May homer sales

VANCOUVER - Home sales in B.C. edged down one per cent to 7,857 units in May compared to the same month last year, according to a B.C. Real Estate Association survey released Wednesday.


However, the report also said that the average price of a home climbed 20 per cent to $596,872 last month compared to May 2010.


"Tighter mortgage rules, tepid employment growth and advance buying during the first quarter kept B.C. home sales on a lower note in May,” BCREA chief economist Cameron Muir said in a statement. “However, recent downward pressure on mortgage interest rates is expected to provide some incentive to consumers over the summer months."


Year-to-date, the survey said, B.C. residential sales dollar volume increased 15 per cent to $20.1 billion, compared to the same five-month period last year.


Sales dropped one per cent to 34,191 units over the same period.


The same report noted a wide discrepancy in price increases throughout the province, with Metro Vancouver recording a 25.7-per-cent price increase year-over-year from $662,000 to $832,000.


However, the south Okanagan saw the average price drop 5.9 per cent in May compared to May 2010, from $352,000 to $331,000, while Kootenay saw the average price drop 4.6 per cent, from $263,000 to $251,000.


The Fraser Valley recorded a 15.1-per-cent price increase in the year, from $458,000 to $527,000.


Meanwhile, Canadian existing home sales fell in May by 0.6 per cent from the previous month, but was up 2.7 per cent on the year, the Canadian Real Estate Association said.


Sales fell to 36,410 units on a seasonally adjusted basis, from 36,621 units in April, the Ottawa-based group said in a statement Wednesday. Sales during the month were down 0.7 percent in dollar terms and up 12 per cent from May last year.


The average sale price was down 0.2 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis in May, the group said, but noted it was up 8.6 per cent from a year earlier.


CREA officials said that number was heavily skewed by the more affluent markets in Vancouver and Toronto.


Without Vancouver, the year-over-year increase would only be 5.6 per cent, according to CREA.


Finance Minister Jim Flaherty set rules that took effect March 18 to shorten the maximum amortization period for government-insured mortgages to 30 years from 35 years and lower the maximum homeowners can borrow against the value of their homes, citing concern that Canadians had taken on record debt levels.


Despite the latest BCREA numbers for the province as a whole, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley Real Estate Board said earlier this month that, in typical springtime fashion, sales are on the upswing in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.


The REBGV noted that home sales reached 3,377 in May, a seven-per-cent increase over the 3,156 sales in May 2010 and a 4.7-per-cent increase over the 3,225 sales in April 2011.


As well, the benchmark price for all properties increased 6.2 per cent to $627,568 in May 2011 from $590,662 in May 2010.


For detached homes, the benchmark price increased 10 per cent over the year to $890,833 in May.


The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 1,608 property sales in May, a nine-per-cent increase compared to 1,477 sold in May 2010 and a six-per-cent increase over April’s 1,516 sales.


The report noted that the benchmark price for Fraser Valley detached homes was $529,810, an increase of 2.8 per cent year-over-year.

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