. “Over the last few decades, the historic cycle in Victoria is longer periods of stable activity and price followed by a rapid rise in activity and property values over a relatively short period of time. The coming months will provide us with a better idea of where we are in this cycle.”

About the Victoria Real Estate Board – Founded in 1921, the Victoria Real Estate Board is a key player in the development of standards and innovative programs to enhance the professionalism of REALTORS®. The Victoria Real Estate Board represents 1,327 local Realtors. If you are thinking about buying or selling a home, connect with your local Realtor for detailed information on the Victoria and area housing market.

View our press release and summary here.

View our complete statistical package here.

High Demand Continues as Inventory Shrinks in the Victoria Housing Market

sales-upA total of 599 properties sold in the Victoria Real Estate Board region this November, 4.5 per cent more than the 573 properties sold in November last year.

Inventory levels remain lower than last year, with 1,815 active listings for sale on the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing Service® at the end of November 2016, 38.5 per cent fewer than the 2,952 active listings at the end of November 2015.

“Our current housing market is in a strong cycle due to many factors, including our current positive economic conditions, baby boomers retiring here, millennial buying cycles, a low Canadian dollar keeping folks closer to home and our favourable living conditions,” notes Mike Nugent, 2016 President of the Board. “These factors and others, in combination with ongoing low inventory mean demand for housing is up, particularly in those areas close to the core and amenities.”

The Multiple Listing Service® Home Price Index benchmark value for a single family home in the Victoria Core in November 2015 was $608,600. The benchmark value for the same home in November 2016 has increased by 23.9 per cent to $753,800.

“Foreign buyers are another factor that affects our local housing market. The provincial government is considering implementation of a local tax on foreign buyers to ensure pressure on pricing from that source remains mitigated,” adds President Nugent. “While October data shows an increase in foreign buyers into the Capital Regional District compared to previous months, their 6.3 per cent of property transfers indicate that these buyers are one factor in the marketplace. A much larger factor affecting affordability and availability right now is the lack of inventory. An effective method to address housing affordability issues could be through efforts to increase the supply of housing, either through adjustments to zoning or density.”

About the Victoria Real Estate Board – Founded in 1921, the Victoria Real Estate Board is a key player in the development of standards and innovative programs to enhance the professionalism of REALTORS®. The Victoria Real Estate Board represents 1,320 local Realtors. If you are thinking about buying or selling a home, connect with your local Realtor for detailed information on the Victoria and area housing market.
View our press release and summary here.

View our complete statistical package here.

Competitive Housing Market in Victoria Continues as Inventory Remains Low

home-sold-sign-winterA total of 735 properties sold in the Victoria Real Estate Board region this October, a single property more than the 734 properties sold in October last year.

Inventory levels remain lower than last year, with 1,938 active listings for sale on the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing Service® at the end of October 2016, 38.9 per cent fewer than the 3,170 active listings at the end of October 2015.

“We continue to see low inventory hindering sales in the local market,” notes Mike Nugent, 2016 President of the Board. “Though our numbers are down from the record setting pace set this summer, the market is still moving quickly and is still very competitive for certain properties. High demand areas like Saanich and Oak Bay continue to see multiple offers and areas in the West Shore are also seeing sales over listed prices. In other areas, prices remain firm because of high demand and extremely limited inventory.”

The Multiple Listing Service® Home Price Index benchmark value for a single family home in the Victoria Core in October 2015 was $608,200. The benchmark value for the same home in October 2016 has increased by 24.1 per cent to $755,000.

“The federal government’s change to mortgage lending rules has also impacted buyers,” adds President Nugent. “Buyers that require mortgage insurance are able to qualify for significantly smaller mortgages than before the rule change and this is further limiting their options in a very restricted market. Some buyers have postponed their search in order to save up more of a down payment so they can work within these new limitations.”

About VREB – Founded in 1921, the Victoria Real Estate Board is a key player in the development of standards and innovative programs to enhance the professionalism of REALTORS®. The Victoria Real Estate Board represents 1,305 local Realtors. If you are thinking about buying or selling a home, connect with your local Realtor for detailed information on the Victoria and area housing market.

