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Vancouver Vancouver house prices face double-digit correction: Royal LePage

A sold sign is seen outside a home in North Vancouver, B.C. Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

Vancouver's long-awaited housing correction may be around the corner: Prices are headed for a double-digit decline in 2017 as buyers drop out of the market, says the head of Canada's largest real estate services company.

"Home prices had gotten so out of whack with the growth in underlying wages and salaries that there had to be a correction," said Phil Soper, chief executive officer of Royal LePage, a unit of Brookfield Real Estate Services Inc. "And it'll happen in 2017."

LePage is preparing a formal forecast for release in early January based on data from Brookfield. "We're looking at all these trends," Mr. Soper said. "If it's not double digit, it'll be close to it."

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Buyers began to pull back this year as prices shot out of range for most residents, with the typical single-family house soaring nearly 40 per cent over a 12-month period. A series of policy moves aimed at cooling the market – including a 15-per-cent tax on foreign buyers and tighter mortgage rules – accelerated a slowdown that had already begun, Mr. Soper said. The regional market is especially susceptible because such a large share of disposable income goes to housing, he said.

The number of residential property transactions fell in November for the fifth straight month in Vancouver. Typically, there's about a six-month lag between the time demand starts to slow and prices begin to fall, Mr. Soper said from his Toronto office. "Thank goodness there's going to be a measure of sanity returning to the market," he said.

Still, those expecting Vancouver to become affordable again may be in for a disappointment.

The typical single-family house has surged past $1.51 million, about 20 times the median household income in the region. Those types of homes are likely to see the biggest declines because they had run up so fast, Mr. Soper said. Still, a 10-per-cent decrease would only bring prices back to about where they were in March.

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