Updated October 4, 2019
Compared to a year ago, Victoria house prices are lower while condo and townhome prices are up slightly. At this point, considering price trends in Metro Vancouver, it seems likely that Victoria home prices will drop in the near to medium-term.
Some people blame higher interest rates and tighter mortgage rules for the weaker market, but these arguments don’t hold much weight. Mortgage rates are still at rock-bottom lows and the market weakness began in 2016 when foreign buyer taxes came into effect rather than in 2018 with the introduction of the stress test. Victoria and B.C. house prices have primarily weakened because foreign direct investment has shifted to Toronto and Ottawa.
This article covers:
Where are Victoria prices headed?
What are Purchase and Listing Trends ?
Should investors sell?
Is this a good time to buy?
The good news (for buyers) is that prices are dropping in Victoria, but the not-so-good news is that prices are still beyond the reach of a median Victoria household.
Since the peak of June 2018, Victoria house prices dropped and then recovered, but still remain below their peak price. As the market heads into the Fall and Winter, we expect a return to price reductions.
Victoria house prices are surprisingly volatile so if you’re looking to buy or sell your home in the next three years, you should definitely pay close attention to recent trends with fewer buyers and more homes for sale.
Metro Vancouver is still the hardest hit population center in BC. Prices there have dropped over $200,000 since their peak in September 2017!
Victoria condo prices have skyrocketed to a June 2019 price near $510,000. In recent months condo prices have “teetered” and it’s not clear whether they will continue upward or tumble instead. Considering the price drops in Vancouver it seems likely that Victoria will follow. If prices fall, it is good news for first-time home buyers. The benchmark Victoria condo is almost affordable without help from the “bank of mom and dad”.
Victoria townhouse prices are headed in the same direction as condos. Since house prices have dropped while townhouse prices leveled off, the gap between the two has narrowed. For townhouse owners seeking to upgrade to a full house, this could be a great opportunity.
Although Victoria home prices have cooled off they are still not very affordable. To put this into perspective, a first-time home buyer household earning $75,000 can only get a $320,000 mortgage. This makes it painfully obvious that to buy an entry level $500,000 condo, a first-time home buyer needs to save a $180,000 cash down payment or receive a very generous gift from mom and dad. For most people, that’s just not on the cards.
Most analysts expect Victoria prices to stay flat in 2019 or drop 1%. We at Mortgage Sandbox expect Victoria prices to end 2019 1% higher than they began but headed on a downward trend.
The brunt of price drops will likely be felt by higher priced properties (i.e., more expensive neighbourhoods and detached single-family houses). Metro Vancouver house prices have dropped 10% in the past year.
Given the forecasts, the current market weakness, and the increased downward price pressure, prices will likely remain flat or drop for the next few months. As well, homebuyers and homeowners shouldn’t expect much price appreciation between now and the end of 2020.
What does this mean exactly? Well, the market for all homes (detached, townhome, condo) are all trending toward a position where buyers have equal power to sellers. The positive outcomes for buyers are lower prices, more selection, fewer bidding wars, and ultimately a little less stress.
The markets are not officially made it to full-blown balanced market though. While the market is trending balance, it’s currently in a seller’s market (i.e., sellers still have a negotiating advantage). Take note that as supply has increased, Victoria home prices have dropped. This means that the current Victoria home prices may be unsustainable in a healthy balanced market. So, if new construction completions later this year push the market into balance or a full-blown buyer’s advantage then we could see major prices discounts in 2020. Yay for first-time home buyers!
In most months of 2019, purchases have been slower than prior years while the number of homes for sale keeps rising. Our research suggests that foreign buyers are moving on to other cities and countries. These days Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal are most popular.
The number of Victoria houses sold is trending slightly below past years while the number Victoria houses listed for sale has been trending a little higher than past years. Over time, these trends of lower demand and higher supply lead to reduced prices.
In contrast, the number of Victoria condo and townhouse purchases (sales) have been more consistent with previous years BUT we are seeing dramatically higher active listings. Basic economic theory tells us that we can expect this to lead to condo and townhouse price reductions.
People buying condos intending to rent them to students are taking on some risk since the BC Government is planning to fund construction of more subsidized student housing on university campuses like the University of Victoria. The risk is somewhat mitigated because those student residences will take several years to be built.
At Mortgage Sandbox, we break down our market analysis to five key forces: affordability, capital flows, government policy, supply and popular sentiment. We’ve completed a full analysis if the impact of these factors on Metro Vancouver and Victoria is facing a similar situation. Read the full report to understand how these factors are affecting prices.
From a seller’s perspective, now is a better time to sell than in two years as CMHC, a Government of Canada Agency predicts that house prices will be flat or drop for the next two years.
To benefit from the best-case scenario, a home buyer should talk to their mortgage broker about prioritizing flexible loan conditions and mitigating risk. Find out more about the benefits of a mortgage broker.
There’s potential for an overwhelming surge in supply and this would bring more downward pressure on prices.
In February 2019, 6,100 homes were under construction in Metro Victoria (1,800 in the City of Victoria). These homes will be completed in 2019 and 2020. If a significant number of those homes were pre-purchased with the intention to flip them, they could bring a lot of supply to the market.
With buyers gaining negotiating power, 2019 is a good time to buy. However, 2020 may be even better. However, with many homes on the market this Fall and less buyer interest, a buyer will have an easier time choosing a home that matches their wishlist without having to worry about competing buyers.
If you are thinking of buying just be sure to drive a hard bargain, and cover your bases with smart and educated decisions. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Buying a home is a big decision, so check out Mortgage Sandbox’s Canadian Home Buyer Guide so we can walk you through the end-to-end process and get you ready to buy your new home!
Here are some recent headlines you may be interested in:
Single-family sales activity in Victoria was noticeably stronger (Mortgage Broker News)
Victoria Ranked Third Most Expensive Real Estate Market in BC (Cowichan Valley Now)
Victoria council eyes forever rentals, but landlords say no way (Times Colonist)
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