This house listed for sale for $489,000 on Ashby Drive in Chilliwack is about what you can get for the average home sale price in CADREB in November 2017. (Realtor.ca)

Chilliwack real estate sales and prices remain hot

New mortgage rules coming in January could hurt some first-time homebuyers

There are fewer homes for sale than ever in Chilliwack and what is on the market continues to be snapped up.

Despite the lowest number of listings in over a decade, November home sales in the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB) area were up 12.7 per cent over November 2016.

The 284 sales last month at an average residential sale price of $484,753 is up from 252 sales at an average price of $429,276 a year ago.

And while single family home sales continue to dominate the market, apartments are finally gaining in popularity.

“While single family home sales increased by 10 per cent, the biggest leader was apartment units, with a 32 per cent increase,” said CADREB president Greg Nord-Leth in a press release. “This is significant, as it typically represents a first-time buyer, which helps greatly in spurring the local economy.”

(The CADREB area includes Chilliwack, Yarrow, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs, Hope, Boston Bar and the regions in between.)

• RELATED: Highest ever October real estate sales in Chilliwack

While 54 apartment sales doesn’t sound like a lot, it represents a 157 per cent increase over the average November apartment sales total (21) over the last 10 years, from 2007 to 2016.

The average sale price last month of those apartments was $235,508, a relative bargain in the Lower Mainland, and up 21 per cent over the average sale price of $194,620 a year ago.

As for single family homes, the 154 sold last month for an average price of $580,996 is up from the 138 sold November 2016 for an average of $494,190, a 17.6 per cent price jump.

The category with the most homes (30) sold was in the $600,000 to $650,000 range, with six homes selling for more than $1 million.

With Christmas just weeks away, a typically slower period for real estate sales, CADREB is reminding people that anyone pre-qualified for a mortgage might want to act quickly with new rules coming down in January.

“Not only will potential homeowners need to qualify based on today’s mortgage rates and be within a certain percentage of income going to housing, they will need to pass a stress test, based on their ability to withstand a hike in rates,” explained Nord-Leth.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack-Hope MP calls on Ottawa to rollback tougher mortgage rules

That new stress test means potential homebuyers have to be able to afford a minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages that is higher than the mortgage they actually get. The purpose is to protect people from rising interest rates pushing payments higher than they can afford.

The practical reality, however, is that purchasing power drops in the new year.

“This may result in some potential homeowners down-grading their expectations,” Nord-Leth said.

Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl has spoken out strongly against the new rules instituted by the federal government.

“These changes are taking away that dream of home ownership from thousands of first-time home buyers,” Strahl said in a press release back in March. “We have been hearing across the country that these Liberal changes are hurting Canadians.”

CADREB said the new rules will hit hardest in the bigger cities where home prices are much higher. The spin off, too, may be more and more regional in-migration to Chilliwack further driving prices up here.

It definitely remains a sellers’ market, as despite 290 new listings coming onto the market in November, there were just 766 active listings on the local market, down from over 900 at the same time last year.

• RELATED: Chilliwack among top 10 B.C. cities to buy real estate


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paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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