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COVID-19 takes a bite out of the housing market

House sales were down in the North during the first six months of the year, due largely to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BC Northern Real Estate Board (BCNREB) reports 1,786 properties sold through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS®) in the first six months of 2020, down from the 2,298 sales reported in the first half of 2019. The value of these properties was $538.6 million compared with $716.5 million in 2019At the end of June, there were 3,489 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS® of BCNREB, down from 4,073 at the same time last year.

“The first half of 2020 saw a significant decline in housing demand in the region, with sales in April reaching a low not seen since January 1988,” said BCNREB President Shawna Kinsley. “Despite the region’s struggling forestry, and mining and oil sectors, the decline in the second quarter was primarily due to the state of emergency declared by the province that implemented physical-distancing measures. This halted real estate activity across the province, which is highly reliant on in-person interactions. Moreover, significant job losses were reported in the services sector in the region, and large projects such as LNG and BC Hydro paused work that was deemed non-essential.”

As a result, total MLS® unit sales in the region covered by the BC Northern Real Estate Board fell by 30 per cent in the second quarter year-over-year. Despite the pullback in demand, prices increased by two per cent year-over-year due to an 18 per cent year-over-year decline in active listings as potential sellers put off listing their properties. At the end of the second quarter, the MLS® average price was $329,364.

Looking ahead, the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) expect MLS® sales in the region to continue to be weak for the rest of the year due to the slowdown in economic activity brought on by the global pandemic. BCREA is forecasting that total MLS® unit sales will fall by almost 18 per cent in 2020. Meanwhile, as the BC economy begins to gradually reopen and demand starts to pick up, resale supply will be slow to respond and the pace of new housing is expected to slow as well with housing starts forecast to fall almost 19 per cent in central regions like Prince George. As such, BCREA forecast MLS® average prices to rise by 2.3 per cent in 2020.

Fraser Fort George Region:

Prince George: In the City of Prince George, 520 properties worth $180.2 million have changed hands so far this year, compared with 697 properties worth $245.7 million in the first six months of last year. In the western part of the City, the median price of the 84 single-family homes that have sold through MLS® was $353,000. In the area east of the bypass, the 67 single-family homes that sold had a median price of $286,000. In the northern part of the city 71 single-family homes sold with a median price of $385,000. The 99 single-family homes that sold in the southwest section of the City had a median sale price of $450,000. At the end of June there were 614 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS® in the City of Prince George.

Mackenzie: In the first six months of 2020, 18 properties worth $2.9 million were reported sold through the MLS® in the Mackenzie area, compared to 23 properties worth $3.4 million to June 30, 2019. Half of the 12 single-family homes sold so far this year sold for less than $150,000 and took, on average, 154 days to sell. As of June 30th, there were 76 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS® in the Mackenzie area.

Cariboo Region:

100 Mile House: 174 properties worth $46 million have changed hands through the MLS® in the area since January 1st. This compares with 207 properties worth $52.8 million in the same period in 2019. Half of the 56 homes that sold so far this year, sold for $305,000 or less and, on average, it took 104 days for these homes to sell. Also reported sold were 52 parcels of vacant land, 28 homes on acreage, 4 manufactured homes in parks, 12 on land, and 12 recreational properties. At the end of June there were 441 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS® in the 100 Mile House area.

Williams Lake: 150 properties have sold so far this year, compared to 241 properties by June 30, 2019. The value of these properties is $42.2 million ($63.7 million in 2019). Of the 59 single-family homes sold this year, half sold for less than $314,000 and these homes took, on average, 49 days to sell. In addition, 19 parcels of vacant land, 9 townhouses, 35 homes on acreage, 15 manufactured homes in parks and 6 manufactured homes on land changed hands in the first six months of 2020. At the end of June there were 235 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS® in the Williams Lake area.

Quesnel: In the Quesnel area, REALTORS® reported 141 sales worth $30.6 million so far this year, compared to 154 sales worth $42.3 million in the first six months of 2019. Of the 53 single-family homes sold between January and June, half sold for less than $285,500; these homes took, on average, 45 days to sell. In addition, 27 parcels of vacant land, 21 homes on acreage, 10 manufactured homes in parks and 17 manufactured homes on land have sold in the first six months of 2020. As of June 30th, there were 198 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS® in the Quesnel area.

