Fewer sales and a slight increase in new listings have the Greater Victoria Real Estate Board apparently hoping the market is becoming more balanced.

“The numbers we saw in April are a further indication that the market is gradually moving toward a more balanced state compared to the record-setting pace of 2016,” VREB president Ara Balabanian said Monday.

There were 885 properties sold in the region last month, well below the 1,286 sold in the same month in 2016 — and even below the 929 that sold in March of this year. The 10-year average for sales in April is 772 sales.

“We are starting to see hints of a more traditional spring market. Local agricultural production has been delayed due to the late spring, and so has the local real estate market,” Balabanian said. “More sellers listed their homes for sale over the month of April compared to the month previous.”

But real estate veteran Tony Joe of Remax Camosun said the market “is a long way from balanced.” “We literally would need to see 1,500 new listings come on in a month for things to start balancing out,” he said, noting the market has slowed down in terms of sales because there’s so little available to buy. “There is no inventory. It’s like going to the store looking for a loaf of bread and finding empty shelves,” he said.

There were 1,690 active listings at the end of April 2017. That’s a slight improvement over the 1,556 in March, but well off the 2,594 active listings at the end of April 2016. “But the interest level is still out there. There are people still jumping on properties right away,” Joe said, noting that has led to multiple offers, over-the-asking-price sales and many deals being done with no conditions.

“The reason there’s [no inventory] is people want to move, but while they know it’s relatively easy to sell, they know there’s nothing for them to move to,” he said. That, combined with a rental market with few available units, means there is no option for people who want to list their properties. “It’s deadlocked right now,” Joe said. “It’s a question of when the shift will happen. And it has to at some point — it can’t stay like this forever.

The problem is everyone wants to be here. I don’t think they get the same problem in Winnipeg.” Joe said the fact there were fewer sales in April than in March is an anomaly and symptom of the problem the market faces. “Again, that’s down to inventory level. Traditionally, that comes up by now. So [lower April sales] is a first, but only by virtue of that fact,” he said.

Source: Victoria Times Colonist, May 2, 2017

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