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The Real Estate Market Prices for single-family detached houses in Greater Vancouver hit new highs

The downtown skyline and cranes at Port Metro Vancouver are seen in the distance behind houses in east Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday September 23, 2015.

darryl dyck The Globe and Mail

Benchmark prices for single-family detached houses in Greater Vancouver ascended to new highs last month.

The Home Price Index (HPI) for detached properties in the region hit almost $1.18-million in September, up 18.9 per cent from the same period in 2014. On Vancouver's west side, the HPI rose 19.2 per cent over the past year to surpass $2.74-million while surging 22.5 per cent to $1.16-million on the east side.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver prefers to concentrate on the HPI, saying that averages skew the picture because the most expensive properties are included. The benchmark HPI is a representation of the typical house in an area, providing a better barometer of real estate trends than average resale prices, according to the board.

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The Greater Vancouver board's territory covers 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.

The price for detached properties in Greater Vancouver last month averaged nearly $1.41-million, or an 11.5-per-cent increase since September, 2014. Last month's figure fell just shy of the record $1.47-million average in August.

Industry experts say low interest rates, a healthy economy and population growth have fuelled the housing boom over the past three years. On the high end of the market for detached properties, there has been brisk demand from buyers who are from China, observers say.

Dan Scarrow, vice-president of corporate strategy at Macdonald Realty Ltd., estimates that 16 per cent of his firm's 1,500 sales of detached houses, condos and townhouses within the city of Vancouver last year went to buyers from China. Of his firm's 544 sales of detached homes in Vancouver proper last year, 150 of the purchasers were from China, or 27.5 per cent, his analysis shows.

There were 3,345 sales in Greater Vancouver on the multiple listing service last month, up 14.5 per cent from a year earlier.

Board president Darcy McLeod said a range of factors is influencing prices, notably a limited supply of listings. The total number of listings of all residential property types in the area has fallen 27 per cent over the past year.

"The number of homes listed for sale hasn't been keeping up with the demand," Mr. McLeod said in a statement Friday. "It's this dynamic that's placing upward pressure on home prices, particularly in the detached home market."

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