Greater Vancouver had one of its best years on record in 2016, despite a year marked by ups and downs and government action to reduce ballooning prices.
Although home sales dropped 5.6% from the previous year, it was still the region’s third-highest year in history behind just 2015 and 2005, according to a report released Wednesday.
Residential sales in the area reached 39,943, down from 42,326 sales in 2015, which was the highest sales recorded by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, an association representing more than 13,000 realtors and their companies.
During the first six months, low supply and strong homebuyers’ demand pushed up prices throughout Metro Vancouver. Foreign buyers, especially those from China, were considered by some locals to have caused the price inflation. Public outcry prompted the provincial government of British Columbia to introduce a 15% foreign buyers’ tax in early August.
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“It was an eventful year for real estate in Metro Vancouver,” Dan Morrison, the Board’s president, said in the report. “As prices rose in the first half of the year, public debate waged about what was fuelling demand and what should be done to stop it. This led to multiple government interventions into the market. The long-term effects of these actions won’t be fully understood for some time.”
Residential properties for sale in Metro Vancouver reached 57,596 in 2016, a 0.6% increase over the 57,249 properties listed in 2015.
“The supply of homes for sale couldn’t keep up with home buyer demand for much of 2016. This allowed home sellers to raise their asking prices,” Mr. Morrison said. “It wasn’t until the last half of the year that prices began to show modest declines.”
The benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver reached C$897,600 (US$674,664) in December 2016, a 17.8% increase year-over-year. But over the past six months the composite benchmark price declined 2.2%, partly resulting from the market cooling measures.
Benchmark prices for Vancouver West and West Vancouver, two of the most expensive neighborhoods, ended the year at C$1,193,800 (US$897,297) and C$2,468,300 (US$1,855,250) respectively. The prices represented 14.3% and 13.2% increases, respectively, compared with 2015. But over the second half of 2016, home prices in these two neighborhoods declined 4.5% and 8.1% respectively.
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