Pandemic halts home sales in March, derails strong spring market: B.C. Real Estate Association

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      The housing market in B.C. ground to a halt in March 2020 because of the novel coronavirus.

      “Provincial housing markets started the month very strong before the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to activity,” Brendon Ogmundson, chief economist of the B.C. Real Estate Association, said in a media release Wednesday (April 15).

      It’s only going to get worse.

      “Activity will slow considerably in April as households and the real estate sector implement measures necessary to mitigate the spread of this virus,” Ogmundson said.

      Last month, Ogmundson told the Georgia Straight that the housing market in B.C. could be in for a rough ride due to the pandemic.

      “What we know is that we’re going to get kind of like a sudden stop in economic activity for the next couple of months,” Ogmundson said in a phone interview at the time.

      “So I think what we’re looking at for the B.C. economy is a couple of pretty, pretty lousy months for March, April, May, maybe extended to the summer,” the economist also said in the interview.

      The BCREA represents over 23,000 residential and commercial and residential realtors in the province.

      The association is comprised of 11 real estate boards across B.C.

      In the April 15, 2020 media release, Ogmundson indicated uncertainty in the coming days.

      However, the economist also expressed optimism about a market recovery.

      “While we don’t know when this unprecedented period will end, markets will be boosted by pent-up demand and historically low interest rates when it does,” Ogmundson said.

      “The ultimate strength of the recovery will depend on how long the economy remains effectively shut down, as well as the efficacy of federal and provincial measures to bridge households through the financial difficulties brought on by the pandemic,” he continued.

      Before the pandemic put on the brakes, March 2020 home sales were off to a strong start.

      According to BCREA numbers in the media release, 6,717 homes were sold last month, an increase of 17.2 percent from March 2019.

      The average residential price was $789,548, a 15.1 percent increase from $685,892 in March last year.

      Total sales dollar volume in March 2020 was $5.3 billion, a 35 percent increase over the same month in 2019.

      Home sales in the Greater Vancouver area were the biggest in March 2020.

      A total of 2,562 homes were sold in the region, a jump of 46.8 percent compared to March 2019.

      Homes sold in the Greater Vancouver area last month were valued at 2.7 billion, a 61 percent increase over $1.7 billion worth of residential sales in March of last year.