BC Housing Markets Off to a Strong Start in 2020

Vancouver, BC – February, 2020. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 4,426 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in January 2020, an increase of 23.7 per cent from the 3,579 units sold in January 2019. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $725,370, a 9.1 per cent increase from $664,633 recorded the previous year. Total sales dollar volume in January was $3.2 billion, a 35 per cent increase over 2019.

“Housing markets in BC are off to a strong start in 2020,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “We expect a much more typical year of home sales in 2020 as markets recover from the policy-induced slowdown of the past two years.”

Total MLS® residential active listings fell 12.6 per cent to 25,790 units compared to the same month last year. The ratio of sales to active residential listings increased to 17.2 per cent from just 12.1 per cent last January.

“While many markets are showing strong signs of recovery, the struggling forestry sector is having a clear impact on housing demand, particularly in the North and parts of Vancouver Island,” added Ogmundson.

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

Canadian Housing Starts (Jan) – Feb, 2020

Canadian housing starts increased by 8.8% m/m in January to 213,224 units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR). The increase was led by Ontario and Quebec. The trend in national housing starts fell, averaging about 211,000 units SAAR over the past six months.

In BC, housing starts fell by 39% m/m to 26,237 units SAAR, which follows last month’s strong reporting of 42,864 units. The last time provincial sales were this low was May 2015. The inclement weather in the province likely delayed starts for many projects so we could expect a pick-up in the following months. Compared to the same time last year, provincial starts were down by 39%.

Looking at census metropolitan areas in BC:

Housing starts in Vancouver were down by 53% in January to 12,927 units SAAR. Compared to last year in January, housing starts were down by 49%. The decline was largely due to a contraction in the volatile multi-unit segment (-54%), though singles were also down (-21%).

In Victoria, housing starts were down by 79% m/m to 698 units SAAR, entirely driven by the multi-unit segment. Compared to a year ago in January, housing starts were down by 76%.

In Kelowna, housing starts increased by 77% m/m to 1,610 units SAAR, following low levels reported in the previous month. The increase was due to the multi-unit segment. Year-over-year starts were down by 62% in the region.

Monthly housing starts in Abbotsford-Mission were up by 20% at 3,000 units SAAR. Multi-unit starts were up 29%, while singles were down by 37% in the region. Compared to the same time last year, new home construction was up by 270%.  

For more information, please contact:  Gino Pezzani.

Canadian Employment (January) – February, 2020

Another good news report on the Canadian employment front. January reported an increase of 35,000 jobs (0.2%), adding to the increase reported in the previous month. This brought the national unemployment rate down from 5.6% in December to 5.5% in January.

Regionally, increases were primarily in Quebec (19,000), Manitoba (6,500) and New Brunswick (4,600). In contrast, employment was down in Alberta (-19,000). January’s increase was entirely driven by full-time work with gains in manufacturing, construction and agriculture, while the services sector saw little change. Compared to the same month last year, Canadian employment is up by 1.4%.

Meanwhile, employment in BC rose by 3,400 jobs (0.1%) in January, following last month’s decline of 6,300 jobs. Part-time work was the main driver of the increase. By industry, employment gains were reported in just under half of the sub-sectors, led by manufacturing and trade. The provincial unemployment rate fell by 0.3 percentage points to 4.5%. Compared to one year ago, employment in BC is down by 0.1% (1,500) jobs.

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.