Vancouver housing sales fall so much it’s no longer a top-five market in Canada

By: Jessica Mach on May 16, 2019

Greater Vancouver dropped off the top-five list of Canada’s most active housing markets in April, as the city’s prices and sales both decline while other markets across British Columbia continue to thrive.

The average price of a home in Vancouver was $1,008,400 in April — an 8.51% drop compared to April 2018, according to the latest monthly housing report from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

The fall in prices was accompanied by a decline in sales, said CREA chief economist Gregory Klump, who did not provide specific numbers but noted that sales in Vancouver were “still trending lower as buyers adjust to a cocktail of housing affordability challenges, reduced access to financing due to the mortgage stress-test and housing policy changes implemented by British Columbia's provincial government.”

B.C.’s other housing markets fared better in April. While average home prices declined in the Fraser Valley, by 4.6% year-over year, they went up on Vancouver Island, excluding Victoria (6.2%). Looking at only Victoria, they were up 0.7%, while they rose 1% in the Okanagan Valley (1%).

Sales picked up across the rest of the country too, led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Montreal. Compared to last April, sales increased by 4.2% — the first year-over-year gain since December 2017, and the biggest in more than two years. The combined sales activity of the GTA and Montreal “outweighed” the declines in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, with the GTA accounting for more than half of the national increase. The average price of a GTA home was $789,100 in April, up 3.17% year-over-year, while in Montreal, that number stood at $360,900, up 6.34%.

Predictably, apartment units performed the best across the country, with prices rising 0.5% year over year. This has been an ongoing trend since the introduction of the mortgage stress test in 2018, which has decreased buying power for homeowners and led more to seek out cheaper condos rather than houses.

Meanwhile, two story detached homes saw their prices fall by 0.3%. Prices for single-story detached homes also dropped (1.4%), as did prices for townhouses and row units (0.2%).

While prices in Vancouver fell, they’re still not low by national measures. Home prices in the Lower Mainland (which encompasses Vancouver as well as the surrounding suburbs) stood at $955,400 even after falling by 7.08% compared to last April. The Lower Mainland was outranked only by prices in Vancouver proper and Oakville-Milton in Ontario ($981,900).

These prices are well above the national average, which stood at $495,000. However, that number is “heavily skewed” by Vancouver and the GTA, CREA said. "Excluding these two markets from calculations cuts almost $104,000 from the national average price, trimming it to just over $391,000."