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The Real Estate Market Vancouver house sales, prices rise on below-average volume

People stop along the seawall and take in the last of the summer sun in Stanley Park with a backdrop of downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday, September 19, 2011.

rafal gerszak The Globe and Mail

Greater Vancouver housing sales climbed last month while prices rose, but market activity was slow in comparison with the 10-year average.

There were 2,641 single-family detached homes, condos and townhouses that changed hands last month, up 12.5 per cent from 2,347 sales in March of 2013, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said Wednesday.

Despite the higher volume, sales of existing properties last month were 17.2 per cent below the 10-year average of 3,190 for March.

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Benchmark index prices, which strip out the most expensive resale properties on the Multiple Listing Service, reached $615,200 last month for the three residential property types, up 3.7 per cent year-over-year.

On Vancouver's West Side, index prices for detached homes jumped 7.4 per cent to nearly $2.18-million while prices gained 7.7 per cent to $886,700 on the city's East Side. In nearby Burnaby, detached index prices increased 6.7 per cent to $985,400.

"Home prices in the region have experienced incremental gains in most areas and property types over the last 12 months," board president Ray Harris said in a statement. "It's important to remember that this is a diverse marketplace and trends will vary depending on area and property type."

A measurement closely watched by the housing industry, known as the sales-to-active-listings ratio, registered 18.2 per cent in Greater Vancouver last month. B.C. real estate agents consider it a balanced market when the ratio ranges from 15 to 20 per cent. It is deemed a buyer's market below 15 per cent and a seller's market above 20 per cent in the Vancouver region. There were a total of 14,472 active listings last month, down 6.4 per cent from a year earlier.

In the Fraser Valley, sales totalled 1,259 in March, up 11.6 per cent from 1,128 in the same month of 2013.

The overall March benchmark index price in the Fraser Valley, which includes the sprawling and less-expensive Vancouver suburb of Surrey, climbed 1.4 per cent to $431,100 for residential properties. The MLS price for all housing types in residential, commercial and retail averaged $499,260 last month in the Fraser Valley, up 4.9 per cent from a year earlier.

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