Up and Down in the Real Estate Market

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DOUGLAS – The graph charting Greater Victoria house prices in the last 18 months looks like a piece of bumpy road. Two years ago, the average single-family house was nudging $600,000

It dipped in the winter of  2007, than bumped up the following spring to $630,295. That number in April of 2008 turned out to have been the very peak of the market, an all-time high price for a house in the region.

You all know what came next in the economic scary times driven by U.S. bank and investment company failures–house prices here bottomed at $525,000 seven months later.

Early this year, prices starting moving up again, close to $600,000, followed by a downward blip. But that’s all in the past–August house prices pushed up to within $3,500 of the $600,000 level.

That’s based on 366 single-family home sales in Greater Victoria during the month. August of 2008 saw only 244 house sales in the Victoria area.

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Prices might go still higher, since the supply is diminishing. Last month, there were 3,509 properties listed for sale, a 25 per cent drop from a year ago.

“The decline in the number of properties available for sale will continue to place some upward pressure on prices,” VREB president Chris Markham said in a news release. He saw the increase in the number of sales as “further evidence
of the strengthening of the market.”

Sales so far this year are running more than six per cent ahead of the same period last year. Property sales slowed during August–the usual summer trend, said the VREB–but sales were again significantly higher than a year ago. Prices were stable with some increase for single-family homes.

A total of 764 homes and other properties sold in August through the VREB’s Multiple Listing Service, down from the 933 sales in July but up 48 per cent compared to the 517 sales of all types in August of last year. The average price was affected by17 sales over $1 million–including two at more than $4 million, in Saanich and in Central Saanich.

The overall average price for condominiums was $317,312 last month, down from $328,441 in July. The average for the last six months was $307,347. The average price of all townhomes sold last month was $455,430 up from $443,109 in July. MLS sales last month included 403 single family homes (including Gulf Islands and up-Island), 218 condominiums, 91 townhomes and 11 manufactured homes.