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Home Buyer’s return in droves, multiple offers soar

Multiple offers are starting to return as buyers flock back to the market

Buyers returned to the market in droves last month, as the total number of property sales in Greater Victoria hit the fifth-highest monthly level since 1991.

June saw 946 sales through the Greater Victoria Real Estate Board’s Multiple Listing Service. The sales represented mostly capital region residential properties, but also included some out-of-town properties and a dozen commercial sales.

Everything from single-family homes to lots and manufactured homes is included.

“I was quite astounded,” Michael Holmes, Pemberton Holmes managing broker, said yesterday.

The robust market, where multiple offers are showing up again, likely reflects pent-up demand and low interest rates, Holmes said, adding strong sales in other parts of the country translate into sales in the capital region when people move to Greater Victoria.

In the capital region’s most recent real estate boom, in May 2007, sales hit 963, followed by June of that year at 949.

The previous high was set in May 1991 with 1,083 sales, while April 1991 saw 1,003 sales, said Chris Markham, Victoria Real Estate Board president.

“We’re on fire,” Markham said.

The total value of all June sales was $447.6 million.

“This takes me right back to 2006-2007,” he said, referring to years when the local market was hot.

June sales reflect a 31 per cent increase from 723 in June 2008, and are up by seven per cent from May 2009, when 879 properties changed hands.

Markham said the market has been growing stronger for the past couple of months as many people who were waiting to see which direction the market would move have decided it’s time to buy.

“Housing that we didn’t sell last year, we are seeing multiples [offers] at the same price level.”

This isn’t a market of speculators, Markham said. Normally, 75 per cent of buyers are from within the region, but he believes that number is higher now.

After a “brutal” January and February, sales numbers have been steadily climbing.

The strongest part of the market is in the $600,000-and-lower price range, Markham said.

Many condominium projects were built in the capital region and inventory is “clearing out nicely,” Markham said.

The average price of a single-family house sold through the board’s Multiple Listing Service increased to $588,186 last month, up from $573,442 in May. The median in June was $529,900.

Saanich East led the region in the number of total single-family sales, at 94, followed by Langford at 60, and Victoria at 42.

The average price for condominiums edged down to $298,200 in June. May’s average was $306,971. The median in June was $275,000.

Victoria had the highest number of condo sales, at 99, followed by Langford at 40.

Townhomes saw an average price increase, rising to $413,218 in June, up from $400,788 in May. The median remained the same month-over-month at $375,000.

Last month brought 26 sales of more than $1 million, including one Uplands home sold for more than $5 million, the board said.

Inventory has tightened up since June of last year, helping drive demand. Last month, there were 3,794 properties for sale, a decrease of 16 per cent from the 4,513 on the market in June 2008.

“The drop in available inventory is also reflected in the price increases for single-family homes and townhomes that we saw

last month,” Markham said.

Times Colonist (Victoria)
Fri Jul 3 2009
Byline: Carla Wilson
Source: Times Colonist

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