|Early Data for June Housing Mixed
Local real estate boards report that GTA home sales jumped again in June, while home sales fell to a 19-year low in the GVA. This continues a well-established pattern.
GTA sales were up 10% year-over-year last month. New listings fell 0.4%. Buyers started moving off the sidelines in the spring, while new listings remained virtually unchanged, so market conditions have tightened, and price growth has picked up, especially for condos as more affordable housing has outperformed.
In direct contrast, sales in the GVA were down 14.4% year-over-year last month and are a whopping 34.7% below the 10-year average for June according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver–the slowest sales pace for June since 2000. Moreover, the residential benchmark price slipped to $998,700, down from a record high of $1.1 million in May 2018. The benchmark figure, an industry representation of the typical home sold in Greater Vancouver, has declined month-over-month for the 13th consecutive time.
The slowdown in the Greater Vancouver housing market is the result of intentional actions by regulators and government. Provincial actions compounded the January 2018 introduction of the B-20 stress-testing rules, which made it more challenging to qualify for a mortgage. Since February 2018, the provincial government has rolled out tax measures, including a ‘speculation and vacancy tax’ targeted primarily at out-of-province residents who don’t rent their homes. Also, there are new taxes on properties valued at more than $3-million, such as an extra land-transfer tax and an annual surtax. Last year, the province also raised the foreign-buyers tax to 20% from 15% in the Vancouver region while also expanding the tax to other urban BC markets.
Also, the province is about to publish a property ownership registry to reveal the actual owners of all properties to combat money laundering through real estate transactions. Formerly, many properties were registered in the name of numbered companies. As well, the Chinese government is now enforcing capital export limitations and penalizing those who broke these restrictions in the past. The new registry will make these activities far more transparent and could well contribute to the weakness in foreign transactions in BC, where foreigners accounted for a proportionately more significant share of the housing market than in other parts of Canada. The recent turmoil in Hong Kong might change these dynamics, but it is too soon to tell.