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Vancouver home sales surge 71 per cent in December

Home sales soared 71 per cent in Greater Vancouver last month.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

Home sales soared 71 per cent in Greater Vancouver last month, though the gains are forecast to be more modest in 2014.

There were 1,953 properties that changed hands on the Multiple Listing Service in December, up sharply from 1,142 homes sold in December, 2012, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said Friday.

It marked the eighth consecutive month that the region has experienced a year-over-year gain in monthly sales, following a 19-month slump in volume before sales began picking up last May.

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"It's nice to be up that much, but December of 2012 was a pretty low number," B.C. Real Estate Association chief economist Cameron Muir said in an interview. "What we've seen in 2013 is a bouncing back of demand towards more longer-term average levels."

Sales last month were 8.1 per cent higher than the 10-year average of 1,807 for December. For the full 12 months in 2013, MLS sales for detached homes, condos and townhouses totalled 28,524, up 14 per cent from 25,032 sales in 2012.

Mr. Muir predicts that in 2014, Greater Vancouver's annual sales volume will climb more than 8 per cent to 30,900, while prices rise almost 1 per cent.

Board president Sandra Wyant described 2013 as a year of stability, with modest price increases.

Benchmark index prices, which strip out the most expensive properties, were $603,400 last month for existing single-family detached homes, condos and townhouses – up 2.1 per cent from December, 2012. Benchmark prices for detached houses on Vancouver's closely watched West Side climbed 5 per cent to more than $2.1-million, while prices rose 4.6 per cent to $867,200 on the East Side.

In the Fraser Valley, which includes the sprawling and less-expensive Vancouver suburb of Surrey, there were 890 homes that sold in December, up 34 per cent from the same month in 2012. Benchmark index prices were $422,100 for the three housing categories in December, up 0.4 per cent from the same month in 2012.

December's single-family home index prices climbed 2 per cent in the Fraser Valley to $549,500. But prices for condos and townhouses in some districts remain soft amid new units hitting the market. In Mission, for instance, condo prices averaged $162,050 last year, off 0.4 per cent from 2012 and down 17.6 per cent from 2008. In Abbotsford, condo prices averaged $162,075, up 1.4 per cent over the past year but down 18 per cent since 2008.

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Sales volume in the Fraser Valley totalled 13,663 last year for the three housing types, down 1.5 per cent from 2012. Prices for existing single-family detached homes averaged $615,852 last year, up 3 per cent from $597,608 in 2012. Average prices for townhouses slipped 0.7 per cent to $337,811 while condo prices fell 0.4 per cent to $219,196.

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About the Author

Brent Jang is a business reporter in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. He joined the Globe in 1995. His former positions include transportation reporter in Toronto, energy correspondent in Calgary and Western columnist for Report on Business. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway student newspaper. Mr. More


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