OTTAWA, March 2 Home sales in the Vancouver
region's once-boiling housing market surged in February from
January and prices edged higher, but activity was sharply lower
than a year ago, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said
February sales rose 59.2 percent from a month earlier but
were down 41.9 percent from the record-setting pace a year ago
and 7.7 percent below the 10-year average, as snowy weather and
limited supply hampered activity, the real estate group said.
Vancouver's housing market, the most expensive in Canada,
has come off the boil since the provincial government imposed a
15 percent foreign buyers tax in August 2016 amid concern that
speculation by global investors, mostly from mainland China, was
fueling a bubble.
Sales and prices have declined unevenly since the tax was
imposed, with the volatile monthly numbers reflecting seller
reluctance to accept the slowdown and uncertainty about whether
the impact of the tax will wear off.
“While home sales are not happening at the pace we
experienced last year, home seller supply is still struggling to
keep up with today’s demand," Dan Morrison, the group's
president, said in a statement.
"This is why we’ve seen little downward pressure on home
prices, particularly in the condominium and townhome markets."
The federal government has repeatedly tightened mortgage
lending rules to cool the nation's housing markets, but Toronto
remains red hot and even mainstream Canadian economists have
said a bubble is developing in that city.
The benchmark price for homes in Vancouver rose 1.2 percent
from January to C$906,700, down 2.8 percent over the past six
months, the report showed.
New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties
in Vancouver fell 11.4 percent from January and were down 36.9
percent from a year earlier, the group said.
(Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Leslie Adler)