It is becoming a rare commodity within the city of Vancouver – a single-family detached house that costs less than $1-million.
Of the 2,285 sales of detached properties in the first six months of this year, there were 288 that sold under the $1-million mark, or 12.6 per cent, according to data from the Multiple Listing Service.
By contrast, of the 1,931 sales of detached houses in the first six months of 2014, 543 properties changed hands for less than $1-million, or 28.1 per cent.
Ken Wong, an agent with Royal Pacific Realty Group, said that even before crunching the numbers for existing houses, he had been directing his clients on limited budgets to attached properties. "If people say they can't afford to pay $1-million in Vancouver, you still have lots of options in condos and townhouses. And there are also options in the suburbs," he said Wednesday.
Mr. Wong dug up 15 listings ranging from $525,000 to $699,000 for an array of condos and townhouses as examples – all on Vancouver's east side.
The city's east side formerly had bargains for detached houses, but the latest statistics from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver show a pricing surge over the past year.
The median price for detached homes on Vancouver's east side reached $1.28-million last month, up 32.3 per cent since July of 2014. On the city's west side, the median price for detached properties has jumped 21.8 per cent to $2.9-million.
Demand for detached homes has been coming from new arrivals, including overseas buyers from China, observers say. How much of a factor that offshore money plays has been the subject of debate. The real estate industry is playing down the impact of foreign investors, while others have raised alarm bells, including Eveline Xia, creator of the Twitter hashtag #DontHave1million.
Real estate board president Darcy McLeod said there are several factors contributing to the sellers' market, notably "strong consumer confidence, low interest rates and a reduced supply of homes for sale."
In Greater Vancouver, which includes suburbs such as Burnaby and Coquitlam, the price of detached homes averaged $1.4-million last month, up 17.6 per cent from July of 2014.
In recent years, the board has concentrated on its own statistic, called the Home Price Index (HPI), arguing 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 than average prices, according to real estate officials.
By that measure, Greater Vancouver's HPI for detached homes hit a record-high of $1.14-million in July, or a 16.2-per-cent gain from the same month last year. The HPI also set records on Vancouver's east side at $1.12-million up 19.9 per cent over the past year, and on the west side at $2.65-million, up 16.6 per cent from a year earlier.
Mr. McLeod said prospective purchasers need to cast a wide net. "Home buyers continue to have a range of housing options, at different price points," he said in a statement.
The number of transactions for all types of properties has been growing. There were 3,978 sales in Greater Vancouver last month, up 30 per cent from July of 2014.
In the B.C. Fraser Valley, which includes suburbs such as Surrey and Langley, the HPI for detached homes rose 9.3 per cent over the past year to $621,100. "We have amongst the most affordable homes in the region," Fraser Valley Board president Jorda Maisey said in a release.