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New year, same story: House prices climb locally

The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) is ringing in the new year, reflecting on 2021 and the challenges sprung on to homebuyers.

Island-wide, a total of 11,045 properties were sold last year – a “remarkable outcome” considering historically low inventory, according to the VIREB.

“Based on buyer demand, 2021 would have likely set a historic sales record with sufficient supply,” it says.

The board points to a 47 per cent decline of single-family listings, with condo listings dropping by 71 per cent and townhouse inventory down 53 per cent year-over-year.

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Looking to the future, 2021 board president Ian Mackay doesn’t see the shortage going away anytime soon. It’s prompting him to repeat previous calls for new measures to increase housing stock.

“Expanding inventory is the key to affordability, and it requires a coordinated effort from all levels of government and adequate incentives for municipalities to take action,” explains Mackay. “The public also has a role to play by being more open to gentle densification in some areas.”

When speaking to Vista Radio, Mackay said homes need to be built in a reasonable time frame at a reasonable cost, noting it can’t take years to get a development off the ground.

But he is optimistic, applauding recent changes announced by the provincial government removing requirements for local governments to hold public hearings for development proposals that already align with Official Community Plans.

Looking to buy? The prices keep climbing…

Regarding housing costs, the board-wide benchmark price of a single-family home reached $785,300 in December, up 34 per cent year-over-year, the VIREB adds.

In the apartment category, the benchmark price hit $403,800 last month, a 29 per cent increase from December 2020.

Meanwhile, the benchmark price of a townhouse increased by 35 per cent and climbed to $609,300.

In Campbell River specifically, the benchmark price of a single-family home hit $689,000 in December, up by 32 per cent from the previous year.

And farther north, the benchmark price of a single-family home for the North Island jumped 46 per cent to $424,600.

In the Comox Valley, the year-over-year benchmark price rose by 31 per cent to $800,400.

Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose by 32 per cent, reaching $790,000, while the Cowichan Valley area saw its benchmark price increase by 30 per cent to $776,800.

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