cities lead the way
B.C. home sales recorded through the Multiple Listing Service in the first eight months of the year exceeded the number of sales recorded during the same period in 2008, the B.C. Real Estate Association reported Friday.
That came as a result of strong sales in August. During that month, 8,565 units changed hands through MLS, 66 per cent more than the number of sales across the province in the same month a year ago.
And in total, B.C. saw 54,945 homes sold by Aug. 31, some 0.6 per cent higher than the 54,635 homes sold during the same period in 2008.
Sales results, however, have been uneven as the province's resource dependent-regions, which have been more deeply bit by the recession, haven't fared as well as the Lower Mainland and Victoria.
"Every region has shown improvement since the beginning of the year," Cameron Muir, chief economist for the B.C. Real Estate Association, said in an interview.
"But when you look at the South Coast and Victoria, you see a sharp upturn. In the Interior or north, it's more of a gradual increase in terms of market conditions."
And in the Lower Mainland and Victoria, the markets have experienced greater price stabilization, which helped raise B.C.'s average home price in August 12 per cent to $471,078, compared with $421,685 a year ago.
Muir added that current year-over-year comparisons pit this year's sales rebound against the beginning of last year's precipitous decline in sales, so "you're going to see some wild swings."
And while current sales are driven by the pent-up demand of buyers who sat out the market decline of last fall and winter, but are now jumping back in to take advantage of historically low mortgage interest rates and lower prices, he doesn't expect the rebound to continue as strongly.
"Record-setting levels are unlikely, given the economy is crawling out of recession and full recovery of the B.C. economy is still some distance away," Muir said.
Still, Muir said the recovery B.C. has seen in real estate sales is a positive sign of growing consumer confidence and evidence that the household financial conditions of buyers are "in relatively good shape."
"The expectation is that typically in a recession, consumers are the first out of the gate [to start spending] to signal that [economic] recovery is soon to follow," he added.
However, eight of province's 12 real estate boards, reported sales down from the same period a year ago.
The Northern Lights district of B.C.'s northeast saw the biggest decline in sales, with 41 per cent fewer transactions in August and 38 per cent fewer for the year as of Aug. 31.