According to new data from the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA), as of the end of September, the Lower Mainland had had a total of 60,096 house sales in 2021.
This marks a remarkable 63 percent increase over the same time in 2020, indicating pent-up housing demand following the pandemic’s first downturn in 2020, as well as structural difficulties with housing affordability and supply in the Lower Mainland.
This includes 35,110 units sold so far in 2021 within the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver’s (REBGV) jurisdiction — a 63% increase from the 21,536 units in 2020. For the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB), which includes Metro Vancouver’s eastern and southern cities of Surrey, Langley, Delta, and White Rock, a total of 21,091 units were sold this year as of the end of third quarter, which is a 67% year-over-year increase from the 12,616 units last year.
The Chilliwack Real Estate Board also saw a year-over-year growth of 56% to 3,895 units.
Low interest rates and high demand from urban dwellers seeking larger and more affordable home options on the outskirts of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley propelled average home prices up by 25% year over year in both FVREB and Chilliwack, reaching averages of $798,000 and $566,000, respectively.
The rate of increase inside REBGV was slower, at 11.5 percent year over year, with an average of $1.055 million.
In the first nine months of this year, 99,182 homes were sold across the province, up 52 percent over the same period last year.
“Even with total demand now currently trending toward historically average levels, we estimate that the provincial market would have needed to roughly double the number of active listings available over the course of the pandemic to meet the surge in demand and keep prices flat over the period,” says the report.
“The imbalance between supply and demand was even more pronounced in regions of the province experiencing significant relocation demand. Whether due to remote work opportunities, a pandemic-induced desire for space, or accelerated retirement plans, buyers flooded into markets on Vancouver Island, the Fraser Valley and the Okanagan, overwhelming limited supply and causing significant price increases.”
The housing market’s heightened activity peaked in March 2021, when an estimated 67,000 potential buyers searched for homes across BC, despite only 24,000 listings being available at the time.
In certain months, buyers outpaced sellers in the Fraser Valley by more than seven to one, and nearly three to one across the province.
Conditions have subsequently stabilized, but supply issues continue to be a problem, driving up prices. The number of active listings in August 2021 in the four main regions ranged from 50% to 80% of the amount in January 2019 in the same region.
According to BCREA, all levels of government must work together to develop a coordinated plan that encourages municipalities to significantly enhance their new home supply targets.
In September 2021, a total of 9,164 home sales were registered across BC, a 20% decrease from the same month in 2020 but still significantly higher than the long-term average. However, the average price increased by 14% year over year to $913,471.