The highest interest rates Canadians have seen in over two decades "kept a lid" on the housing market, resulting in the lowest sale numbers the Fraser Valley has seen in a decade, according to new statistics published by the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) on Thursday.

In 2023, the Fraser Valley recorded a grand total of 14,713 home sales, which was not just the lowest total in a decade, but also 23% below the 10-year average and 4% below 2022.

On the supply side, the total of 29,610 listings that hit the market over the course of the year was also a 10-year low and 8% below the 10-year average.

Those two factors, however, did not result in prices decreasing, as the composite residential benchmark price closed the year at $988,900, which represents a 5% increase over 2022.

"Back-to-back mid-year interest rate hikes slowed the market despite strong sales and new listings in the spring," said FVREB Chair Narinder Bains. "This left the market in overall balance for the latter half of the year, albeit at low levels of activity. We anticipate 2024 will bring increased optimism on behalf of buyers and sellers as the Bank of Canada is expected to lower interest rates before mid-year."

December 2023

The Fraser Valley ended the year with a total of 837 home sales in December, which was a minor 6% decrease from the 891 sold in November — a drop-off that is to be expected considering seasonal trends.

A total of 942 new listings entered the market in December, which was a significant 54% decrease from the 2,030 added in November. With those new additions, the number of active listings in the Fraser Valley is now at 4,670, which is a 25% drop-off from November.

All three measures, however, represent increases compared to December 2022.

Based on those statistics, the sales-to-active listings ratio — where 12% or lower is considered a buyers' market and 20% or higher is considered a sellers' market — is now at 18%, which indicates market balance.

By property type, the benchmark price is now $1,471,500 for single-family homes, which represents a minor 1.2% decrease from November 2023 and a more significant 7.1% increase from December 2022. The sales-to-active-listings ratio for single-family homes ended the year at 16%, again indicating market balance.

For townhouses, the benchmark price is now at $826,400, a 1.3% decrease from November 2023 and a 5.3% increase from December 2022. The sales-to-active-listings ratio, however, was at 29%, indicating that there is likely an advantage to be found if you're looking to sell your townhouse.

For condominiums, the benchmark price ended the year at $537,600, which represents a 1.4% decrease compared to November and a 6.9% increase compared to December 2022. Again, the sales-to-active-listings ratio, at 26%, shows that the market may currently be leaning in favour of sellers.

"2023 saw buyers and sellers adjust to new rate realities, and the impact of those high rates were reflected in the low number of sales in the Fraser Valley," said FVREB CEO Baldev Gill. "However, as rates start to ease, we expect market activity will pick up."

The Bank of Canada's next policy interest rate announcement is scheduled for Wednesday, January 24.