February detached house sales on the Westside, at 62 transactions, were up 21.6% from February 2019 and the highest for any month since November of last year. But sellers expecting an early 2020 price rally were likely disappointed. The benchmark detached house price in February was down 0.5% from a month earlier and remains 3.9% below the price a year ago, at $2.91 million. But there has been a shift in the Westside market that we detected late in 2019: increased action at the higher-end of the price scale. We believe this mirrors a buyer realization that prices have come off the most for luxury listings in what are considered premium neighbourhoods. In some cases, such prime properties are now selling for 20 per cent less than they were three years ago.
The Eastside detached house market regained a definitive balance in February. The sales-to-new-listing ratio was 55%, the benchmark price was exactly the same, at $1.4 million, as it was In January (though up 2.2% from three months earlier) and house sales were reported in 14 of the 16 Eastside neighbourhoods we monitor. Renfrew, however, was a true outlier, posting nearly a quarter of the detached sales in February as buyers gravitated to one of the lowest benchmark house prices of any Vancouver neighborhood, particularly one with SkyTrain service. We pointed out last month that Renfrew was a prime community for buyers who are including the SkyTrain extension to UBC and Vancouver’s tight rental market in their long-term investment strategy. At a February benchmark of $1.27 million, a detached house in Renfrew is priced lower than most major suburbs and $1.7 million less than houses on the Westside, just three transit stops away. We suspect that the spike in Renfrew detached sales last month may include a quiet lot assembly as developers position for the next stage in the Broadway Corridor’s evolution.
If there has been one constant in Vancouver it is the ongoing love affair with condominium ownership. Despite a blizzard of government policies to cool demand, the highest prices in the country and a recent construction pace that would overwhelm most markets, condos are selling in Vancouver at a near feverish pace. Since New Years day, 1,875 condo apartments have sold in Metro Vancouver, up more than 500 transactions from the same time in 2019. The City of Vancouver, which has the highest condo prices in the region, is the most popular for buyers, who purchased 379 condos in the city in February at an average price of more than $800,000.
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