A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, B.C., on June, 12, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward)

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, B.C., on June, 12, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward)

Vancouver’s real estate market up 22% in 2020, despite pandemic

December’s sales were almost 58 per cent higher than same month’s 10-year average

  • Jan. 5, 2021 8:00 p.m.

Unexpected and unpredictable – that’s the sentiment coming from newly-released 2020 real estate numbers for Metro Vancouver.

With its busiest-ever December, Metro Vancouver’s 2020 real estate numbers were buoyed by a total housing sale increase of 22 per cent – rising from 25,351 in 2019 to 30,944 in 2020, according to Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

Board chair Colette Gerber said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the real estate market took a heavy hit in March. “We knew, however, that shelter needs don’t go away in times of crisis, they intensify.”

After adapting to the new normal of pandemic protocols, and managing expectations of what the future would hold, home buyer demand and seller supply returned strongly in the fall, with the added boost of low-interest rates, fueling interest.

With a benchmark price of $676,500 for an apartment, and $1.55-million for a detached house, December’s sales were almost 58 per cent higher than the average December over the last 10 years.

“Robust December sales outpaced long-term averages in what’s traditionally the quietest month of the year in real estate. This was part of an unusual seasonal pattern the market followed last year, which can be attributed in large part to the pandemic,” Gerber said.

Adil Dinani, Royal LePage real estate advisor, suggested that due to the pandemic “the definition of what a ‘home’ is for people has become crystal clear,” and that is what is driving record-breaking growth.

“If you’re a buyer, maybe you need more space. If you’re a seller, maybe you’re realizing you need less space. I think you have priorities that have come to the forefront of the market,” Dinani said.

Seeing a shift away from the condo market in the first half of 2020, Dinani suggested that the migration of homeowners to the eastern parts of Metro Vancouver will continue in 2021, and the freeing up of entry-level homes, in response.

With interest rates at record breaking lows, first home buyers could finally get their foot in the door. “First time buyers that were renting before are now saying, ‘Wow, now, I can almost own for a similar monthly expenses as renting,’” Dinani said.

However, with a 23-per-cent reduction in available listings comparatively to this time last year, the market is still in a favorable position for those seeking to sell.

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