January off to sluggish real-estate start

There weren
There weren't many homes in Richmond like this one, with a 'Sold' sign out front. January sales in the Lower Mainland was the second lowest level recorded for that month since 2001.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel photo

2013 is off to a sluggish start in the real estate industry, according to the latest figures from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

January sales in the region were the second lowest since 2001, and 18.7 per cent below the 10-year sales average for January.

Some sellers have decided to remove their homes from the market while demand remains below historical averages in the region.

"Home sale activity has been below historical averages in Greater Vancouver for about seven months. This has caused a gradual decline in home prices of about six per cent since reaching a peak last spring," board president Eugen Klein said.

The benchmark price of a home in the Greater Vancouver area reached $625,100 last May, and that figure has dropped 5.9 per cent to $588,100.

"It appears many home sellers are opting to remove their homes from the market rather than settle for a price they don't want," he said.

While sales of detached houses were better in January than the previous month, the numbers were down 29.2 per cent compared to a year ago, with 63 houses trading hands for a median selling price of $868,000, down 19.6 per cent compared to December, and down 11.3 per cent compared to January of 2012.

Though the median selling price of houses dropped sharply, condo and townhouse prices held relatively steady.

Last month, 43 townhomes were sold, up only slightly from December, and down 17 per cent compared to January 2012, with the median selling price up four per cent, month over month.

Likewise, 59 condos were sold last month, down 18 per cent compared to last year, for a median price of $345,950, up nearly five per cent in that same period.

The benchmark price of a house is now $933,100, down 6.3 per cent compared to a year ago, but still up 17.4 per cent compared to three years ago, and up 29.4 per cent compared to five years ago.

Klein added: "When a home seller isn't receiving the kind of offers they want, there comes a point when they decide to either lower the price or remove the home from the market. Right now, it seems many home sellers are opting for the latter."

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