Vancouver housing market showing signs of a slowdown

House prices pulled back for the first time this year in Vancouver - Canada’s hottest housing market - in the clearest sign yet the buying frenzy is slowing after blistering price gains over the past two years.

Since the global recession clobbered real estate values in many cities around the world a few years ago, the amounts that buyers have been paying for houses in Vancouver have skyrocketed. Vancouver’s recovery has far outstripped that of other Canadian cities, with prices jumping 21 per cent in the past year alone – more than double the gains seen in the rest of the country.

But the latest home-sales figures point to a slowdown. The number sold dropped 21 per cent in July from June, and prices edged 0.1 per cent lower to $630,251 for a typical detached house, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. Listings of properties for sale in the city are increasing, while bidding wars are becoming less common.

The slowing real estate scene in Vancouver is adding to concerns that the rest of the country’s housing market will cool off as well against a backdrop of global economic uncertainty and gyrating financial markets.

A slowdown in Vancouver’s real estate market doesn’t guarantee the rest of the country will follow suit, since unique factors have driven prices in recent years. With mountains on one side and an ocean on the other, a lack of supply has contributed to price gains. The city also attracts many Asian immigrants, who move their families into new homes so they can go to school or start a new life in Canada.

Canada’s housing market rebounded strongly from the recession, but Vancouver’s recovery has been the most dramatic. The average house now costs 11 times average household income, double that of anywhere else in Canada.

Many economists and real estate companies generally expect prices nationally will remain close to where they are for the next year – give or take 5 per cent.

Vancouver’s real estate board said that although competitively priced homes are selling, there’s been a drop in multiple offer situations in recent months.

Source: Steve Ladurantaye, Globe and Mail


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