What began as a modest housing rally in mid-2013 in the Vancouver region has turned into a bull market entering uncharted territory, surprising industry leaders who had anticipated a slowdown this fall.
Housing demand is escalating while "for sale" signs are becoming increasingly scarce, fuelling a market that is already scorching.
Prices for single-family detached homes are leading the way in posting sharp increases, with townhouses and condos joining the party this year.
Sales of detached homes, townhouses and condos in Greater Vancouver totalled 3,524 transactions last month, up 40.1 per cent from November, 2014. In the Fraser Valley, November sales surged 55 per cent year-over-year to 1,766 transactions.
It marked the second-highest number of November sales in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. The total number of listings has fallen 35 per cent in Greater Vancouver and is down 31 per cent in the Fraser Valley.
"November is typically one of the quietest months of the year in our housing market, but not this year," Darcy McLeod, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, said in a statement Wednesday.
The benchmark home price index (HPI) for detached houses in Greater Vancouver touched a high of $1.22-million in November, up 22.6 per cent from the same month last year. The HPI is a representation of the typical property in an area, providing a better barometer of trends than average resale prices, according to the real estate industry.
On Vancouver's west side, the HPI for detached properties hit a record $2.86-million while reaching $1.21-million on the city's east side. An influx of wealthy buyers, notably from China, has been a key factor in pushing prices up for detached houses on the west side, industry observers say.
The price of detached homes in Greater Vancouver averaged nearly $1.58-million last month – only $4,940 shy of the record set in October. The price for detached properties in the City of Vancouver averaged $2.2-million in September, but new statistics have not been disclosed for the average price in October and November in the city proper.
There is some debate about the ripple effect of foreign buyers on home prices outside of Vancouver's west side. Agents and analysts say there are a host of reasons driving Canada's most expensive housing market, including low mortgage rates, a strong B.C. economy, limited land available for development and a dwindling number of listings for existing properties.
The market for townhouses and condos had been flat from 2010 through 2014. The HPI for townhouses, however, rose 11.3 per cent over the past year to $536,600 in Greater Vancouver and condo prices climbed 14 per cent to $435,000.
The Fraser Valley board said in a release that its area hasn't seen housing inventory at such low levels since the spring of 2006.
"November is not normally this busy. We've experienced our usual seasonal dip in the number of new listings, but we're just not seeing a decline in the demand," Fraser Valley board president Jorda Maisey said.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver's boundaries cover a large portion of Metro Vancouver, including Burnaby, Richmond and New Westminster. Metro Vancouver is a broader political entity that has 23 members, including other suburbs such as Surrey, White Rock and Langley – whose sales fall under the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.