Last month’s homes sales in Vancouver were the lowest in a decade, and down 42.5% from exactly a year earlier.
The 1,608 home sales in Metro Vancouver are worrying, but there were earlier indications that the city’s housing market was decelerating, says Adil Dinani, a sales representative with Royal LePage in Vancouver.
“Before, there was a divergence in the market,” he said. “The single-family detached market was slower and the condo market carried the balance, but that’s come down as well. The condo market eight to 12 months ago was on fire, but now it’s totally shifted. Most segments of the market are in buyers’ territory. Policy measures put forth—the 20% foreign buyer tax, the OSFI [Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions] rules and the vacancy and speculation tax introduced by the NDP—have played major roles.”
Interest rate hikes are mounting and conspiring to make homeownership even shakier for some of the region’s residents.
According to Ron Antalek, a REMAX sales agent, Vancouver’s troubles began in the summer and have finally reached an ugly denouement. While he concurs that B-20, the mortgage stress test implemented by OSFI, has done its part to erode Vancouver’s once sizzling real estate market, he says the provincial NDP has made it its mission to quell the once-white-hot activity in order to make housing affordable.
“To suggest affordable housing is created by dropping the market, I disagree,” he said. “The government should have created incentives to the development community that would create affordable housing and rental units. It could have been done in a better way.
“What’s happening is in our province with the NDP’s policies of an increased foreign buyer tax and an empty housing tax has definitely affected the market, especially Vancouver. It has adversely affected the investor community.”