Homeownership is becoming out of reach in once affordable BC suburbs

With BC home listings at record lows and prices soaring even higher, the search for affordable homes is leading some buyers beyond the suburbs.

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For years, BC home buyers looking for more for their money have looked east.


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“People move from Vancouver to Surrey. Surrey to Abbotsford. Abbotsford to Chilliwack, ”explained Surrey real estate agent Rajiv Bhagirath.

But with the list of BC homes for sale hitting record lows and prices climbing even higher, the search for affordable homes is driving some buyers beyond the suburbs, while others are deciding to wait.

Chilliwack real estate agent Serena Laye said 30 percent of her sales in the past two months have been people who left Chilliwack for places like Castlegar, Terrace and 100 Mile House.

“Because of that influx of people from Vancouver, you see vendors in Chilliwack looking north,” he said.

Those who sell high, but want to stay in the community, must also buy high.

As a result, some sellers have chosen to delay listing their homes until more properties come on the market, Abbotsford realtor Michele Matteazzi said.


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You recently had a customer who was hoping to sell and buy again in the same neighborhood.

“It could have sold in a jiffy, but we advise you to wait because there is nothing available for sale,” he said.

Data from 10 real estate councils across the province paint a picture of low supply, high demand and rising prices.

On Wednesday, the BC Real Estate Association reported 19,214 active listings across the province in October, a nearly 40 percent drop from October 2020 and a record low.

The Multiple Listing Service registered a total of 9,593 sales, a decrease of 13.7 percent from last October, while the average residential price was $ 964,777, an increase of 18.9 percent.

The steepest decline in homes for sale was in the Fraser Valley, where there were 53 percent fewer homes listed in October compared to the same period last year. Kamloops saw a 49 percent drop, followed by Vancouver with 47 percent and Victoria with 55 percent.


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In the Greater Vancouver area, where median home prices are highest, the ratio of sales to active ads reached nearly 42 sales per 100 ads.

Other regions are in even smaller supply: Chilliwack’s share reached 84.5 in October, while Victoria was just under 94 percent and the Fraser Valley was 69 percent.

Analysts say a ratio of sales to active listings of 20 or more indicates a seller’s market, where there are more people looking for a home than there are available houses.

“The province-wide story is still the record low for listings,” said Brendon Ogmundson, chief economist at BCREA, which represents some 23,000 realtors across the province.

“Rising mortgage rates should begin to dampen sales activity next year, but even with a moderation in demand, it will take a long time for home inventory to return to a healthy level.”


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Matteazzi said the impacts of the pandemic are still being felt in the Fraser Valley housing market, as people who found themselves working from home wanted more space as commuting had become less of a factor. Some people who sold at the start of COVID, believing that the housing market would collapse and allow them to buy again for less, were discounted as prices rose.

“It’s always difficult to time the market,” he said. “If it’s your primary residence, buy and keep. Never play with your primary residence. “

The real estate agent predicted that rising mortgage rates next year will not cause a drop, but rather “stabilization and a slow build-up of inventory.”

With files from Cheryl Chan

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