Burnaby has become the latest Vancouver suburb to surpass the million-dollar mark in prices for single-family detached homes.
The median price – the point at which half the detached homes sold are above a price and the other half below – hit $1,006,222 in the City of Burnaby in the first nine months of 2014, up 10.1 per cent from $913,611 in the same period in 2013, according to new data compiled by the B.C. Real Estate Association.
Developers have been shifting their attention to building more multifamily complexes such as condos and townhouses, while the availability of single-family detached homes has become scarcer. Buyers have been willing to pay premium prices for detached homes, association economist Brendon Ogmundson said.
The Vancouver area's pricey housing market has placed pressure on civic leaders to find ways to make it faster and easier for residents to take public transit to and from less expensive neighbourhoods. That pressure will increase if, as predicted by real estate analysts, people continue to move from other provinces and overseas. Transportation projects carry multibillion-dollar price tags, including much-delayed plans for the first phase of a subway along Vancouver's Broadway corridor – a service that would help ease the stress on commuters going to and from the University of British Columbia.
Cameron Muir, chief economist at the B.C. Real Estate Association, said that while detached home prices have now crossed the million-dollar mark in five jurisdictions in the Vancouver region, the condo market remains stable in the suburbs.
"This idea that prices have skyrocketed – that's for single-family detached homes. But the other home types? Not so much," Mr. Muir said.
Two other cities in the region, North Vancouver and Richmond, also joined the million-dollar club in 2014. Detached properties in the City of North Vancouver had a median price of $1,082,600 in the January-to-September period last year, up 12.8 per cent from $960,003 in the first nine months in 2013. Richmond saw its detached median price rise 11.8 per cent to $1,038,333.
The district municipality of West Vancouver remains the most expensive suburb, with detached homes having a median price of $2.12-million in the first nine months of 2014, advancing 11 per cent from the same period in 2013. The median price for detached homes sold in the City of Vancouver climbed 8 per cent to $1,672,031.
Condos are much more affordable. In Coquitlam, median condo prices in first nine months of 2014 reached $299,207, up 2.5 per cent from the same period in 2013. Median prices for condos advanced 3.9 per cent to $207,470 in Surrey, but they slipped 1.4 per cent to $200,729 in Langley.
Mr. Muir forecasts a modest increase in total sales volume in the Vancouver area's housing market in 2015 for detached homes, condos, townhouses and row units, while prices might be flat or edge up slightly.
The Evergreen SkyTrain line, scheduled to open in the summer of 2016, is expected to fuel housing demand in suburbs such as Coquitlam and Port Moody. Single-family detached homes reached a median price of $774,407 in the first nine months of 2014 in Coquitlam, up 6.8 per cent from the comparable 2013 period, according to the association's study of existing house sales on the Multiple Listing Service.
Mr. Muir noted that statistics compiled by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver don't include less expensive suburbs such as Surrey and Langley. Those two communities are part of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.
The vast majority of British Columbia's 500 most expensive residential properties are on Vancouver's west side and West Vancouver, according to valuations released Friday by BC Assessment.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver uses the home price index (HPI), which strips out the priciest properties, because that calculation, it says, serves as the best barometer of trends. The HPI for a detached home on Vancouver's west side hit $2.32-million in November, up 46.4 per cent from the same month in 2009, the board's statistics show. The HPI for a West Vancouver detached house reached $1.99-million in November, up 40.3 per cent over the past five years.