Residential real estate sales have been tumbling in British Columbia’s Kootenay region and Greater Vancouver this year, according to statistics released Thursday by the British Columbia Real Estate Association.
The drop in MLS sales has coincided with a 5 per cent drop in the average price in the Kootenays, which runs from Cranbrook to Grand Forks, while the average price for MLS listings in Vancouver remained almost flat, increasing marginally by 0.6 per cent.
Prices have held in Vancouver largely as a result of immigration, Cameron Muir, chief economist for the real estate association, said Thursday in an interview.
However, the Kooteney real estate market relies mostly on buyers from Alberta, he said.
The region “thrives” on recreational home purchases but many people have been looking south of the border to the U.S. for bargains, he said.
The monthly real estate report, released Thursday by the association, shows the number of MLS units sold dropped by 27 per cent in the Kootenays, to 159 in the first two months of this year, compared to 218 in the first two months of 2011. The average price dropped to $240,097, from $252,698.
The number of residential MLS sales in Greater Vancouver slid down to 4,179 units so far this year, compared to 4,995 units in the first two months of 2011, for a drop of 16.3 per cent. The average price over the first two months of this year rose to $785,439, compared to $780,819 last year.
Province-wide, the number of residential MLS units sold in the first two years declined by 7.6 per cent and the average price was 2.1 per cent lower.
Mr. Muir said activity across the province has been uneven.
“After the recession we saw a widening of demand levels between the south coast and the rest of the province,” he said in an interview. “That gap is beginning to narrow, “ he said.
The increases in real estate prices in Northern and urban centres such as Kamloops reflects an increase in consumer confidence and improving economic conditions, he said.
Unit sales of MLS listings in northern B.C. jumped 20 per cent while the average price went up by 4.1 per cent. Unit sales in Kamloops jumped 4.3 per cent and prices rose by 6.5 per cent.
The largest increase in average price during the first two months of 2012, compared to the same period last year, was in the South Okanagan region, which stretches from Penticton to Osoyoos.
The average price for sales from MLS listings rose 9.5 per cent to $222,732, from $203,435 last year.
The full report is available at here.