Amid anxiety over overheated market, B.C. home sales in March 2021 set new best monthly record

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      In May 2016, realtors across B.C. sold a total of 13,482 homes.

      The number set a new all-time high at the time, and the record stood unbroken for almost five years, until now.

      Amid a lot of talk about an overheated market and concerns about a housing bubble, B.C. home sales last month shattered records.

      In March 2021, realtors sold a total of 15,073 homes across the province, setting a new record for best monthly sales.

      It may be recalled that the previous record of May 2016 was set during the course of intense public discussions regarding foreign buyers of B.C. properties.

      Foreign buyers were being blamed at the time for supposedly causing home prices to increase.

      In July of 2016, the provincial government of then B.C. Liberal premier Christy Clark introduced a foreign buyer’s tax.

      The levy was increased and expanded when John Horgan and the B.C. NDP took power in 2017.

      Meanwhile, home prices continued to rise even though foreign buyers became less and less of a presence in the province.

      With COVID-19 halting travel and immigration, the share of foreign money in B.C. real estate transactions fell to almost zero or 0.56 percent in 2020.

      Last year, a total of 93,953 homes were sold in the province.

      This 2020 number represents a 21.5 per cent from the 77,350 residential units that changed hands in 2019.

      Also last year, the annual average price of a home in B.C. rose to $782,027, representing an 11.7 percent increase from $700,369 in 2019.

      The BCREA released its report about the March 2021 market Tuesday (April 13).

      The association stated that last month’s record-setting 15,073 sales represent a 123.3 percent increase over March 2020.

      Meanwhile, the average price rose to $947,707 in March 2021, a 20.4 percent improvement from $787,032 in March 2020.

      BCREA chief economist Brendon Ogmundson said in a media release that “market activity is expected to remain very strong through the spring”.

      Ogmundson anticipates strong market activity to continue even as “mortgage rates have risen in recent months and a modest tightening of mortgage regulations is on the horizon”.

      The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions is proposing to increase qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages from the current 4.79 percent to 5.25 percent.

      In a previous interview, Ogmundson told the Straight that the move will “unlikely to have a significant impact” on cooling the red-hot housing market.

      The BCREA’s report noted that total active residential listings were down 24.4 percent to 22,337 units in March.

      “While the total supply of re-sale listings remains at crisis levels, many markets saw record new listings activity in March,” Ogmundson said in the media release.