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BC real estate hottest since Nov 2005

VANCOUVER — B.C. home sales in November climbed 165 per cent over the same month last year to 7,182 units, the B.C. Real Estate Association (BCREA) reported Wednesday.

The month reflected the highest number of residential sales for November since 2005, when 7,721 units changed hands.

“Since the beginning of the year, we’ve seen a dramatic rebound in sales in the province, led by Greater Vancouver, Victoria and the Fraser Valley,” BCREA chief economist Cameron Muir said in an interview.

“It’s been driven by first-time buyers getting into the market due to increased affordability and low mortgage rates. A lot of it is because of the pent-up demand that welled up last fall and winter.”

Muir said the elevated sales level in November was largely regional.

“There’s a dichotomy in the province, [with] significant regional differences. There was a very strong seller’s market on the coast, with upward pressure on prices. But in the Okanagan and the Kootenays, the market is now just trending towards balanced conditions, meaning stabilized prices.

“Prices today [in Greater Vancouver, Victoria and the Fraser Valley] are beginning to scratch record levels, but certainly not elsewhere in the province.”

Muir also said that despite the high sales numbers, the BCREA expects consumer demand to moderate in the new year as pent-up demand is largely expended and higher costs erode affordability.

“Going forward, sales levels [in Greater Vancouver, Victoria and the Fraser Valley] will come off their lofty heights as pent-up demand is drawn down. In 2010, sales will more closely reflect the moderate recovery.”

According to a BCREA news release, the year-to-date MLS residential sales dollar volume increased 21 per cent to $36.8 billion over the same period last year. A total of 79,325 units were sold in the first eleven months of 2009, up 19 per cent from 2008, while the average price increased two per cent to $463,555.

Greater Vancouver saw a 252-per-cent increase in the number of units sold compared to November 2008, from 889 to 3,133; the Fraser Valley a 192-per-cent increase, from 483 to 1,409; the Okanagan Mainline a 104-per-cent increase, from 219 to 447; and Victoria a 165-per-cent increase, from 2,707 to 7,182.

bmorton@vancouversun.com

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