Moving boxes in new house. Real estate concept.
© Kurhan / 123RF Stock Photo

The local real estate board says the benchmark price of a detached home in Metro Vancouver fell nearly 10% year over year as more sellers listed properties, but house hunters continued to take their time in February.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says nearly 28% fewer detached properties sold last month compared with February 2018, and the benchmark price dropped 9.7% to $1,443,100.

Across all residential property types, sales dropped 32.8% compared with a year ago and were 42.5% below the 10-year February sales average.

The benchmark price for all residential properties fell 6.1% to $1,016,600 over the same time frame, with condominium prices down 4% to $660,300 and townhomes down 3.3% to $789,300.

The board says sales for apartments fell nearly 36% in February 2019 compared with the same month in 2018, and townhome sales declined nearly 31%.

There were just shy of 3,900 new residential property listings last month—down 7.8% compared with the same month the previous year—and the sales-to-active listings ratio for the month was 12.8%.

The board says there is typically downward pressure on property prices when that ratio falls below 12% “for a sustained period.”

Action on housing

Housing is expected to be a key campaign issue ahead of October’s federal election.

In January, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the government was looking at multiple things to help with affordable housing for millennials, but he didn’t elaborate.

In a report, RBC takes issue with the notion that Canada has a homeownership problem—even among younger Canadians.

“On average, more than 40% of Canadian households under 35 years of age own their own homes,” says the RBC report. “And the proportion of all Canadian households who own a home is one of the highest among advanced economies.”

Even Canadian cities with the least affordable markets, like Vancouver and Toronto, rank near the top globally in homeownership, it says. For example, Vancouver’s ownership rate is about double that of Paris.

Further, Canada’s ownership rate among millennials remains historically high, and is high relative to other countries, including the U.S. For example, Canada’s ownership rate for those aged 35 and under was about 43% in 2016; the U.S. rate was 34.5%.

Still, the percentage of Canadian homeowners among households aged 35 and under has declined from about 47% in 2011.

To address the decline, RBC stresses treating the problem’s source: supply.

“What millennials in Vancouver and Toronto really need is more inventory of homes they can afford, and a better mix of housing options—be it to own or rent,” the report says. “Solving the supply issue isn’t the federal government’s responsibility alone
but requires a concerted effort across all levels of government.”

A good start would be removing regulatory and administrative barriers that inhibit developers and builders, it says.

For full details, read the RBC report.