November home sales in Vancouver fall 28.6 per cent compared with a year ago

VANCOUVER – November home sales in the Vancouver area fell 28.6 per cent compared with a year ago as what was once the country’s hottest real estate market continued to cool.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says sales through its Multiple Listings Service totalled 1,686 for the month, down from 2,360 in November 2011.

Sales were also down 12.7 per cent from 1,931 home sales in October this year.

Despite the sharp drop in sales, the board said the MLS home price index composite benchmark for homes Greater Vancouver was $596,900, down just 1.7 per cent compared with a year ago. The index peaked in May at $625,100.

“Home sellers appear more inclined to remove their properties from the market today rather than lower prices to sell their properties,” said Eugen Klein, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

“On the other hand, buyers appear to be expecting prices to moderate.”

On Monday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he was pleased housing was moderating in Canada, a shift in the mortgage market he attributed in part to his decision to tighten borrowing rules in July. Flaherty made mortgage payments more expensive by dropping the maximum amortization period to 25 years.

Nationally, the housing slowdown was a big part of the disappointing economic downturn recorded in the third quarter, with the sector falling 3.5 per cent annualized.

In Vancouver, the board said there were 15,689 residential property listings on the MLS, up 13 per cent from this time last year, but down 9.7 per cent compared October 2012.

New listings for the month totalled 2,758 for November, down from 3,222 new listings a year ago.

Sales of detached homes in Greater Vancouver totalled 629 in November, down from 916 a year ago, while the benchmark price was $914,500, down 2.3 per cent.

Apartment sales amounted to 750, down from 1,000 in November 2011. The benchmark price was $364,900, down one per cent.

Meanwhile, townhouse sales totalled 307, down from 444 a year ago, while the benchmark price was $454,300, down 2.1 per cent.