Metro Vancouver’s housing market had a strong start in March – until concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak took hold across the country.
Residential home sales in the region totaled 2,524 in March, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, a 46.1 per cent increase from March of last year which saw 1,727 home sales. It was also a 17.4 per cent increase from the 2,150 homes that were sold in February of this year.
“The first two weeks of the month were the busiest days of the year for our region with heightened demand and multiple offers becoming more common,” noted Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver president Ashley Smith.
“Like other aspects of our lives, this changed as concerns over the COVID-19 situation in our province grew.”
Maple Ridge real estate agent, Ralph Telep, said there is no urgency right now in the market.
“There’s still activity and showings and so on, but the people aren’t buying,” he said.
And it is not just the COVID-19 pandemic that is holding buyers and sellers back, said Telep. He also believes it is the mortgage stress test, which requires banks to check that borrowers can still make mortgage payments at a higher rate than what is actually required.
A lot of people selling their homes already have mortgages that they are paying off, explained Telep.
However, they can’t qualify for a new mortgage under the stress test rules, he said.
There were 138 daily residential sales on average in the first ten business days of the month, according to the REBGV. In the final ten business days of the month, the daily average declined to 93 sales.
More time will be needed to understand what impact the pandemic is having on the housing market, said Smith.
“Many of the sales recorded in March were in process before the provincial government declared a state of emergency,” she noted, adding that many people are choosing to put their home buying and selling plans on hold for now.
Others, though, have more urgent housing needs.
“Realtors were named among the province’s list of essential services last week,” Smith said.
“This means that we have a responsibility to do what we can to help residents meet their housing and shelter needs while strictly following the most up-to-date public health orders and physical distancing requirements from our health officials and government agencies.”
Telep, though, is confident the market in the province is going to rebound quickly.
Recently he put up a listing on the west side of Maple Ridge and one of the offers he received was $40,000 over asking and the other was $53,000 over asking.
“If you have something and it’s priced decent, it sells, believe me,” said Telep.
“The world isn’t coming to an end,” added Telep.
“British Columbia is going to recover faster than anybody.”