VANCOUVER -- While home sales in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley dipped at the start of 2012, other regions across B.C. heated up, according to the British Columbia Real Estate Association.
The number of houses sold in the Vancouver region through Multiple Listing Service was down 13.4 per cent in January from the same month last year, the industry group said Wednesday.
In addition, the average price of a Vancouver home declined slightly, from $762,562 in January 2011 to $752,380 this year — a difference of 1.3 per cent.
In the Fraser Valley, sales dipped by 3.1 per cent during the same time period. However, prices rose 6.4 per cent from an average of $441,544 last year to $469,635 in 2012.
Meanwhile, B.C.’s northwest and northeast regions, Kamloops and Victoria saw sales gains of more than 10 per cent.
The biggest jump occurred in B.C.’s northwest region, where the average house price increased 14.2 per cent — from $214,357 to $244,872 — in the 12 months from January 2011.
Powell River, with an average price of $209,636, recorded the least expensive homes in the province — a figure down 1.2 per cent ($212,078) over January 2011.
Cameron Muir, chief economist with the BCREA, said consumer demand driven by low mortgage interest rates saw modest improvements in January from a year ago, despite a decline in provincial sales activity.
Across Canada, home sales were down 4.5 per cent in January from the same month one year earlier, while the number of newly listed homes edged down 1.4 per cent.
“This marks the first monthly decline in national activity since August 2011 and the biggest monthly decline since July 2010,” the Canadian Real Estate Association stated.
“The monthly decline reversed a string of monthly increases over the closing months of last year, and returned national activity to where it stood at the end of the third quarter of 2011.
January’s sales declines were led by Greater Toronto and Montreal, as well as a softening in other major centres such as Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Ottawa.
Still, unadjusted sales last month were up four per cent from January 2011 and were even with the five- and 10-year averages for January sales, it said.
“The national housing market is stabilizing and remains well balanced,” said CREA president Gary Morse.
“That said, forecasts for economic and job growth going forward vary widely for different parts of the country, suggesting a possible continuation of a softening trend in some markets, as well as the potential that demand will pick up based on strong fundamentals in others.”