The average price for single-family detached homes in Greater Vancouver has jumped 20 per cent to a record $1.47-million over the past year as the affordability gap widens between houses and condos.
"It's really the value of the land that is driving prices higher for detached properties and widening that gap," said Darcy McLeod, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.
The average price for detached homes in Greater Vancouver was $952,809 higher than the average price for condos last month, compared with a gap of $771,298 in August, 2014.
The most expensive properties are within the City of Vancouver. "For anyone who wants a detached home in Vancouver proper, it has become a luxury item," Mr. McLeod said in an interview Wednesday. "If you want a detached house, you might have to move farther away from the city's core."
Condo prices in the region have hit a high, averaging $521,666 in August, or a 14-per-cent gain from a year earlier. But the condo market has been relatively flat over the past five years, compared with the boom in detached properties.
Mr. McLeod prefers to concentrate on a statistic called the home price index (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, he said.
Over the past five years, benchmark prices for detached homes have surged 40.7 per cent to a record $1.16-million in Greater Vancouver, while condo prices have risen a relatively modest 11.3 per cent to $405,400, according to sales data released by the board.
Mr. McLeod said concerns about the influence of offshore buyers, notably from China, have been overstated because those purchasers focus on higher-end detached properties costing at least $3-million within the City of Vancouver.
Condos and townhouses in the suburbs are within the reach of many buyers, he said, adding that the benchmark price for Coquitlam condos was $274,700 last month, up 9.6 per cent over the past five years. In Maple Ridge, the HPI for detached homes last month was $518,400, up 13.4 per since August, 2010, said Mr. McLeod, who lives in Maple Ridge.
"As you move toward the centre of Vancouver, prices go up," he said.
Last month's median price for detached properties sold on the Multiple Listing Service reached $2.87-million on Vancouver's west side and $1.29-million on the east side.
For Greater Vancouver as a whole, there were a total of 3,362 detached homes, condos and townhouses that changed hands last month, up 21.3 per cent from August, 2014.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver's territory covers a large portion of Metro Vancouver, including Burnaby, Richmond and New Westminster. But 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 benchmark price for Fraser Valley detached homes climbed 10.5 per cent to $629,400 over the past year while sales volume increased by one-third to 1,734 transactions.
Fraser Valley board president Jorda Maisey said strong consumer confidence and low interest rates spurred sales this summer.
Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley have both watched housing demand spike while total listings drop sharply.