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THE MARKET INVENTORY

There were 1,859 properties (including lots and acreage) active on the VREB’s MLS® database for the Greater Victoria area (i.e., excluding the Malahat, Up-Island and the Gulf Islands) on Oct 1, 2020, down -13.7% from the inventory level of 2,155 a year ago.

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THE VICTORIA MARKET

After two dismal months in March and April, the real estate market in Victoria continued a dramatic rebound in the 3rd Qtr of 2020. On the supply side, the number of listings was up from last year. However, even this increase did not meet the strong demand as sales activity reached levels well beyond last year.

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REAL ESTATE CONTINUES TO SURPRISE

In the wake of the economic impact of Covid-19, the performance of the housing market in Canada in 2020 has surprised many. Despite the rather dire forecasts of a number of market analysts, sales have not collapsed; in fact, prices have shown strong increases in many areas of the country.

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COVID-19 AND REAL ESTATE SERVICES - REDUCING THE RISK

Real estate services were identified as essential services by the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General in March 2020. They were encouraged to remain open and to follow public health orders to reduce the spread of the virus. WorkSafeBC, in consultation with the real estate industry, subsequently formalized safety guidelines in the form of a six page set of protocols in May 2020. They were designed to mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the conduct of real estate services. The following is extracted from this document and outlines some of the key measures directed to Realtors®, which have direct implications to buyers and to sellers, The full document can be found at https://www.worksafebc.com.

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THE VICTORIA MARKET & MARKET INVENTORY

The real estate market in Victoria started out strong in the 1st Qtr of 2020. Demand (i.e., the number of sales) was up dramatically, although it should be recalled that sales in the 1st Qtr of 2019 were the lowest recorded in the past decade. The inventory (i.e., the number of homes on the market) tightened. Sale prices continued to climb in the 1st Qtr. In summary, the market edged into seller’s market territory. However, the impact of the COVID-9 virus
outbreak on the economy became clear towards the middle of March 2020. There remains a lot of uncertainty going forward. Many people have plans to either buy or sell real estate this year. Realtors have been given guidelines to minimize the risk to both buyers and sellers.

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ASPECTS OF RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE

In times of uncertainty, it is perhaps useful for buyers and sellers to pause and take stock of the recent state of the real estate market in the region of Greater Victoria.

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Victoria Market - Outlook

The recent weakness in the real estate market in Victoria is perhaps best viewed as a part of the normal real estate cycle. Victoria has enjoyed one of the strongest and most stable real estate markets in the country. The average sale price of a single family dwelling has increased from $8,795 in 1960 to $878,767 in 2019. Chart 5 shows: (i) the annual percentage change and (ii) the change in the average sale price from 1960 to 2019. The average sale price increased in forty-five of the fifty-nine year period and decreased in fourteen. In fact, there were only five years that experienced a decrease in the average sale price of greater than -2%: 1982 (-20%), 1984 (-6%), 1995 (-5.5%), 2011 (-2.6%) and 2019 (-3.1%). The average sale price of a single family dwelling has increased an average of about +9.1% per annum during this 59-year period, about +5.6% above the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index. Chart 5 also illustrates the cyclical nature of the real estate market in Victoria. There is an historic pattern of a sustained period of rising prices (i.e., 1961 - 1969, 1971 - 1981, 1986 - 1994, 2001 - 2007 and 2014 - 2018) that is followed by a period of flat or falling prices (i.e., 1970, 1982 - 1985, 1996 - 2000, 2008 - 2013 and 2019)

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The Victoria Market & Market Inventory

After a weak start with declining sales and decreasing prices, the real estate market in Victoria picked up momentum in the latter part of 2019. Residential listings through the VREB’s MLS® totalled 11,437, up +3.6% from 11,044 in 2018. Residential sales totalled 6,887, up +2.2% from 6,770 in 2018, but still well below the record of 10,028 sales in 2016.

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The National Picture

For the most part, the real estate market in Canada has languished over the past couple of years. For example, in 2018, national sales were down nearly -5% from the preceding year and the average sale price of a residential property was down -4.1%. (This decline was largely attributable to a price decrease of -4.4% in Greater Toronto, Canada’s largest real estate market.) However, there are strong indications that the recent decline in housing prices, lower mortgage rates and continued population and economic growth, have led many prospective buyers to return to the real estate market in some areas of the country in the latter part of 2019.

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THE VICTORIA MARKET

Despite an increase in sales, prices in the Victoria real estate market have remained flat over the past several quarters. The upward pressure on prices eased in the 3rd Qtr of 2018 and after a modest decrease, prices have levelled off. On the supply side, the number of listings was up from the same period last year. On the demand side, there was an increase in the number of sales.

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