The housing market is changing, says a local realtor. (THE NEWS/files)

Metro homes sales take big dip in April

Tougher mortgage finance rules reducing borrowing capacity for first-time buyers.

Metro Vancouver home sales dropped 43 per cent in April compared to the 10-year average for that month, and prices are falling in Maple Ridge.

There were also 16 per cent more homes for sale in Metro Vancouver last month compared to the previous one.

The figures come from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, which also notes that the increased number of homes for sale is due to reduced demand, caused by tough mortgage qualification rules brought in by the federal government.

“There are more homes for sale in our market today than we’ve seen since October 2014. This trend is more about reduced demand than increased supply,” said real estate board president Ashley Smith.

In Maple Ridge, the average or benchmark price for a condo is now $348,600, down almost 10 per cent from a year ago.

When it comes to single family homes in Maple Ridge, the average price is now $815,400, down by six per cent from a year ago.

According to the real estate board’s April report, the composite residential price of homes (of all types) in Maple Ridge is now $755,300, down seven per cent from last year.

Local realtor Rob Jeeves said the tougher mortgage finance rules are reducing borrowing capacity for first-time buyers by about $100,000.

“I think some of the restrictions that have been put on by the federal government and the provincial government have definitely made it a challenge for young buyers to get in the market,” he said.

Jeeves thinks there still has to be a way to get foreign investors to pay income tax in Canada.

“We have way too many foreign buyers [who] are not contributing to our economy and we need to find ways to make that happen.”

He’s also concerned about buyers who got into the market when it was more active and now have to refinance.

“It’s definitely a changing time for both buyers and sellers.”

On the positive side, with high-priced homes dropping, there’s less of a gap between townhouses and single-family homes, he added.

And with low vacancy rates and high rents, it’s almost cheaper to buy a condo, Jeeves said.

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