Despite pandemic, Greater Victoria housing market heats up

Despite pandemic, Greater Victoria housing market heats up
WatchThe weather is hot these days, but the real estate market is even hotter. After a dismal spring where the market all but shut down, things are different. Very different. Mary Griffin reports.

Victora realtor Stephen Foster regularly post homes he’s selling on social media, such as a character house listed in June in the Fernwood neighbourhood.

It was a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home on Belmont Avenue, built in 1922.  Foster thought it might be up for sale a little longer but he had multiple offers within two days of listing.

“A single-family home in a beautiful tree-lined neighbourhood, with kids walking outside, close to coffee shops, with walkable amenities.  You can’t go wrong,” Foster said.

READ MORE:  Victoria Real Estate Board sees busy June and July amid COVID-19 pandemic

In Greater Victoria, the pandemic slowed down the real estate market to a crawl in March and April.

But the market is rebounding, according to Sandi-Jo Ayers, the Victoria Real Estate Board President.

“We feel like we are back into the hot market in the mid-2000s,” Ayers said.

There was a 21 per cent increase in sales in June 2020 for all properties in Greater Victoria compared to the same time period in 2019.

But it really takes off in July with a 39 per cent across the board increase compared to July 2019. Condo sales are up 11 percent in July, compared with the same time last year. But the biggest increase is single-family homes with a 61-per cent hike in the number of properties sold from July 2019 to July 2020. And the prices are up, too.  The benchmark price is up almost six per cent at $910,400.

Even the experts are surprised by the market, including Tom Davidoff, University of British Columbia Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate associate professor.

“I have to say, with the amount of unemployment and uncertainty, it’s very very surprising. One thing you can point to is very low-interest rates. When you get into a recession, safe money gets cheap,” Davidoff said.

And no one anticipates the demand for homes on southern Vancouver Island to go away anytime soon.

“I think we’ll continue seeing a significant amount of interest. It will go up and down as markets always do. but I think we’ll continue to see a lot of interest here,” Foster said.


Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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