According to BCREA’s monthly data, a total of 7,648 residential unit sales were recorded by the MLS in October 2014, a rise of 14.6 per cent compared to the same month last year. This is compared to an 8.9 per cent increase in Alberta and a 6.6 increase in Ontario.
Ozzie Jurock of Jurock Case Real Estate Action Group points to a range of factors for B.C.’s growing housing market, including a rise in retail values, an increase in exports, improved employment and inward migration.
“There are 40,000 people moving to B.C. every year, mostly from overseas,” he says. “That in turn, according to CHMC, creates a household formation of 30,000 units that we need to have every single year, either in rental values or new ownership. In the lower mainland alone, we have 19,090 new households formed, and it is expected to increase at that rate to 2018.”
Another factor is the high-performing natural gas sector. “All of that bodes well, and the numbers are not surprising, in terms of valuation,” he adds.
B.C. areas that saw significant increases in housing sales were Chilliwack, (up 31 per cent), Victoria (up 21.9 per cent), the Kootenay (up 19.4 per cent), the Fraser Valley (up 16.3 per cent), Vancouver (15.4 per cent) and Okanagan Mainline (14.4 per cent).
“Consumer demand for housing continues at an elevated level,” says Cameron Muir, chief economist at BCREA. “There were more homes purchased during the first 10 months of the year than during all of 2013.”
Average housing prices also saw a significant rise, most notably in Northern B.C., which saw a 16.7 per cent increase.
Chilliwack, Fraser Valley, Kamloops and Victoria also saw a rise in housing prices. The average price across B.C. was $575,504, up from $540,432 last year.
“We have also seen some pricing increases,” adds Jurock. “Those price increases, generally, are limited to the big cities. CREA pointed out that some 60 per cent of the price increases in Canada have taken place in Toronto and Vancouver.”
The housing market in British Columbia has seen one of the country’s biggest increases in sales activities in the past year, according to the British Columbia Real Estate Association, beating out both Alberta and Ontario.