Seasonal lull in real estate sales

Housing sales declined by 24 per cent in December, with 459 sales posted to the MLS.

Housing sales from Revelstoke to Peachland declined by 24 per cent in December, with 459 sales posted to the MLS.

“Outside of a couple of variances, the market is doing what it generally does this time of year,” said OMREB President Tanis Read, in a press release. “Sales and listing volumes were both on-trend for this time of year, but, interestingly, average price and days on market bounced back from November.”

New listings were 465, down 65 per cent from November, but relatively consistent with this time last year, when new listings were 407. Average price, however, rose 3.5 per cent over November and 12 per cent over a year ago. Also of note was the days on market, which declined to 79 from last month’s 132 and last year’s 91.

“Higher average price can often reflect the composition of product sold over the course of the month,” said Read. “But coupled with the fewer days on market, it may also suggest a continued lag in resale product availability, potentially coupled with consumers possibly looking to lock in purchases before new mortgage rules take effect in January.”

Effective Jan. 1, new federal mortgage tightening rules require borrowers with a down payment of 20 per cent or more to face a stress test when renewing or refinancing a mortgage to prove they can cope with the risk of higher interest rates.

“The seventh round of rule tightening by Canada’s federal financial regulator since 2008, these new rules impact both those seeking a mortgage as well as those refinancing their mortgage,” said Read. “The impact may be that those now in the market for a home may have to settle for a less expensive home or wait and save up for a larger down payment.”

Taking a look at buyers of homes in the region, the results of which lag the market stats by one month, OMREB found the majority continued to be from within the board region at 54 per cent, with Lower Mainland/Vancouver Island buyers well-represented at 21 per cent up 17 per cent from October. Buyers from Alberta were at 8.5 per cent and those from outside Canada were a relatively small percentage at three per cent.

Consistent with previous months, those relocating and moving to similar property types, first-time buyers and move-up buyers were all within points of each other at 21 per cent, 19 per cent and 19 per cent respectively. Likewise, two-parent families with children and couples without children were close at 29 per cent and 26 per cent, with empty nesters/retired buyers the next largest group at 17 per cent of the buyer population.

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