Northwest Region:

Prince Rupert: 89 properties worth $29.9 million have been reported sold through the MLS® in the Prince Rupert area so far this year, compared to 89 properties worth $23.5 million in the first half of 2019. The median price of the 62 single-family homes that sold was $320,000. On average, it took these homes 88 days to sell. As of June 30th, there were 101 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS® in the area.

Terrace: REALTORS® in the Terrace area sold 105 properties worth $34.1 million in the first six months of 2020, compared to 134 properties worth $45.6 million in the same period last year. Half of the 55 single-family homes that sold, sold for less than $370,000. On average, it took these homes 58 days to sell. In addition, 10 parcels of vacant land, 1 half-duplex, and 14 homes on acreage changed hands in the first 6 months of the year. At the end of June there were 253 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS® in the Terrace area.

Kitimat: 48 properties worth $15 million have sold through the MLS® in the Kitimat area in the first six months of 2020, compared to 71 properties worth $37.7 million at this time last year. Half of the 31 single-family homes sold so far this year sold for less than $325,000 and, on average, it took these homes 89 days to sell. At the end of June there were 140 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS® in the Kitimat area.

Bulkley Nechako Region:

Houston: 14 properties worth $2.5 million have changed hands so far this year, compared to 28 properties worth $5.2 million in 2019. As of June 30th, there were 34 properties of all types available through the MLS® in the Houston area.

Smithers: REALTORS® in the Smithers area reported 90 sales with a value of $28.1 million in the first six months of 2020, compared to 113 sales worth $35.3 million at this time last year. Half of the 39 single-family homes sold so far this year sold for less than $311,000 and took, on average, 66 days to sell. 10 parcels of vacant land and 17 homes on acreage also changed hands since January 1st. As of June 30th, there were 112 properties of all types available through MLS® in the Smithers area.

Burns Lake: In the first six months of 2020, 17 properties worth $2.7 million were reported sold through the MLS® in the Burns Lake area, compared to 37 properties worth $5.6 million in the same time-period last year. At the end of June there were 81 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS® in the Burns Lake area.

Vanderhoof: REALTORS® in the Vanderhoof area reported 56 sales worth $13 million in the first six months of the year, compared to 61 sales worth $19 million to June 30, 2019. As of June 30th, there were 103 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS® in the Vanderhoof area.

Fort St. James: 27 properties worth $5.3 million have sold through the MLS® in the Fort St. James area so far this year, compared with 26 properties worth $4.6 million in the first six months of 2019. At the end of June there were 50 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS® in the Fort St. James area.

Northern Region:

Fort St. John: REALTORS® assisted in the sale of 188 properties worth $63.6 million in the first half of 2020, compared to 258 properties worth $85.4 million in the first six months of 2019. The 90 single-family homes which sold so far this year had a median selling price of $353,000 and it took, on average, 83 days for these homes to sell. In addition, 9 parcels of vacant land, 25 half-duplexes, 21 homes on acreage, 14 manufactured homes in parks and 8 manufactured homes on land changed hands so far this year. As of June 30th, there were 669 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS® in the Fort St. John area.

Fort Nelson: 35 properties worth $4.3 million have sold since January 1st, compared to 16 properties worth $1.3 million in the same period last year. Half of the 15 single-family homes sold since January sold for less than $97,000. These homes took, on average, 199 days to sell. At the end of June, there were 98 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS® in the Fort Nelson area.

Average Selling Price (Year to Date)

MLS® Reported Sales – Residential Detached House

BC NORTHERN REAL ESTATE BOARD

CommunityJune 30, 2018UnitsJune 30, 2019UnitsJune 30, 2020Units
100 Mile House283,37369318,92461332,78056
Williams Lake286,04890306,24977318,78359
Quesnel241,49570281,05558287,79153
Prince Rupert301,16787285,81765331,02062
Houston175,97711179,94520197,4829
Smithers314,95450294,78353318,24339
Burns Lake140,4717134,06913197,5004
Vanderhoof235,72223225,90719220,32520
Fort St. James219,63611239,55010197,26612
Fort St. John364,635151382,401129369,72390
Fort Nelson113,69020137,1505102,00515
Mackenzie181,37823183,03116162,59012
Prince George356,478453366,073449389,985322
Terrace321,98599386,49476370,89155
Kitimat256,57671392,12842342,45231

Consumers are reminded that real estate is a local commodity and average price can only give an indication of trends. Contact a REALTOR® in your community to determine the value of specific properties.

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