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The Globe and Mail

Vancouver’s housing boom continues after record-breaking February

There were 4,172 properties sold last month in Greater Vancouver, including suburbs such as Burnaby and Richmond.

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

In early February, a teardown in Vancouver's Point Grey neighbourhood sold for $2.48-million, or $82,000 above the asking price. Last week, a recently renovated home in the city's Kitsilano district fetched $4.23-million, or a whopping $735,000 over the list price.

Those two transactions contributed to a record February for sales volume in the Vancouver region. Industry observers are still waiting for signs of a downturn in a housing market where there has been much debate over the consequences of runaway prices, especially over the past year.

There were 4,172 properties that sold last month in Greater Vancouver, which includes suburbs such as Burnaby and Richmond. The latest number for sales volume of all housing types is 56 per cent higher than the 10-year average for February and broke the previous high of 4,051 sales for that month in 1989, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said Wednesday.

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"Demand is incredible right now," board president Darcy McLeod said in an interview. "There are no real signs of an imminent downturn."

Robust demand and a limited number of listings have combined to drive up prices, but if more sellers place their properties on the market, that would have a dampening effect in 2016, he said. There were a total of 7,299 listings last month, down 38.7 per cent from a year earlier.

While Mr. McLeod played down the impact of buyers from China on the housing market, a recent note by Bank of Montreal senior economist Sal Guatieri said both Vancouver and Toronto "are likely benefiting from an influx of foreign wealth."

The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, whose boundary includes the sprawling and less expensive Vancouver suburb of Surrey, is also experiencing a housing boom. There were 2,387 sales through the Multiple Listing Service last month in the Fraser Valley, breaking the former record for February of 1,948 transactions in that month in 1992. Fraser Valley board president Charles Wiebe said consumer demand is intense and housing selection is scarce.

Single-family detached houses have been the hottest part of the market in the Vancouver region. The benchmark price – a representation of the typical property – rose 25 per cent over the past year to a new high that topped $3-million last month for detached homes sold on Vancouver's west side.

The real estate boards in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley prefer using the benchmark, saying average prices skew the picture because the most expensive properties are included.

According to Royal LePage, the average price for detached houses sold within the City of Vancouver reached nearly $2.87-million last month.

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"Vancouver definitely wears the crown for having the most expensive residential real estate in this country," said Phil Soper, Royal LePage's chief executive officer.

Data compiled by Royal LePage show the average price for detached houses sold in the City of Vancouver in 2015 hit $2.29-million, compared with $1.04-million for the City of Toronto.

The benchmark price for detached houses sold in Greater Vancouver surpassed $1.3-million last month to set a record, while the region's average price was $1.82-million, just shy of the record $1.83-million in January.

Still, last month's average in Greater Vancouver is 30 per cent higher than in February, 2015.

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