While the effects of the current Covid-19 pandemic are not over by any means and how long some of the current issues will remain has yet to be seen, here is a look at how the housing market was for 2020. As housing remains an essential service, work in the Real Estate sector continued during 2020 under strict guidelines developed in concert with the public health officials to ensure precautions and protocols were implemented to protect the public. Armed with the proper procedures after the March shock that brought most things to a standstill, including Real Estate sales and listings, in June we began to see a rebound that resulted in significant activity in the residential market which continued at a fevered pace until the end of the year.
When we examine the market activity there are 3 main areas of focus: number of sales, volume of listings, and price fluctuations. Two of the three are up; sales and price, with the number of listings being down, placing the market firmly in the seller’s control. Interest rates at record lows bring more buyers who can afford homes and pandemic shifts are evolving to change the sense or requirements of a home.
Sales finished the year well above 2019 but still not as high as 2016/2017, which was the beginning of the current sustained upward market conditions, at least on sale price increase (see graphs). Prices began to climb at the end of 2019 and while we had a break in sales during the spring lockdown when things began to move again, they picked up right where we left off in March. The median sales price for a single family home is up 14% from 2019 with a median price of $1,150,000. Homes with suites or the potential to have one are in very high demand and are selling well above the median price point. For townhomes, there has been a 5% price increase over 2019 with the median price now at $719,000. Apartments have seen the highest increase in sales due to affordability and a price increase of 8% during 2020 over the previous year.
The number of properties sold rose significantly in 2020 compared to 2019. Single family homes are up 20% from 209 sold in 2019 to 260 homes sold in 2020. Townhomes for 2019 saw 174 sold, while in 2020 there were 221 sold, up by 21%. Apartment sales increased by 23% this year with a total of 182 sales compared to 129 sales in 2019. The total number of properties sold was 663, this is the second-highest number in the past 5 years with 2017 having 741 sales. All the sale numbers are provided by the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board which does not report things such as the for sale by owners or properties marketed by developers, so the general feeling in the Real Estate community is that there were more sales than reported potentially making 2020 as active a year as 2017!
What appears to be the determining factor on how 2021 might look is the number of available properties for sale. While there were more properties brought to the market, the high buyer demand meant they sold quickly and had multiple offers in a lot of cases, which in turn drove the prices up. Listings are at an all time low as we begin the year, which has many buyers scrambling to find ways to get into the stressed market. The sales to listing ratio (the number of listings compared to the number of sales) for the month of December was unlike any other December. For each single family home, there were 2.8 buyers, 1.57 for townhomes, and apartments were at 1.79 people in line for the purchase. Meaning, for there to be some return to a more traditional sales market, the listing inventory will need to expand greatly.
The sellers are in control of the market but a conversation with your Realtor® is important to ensure you are properly positioning your property for the best exposure and price possible. We did experience some interruptions last year in the market and there have been issues around tenants that could affect things yet in 2021. As for the buyers they need to be well positioned for entry into the purchasing ring, so it is best to have an open conversation with your Realtor® about your expectations and timelines for buying.