View our press release and summary here.

View our complete statistical package here.

Should You Stress About the Stress Test? What you should know about new mortgage rules.

On October 3rd, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced that new mortgage rules will include more stringent “stress testing” for borrowers. The new rules are designed to lower debt levels, enforce some belt-tightening, and protect the housing market over the long term. Here’s how these new rules will affect Canadians.
THE HIGH-RATIO RULE

There has been a long-time rule that you must have “high-ratio mortgage insurance” if you have less than 20% downpayment. This insuran2666_3dcanada2ce is there to protect the lender, and the premium is almost always added to your mortgage amount.

What’s changed? If you require an insured mortgage, you must qualify for your mortgage using the Bank of Canada qualifying rate (currently 4.64%) regardless of what your actual mortgage rate will be.

That means that – although I can find you a much better mortgage rate – you’d still need to show you can handle the mortgage using the qualifying rate. This financial “stress test” was already applicable for fixed and variable mortgages with terms of 1 to 4 years. Now, it also applies to fixed-rate mortgages of 5 years or longer.

Why the new rule? The government wants to be sure that borrowers can withstand any increases in mortgage rates when their mortgages come up for renewal.

Will my payments be higher? No. Your payments will still be based on your much lower actual mortgage contract rate. Keep in mind that mortgage rates are expected to stay at record lows into 2020. So this new rule isn’t costing you more. The potential change will be in how much mortgage you will qualify for: up to 20% less. You may need to plan on purchasing a less expensive home, or save up a larger downpayment, or ensure you eliminate all or most of your other debts.

Are any loans grandfathered? The new mortgage stress test does not apply when:

A mortgage loan insurance application was received before October 17, 2016;
The lender made a legally binding commitment to make the loan before October 17, 2016; or
The borrower entered into a legally binding agreement of purchase and sale for the property against which the loan was secured before October 17, 2016.

THE CONVENTIONAL MORTGAGE RULE

Maybe you have more than 20% down or equity in your home and you are planning to purchase, renew or refinance. Since you have strong equity, you aren’t considered a “high-ratio” borrower.

What’s changed? Effective November 30th, any mortgage loans that lenders insure using portfolio insurance must now meet eligibility criteria applicable to “high ratio” mortgages, including the new qualifying stress test. This means that rental properties, properties over $1 million, and mortgages with an amortization greater than 25 years will no longer be eligible for portfolio insurance.

Does this mean I will have trouble getting a mortgage? Certainly not. The change will only affect certain lenders that insure or securitize these types of mortgages. I have access to a wide range of lenders, which means I can help you find the best mortgage for your situation. But if you are thinking of refinancing, get in touch now just to be sure you lock in a low rate.
THE CAPITAL GAINS REPORTING RULE

Canadians love the capital gains exemption they get on their primary residence: if your home grows in value, you aren’t taxed on that growth when you sell.

What’s changed? Starting this tax year, the sale of a primary residence must be reported at tax time to the Canada Revenue Agency, even though all capital gains are still tax exempt.

Why? This new rule was designed to prevent foreign property purchasers from claiming a primary residence tax exemption to which they are not entitled.
Although there are definite regional variations, the Canadian housing market is strong. A good part of the reason for that strength is that we have had stringent mortgage requirements. Mortgage defaults in Canada continue to be very low: in spite of the ups and downs of the economy.

The new rules are aimed at ensuring home ownership continues to be a solid, long-term investment. Give me a call: I’ll help ensure you make the most of it!

Victoria Property Sales Continue Record Breaking Pace

A total of 883 properties sold in the Victoria Real Estate Board region this August, an increase of 19.2 per cent compared to the 741 properties sold in August last year.istock_000013207079medium

“August is a record breaker in more than one way. For the sixth consecutive month, we have a sales record with more sales than any other month of August on record,” says Mike Nugent, 2016 President of the Board. “We also have the lowest number of listings available for sale in an August than we’ve seen in the last twenty years. That lack of inventory will continue to put pressure on pricing. Sales would be even higher were there more inventory available for buyers to purchase. Regardless of the low inventory, it’s safe to say that by mid-September we will have surpassed the number of sales for all of 2015, with four months remaining in the year.”

