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Last month, 3,643 homes sold in the Vancouver region, a 56-per-cent increase over the previous September.JENNIFER GAUTHIER/Reuters

Vancouver home sales reached a record for September, with buyers scrambling to take advantage of low mortgage rates amid concerns over a second wave of novel coronavirus cases.

Last month, 3,643 homes sold in the Vancouver region, a 56-per-cent increase over the previous September, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. That was 20 per cent higher than August and followed a summer of frenzied buying after the pandemic halted sales in April and part of May.

“There is still that component of pent-up demand that still has not been satisfied,” said board chair Colette Gerber, adding that home buyers are trying to benefit from cheap borrowing costs.

Ms. Gerber said properties continue fetching multiple offers and she expects the strong sales to continue this month after the normally busy spring selling season was roiled. But she said that depended on COVID-19 cases not rising further.

“Things are continuing at a similar pace. That is assuming we don’t get a second wave. If we get a second wave, all bets are off,” she said.

The home price index, an industry calculation of a typical property sold, was $1,041,300 last month, a 5.8-per-cent increase over the previous September. Detached properties recorded the steepest price increase, rising 7.8 per cent to $1,507,500. Following that, semi-attached houses rose 5.2 per cent and condos climbed 4.5 per cent.

Since the pandemic started, buyers have flocked to houses with more square footage and gardens, instead of condos. Sales of detached and semi-detached properties jumped over 70 per cent year over year, while sales of condos rose 37 per cent. As well, buyers have sought properties outside the city, pushing prices up in places like Bowen Island and Port Coquitlam.

However, the home price index for the region is still below the peak reached in May, 2018, when buyers were adjusting to stricter mortgage qualifications. The B.C. market was starting to recover in the summer of 2019 before the pandemic briefly slowed activity earlier this year.

More homeowners put their properties up for sale last month, driving new listings up 30 per cent over September of last year.

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