Inventory levels remain lower than last year, with 2,094 active listings for sale on the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing Service® at the end of August 2016, 43.2 per cent fewer than the 3,688 active listings at the end of August 2015.

“As we saw last month, the expected seasonal slowdown continues as we move towards the autumn,” adds Nugent.  “August tends to be the slower summer month, though the year-over-year sales numbers are very strong. This shows continued consumer confidence in the Victoria real estate market. It is early to determine a trend, but we don’t see any early indications that the foreign investment Property Transfer Tax implemented in Metro Vancouver has impacted sales to any extent in Victoria at this time.”

The Multiple Listing Service® Home Price Index benchmark value for a single family home in the Victoria Core in August, 2015 was $603,200. The benchmark value for the same home in August 2016 has increased by 23.8 per cent to $746,900

About VREB – Founded in 1921, the Victoria Real Estate Board is a key player in the development of standards and innovative programs to enhance the professionalism of REALTORS®. The Victoria Real Estate Board represents 1,283 local Realtors. If you are thinking about buying or selling a home, connect with your local Realtor for detailed information on the Victoria and area housing market.

View our press release and summary here.

View our complete statistical package here.

April Property Sales in Victoria Continue to Exceed Expectations

istock_000005748698smallA total of 1,286 properties sold in the Victoria Real Estate Board region this April, an increase of 53 per cent compared to the 840 properties sold in the same month last year.

Inventory levels remain lower than the previous year, with 2,594 active listings for sale on the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing Service® at the end of April, 34 per cent fewer than the 3,945 active listings at the end of April 2015.

“We continue to see extraordinary interest in the Victoria and area housing market. Likely this is because the trends we reviewed last month continue – low mortgage rates, higher employment numbers, diversity of properties for sale and of course the growing international awareness that Victoria is an amazing place to live,” notes Mike Nugent, 2016 President of the Board. “The vast majority of Victoria buyers are from within the local Victoria marketplace. Last year 70.5 per cent of buyers were from Victoria, and this year in the first quarter we see 72.5 per cent of buyers from the area. We’ve also tracked a slight increase in Lower Mainland buyers. Reports from the first quarter of 2016 show that 8.2 per cent of buyers are from the Lower Mainland, and last year we counted 7.4 per cent.  It’s also noteworthy that we’ve seen a decrease in buyers from Alberta (last year we saw 5.7 per cent, this quarter we saw 3.9 per cent), a small increase in buyers from the US (from 0.8 per cent to 1 per cent) and an increase in buyers from Asia (from 0.7 per cent to 0.8 per cent this quarter).”

The Multiple Listing Service® Home Price Index benchmark value for a single family home in the Victoria Core in April, 2015 was $581,700. The benchmark value for the same home in April 2016 has increased by 17.7 per cent to $684,900.

“If you are shopping for a home right now, there is a good chance that if you’re looking in a higher demand area (Victoria core, Saanich, Oak Bay) you may find yourself in a multiple offer situation when you go to purchase. This is because there are more buyers than homes for sale and so the market is more competitive than we’ve seen in years past,” adds Nugent. “As a consumer it may pay to get creative, consider types of property and locations you may have not originally identified. For example, condos and townhomes may be a great alternative for first time buyers. Some locations in the Victoria area are under slightly less pricing pressure, for example properties in the West Shore or Esquimalt area are close to amenities, share the same amazing weather as other nearby neighbourhoods. Working with a REALTOR® to create a purchase strategy will put you ahead of the game, and ensure you end up with the right property for you.”

About VREB – Founded in 1921, the Victoria Real Estate Board is a key player in the development of standards and innovative programs to enhance the professionalism of Realtors. The Victoria Real Estate Board represents over 1,200 local Realtors. If you are thinking about buying or selling a home, connect with your local Realtor for detailed information on the Victoria and area housing market.

View our press release and summary here.

View our complete statistical package here.