Temperatures in Metro Vancouver have been abnormally high in recent weeks, and so has real estate market activity, according to the latest statistics published by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) on Friday.

According to REBGV, a total of 1,410 residential sales were recorded in January, which represents a 36.9% increase over the 1,030 recorded in January 2023.

"It's hard to believe that January sales figures came in so strong after such a quiet December, which saw many buyers and sellers delaying major decisions," said REBGV Director of Economics and Data Analytics Andrew Lis.

In December, Greater Vancouver recorded 1,333 residential sales, which is not too far off from January's total, but the December 2023 total was just a 3.2% improvement over December 2022, indicating a shift in the market over the last month.

The inventory side also saw a jump, with 3,788 new listings come online in January, which represents a 14.5% increase compared to the 3,308 added in January 2023.

The number of total active listings in Greater Vancouver is now up to 8,184, a 4.1% improvement over the 7,862 after January 2023. The 8,184 total remains below the 10-year seasonable average of 8,657, however.

Buyers Or Sellers

With the aforementioned statistics, we can identify the sales-to-new-listings ratio and sales-to-active-listings ratio, which are two quantitative indicators that give us a sense of whether the market is leaning in any particular direction — towards buyers or sellers.

For the sales-to-new-listings ratio, a ratio of 40% or lower is considered a buyers' market, a ratio of 55% or higher is considered a sellers' market, and anything in between is considered a balanced market.

With 1,410 home sales and 3,788 new listings recorded in January, the sales-to-new-listings ratio is now 37.2% — a sign that there may be an advantage to be found if you're a buyer.

For the sales-to-active-listings ratio, a ratio of 12% or lower is viewed as favouring buyers, a ratio of 20% or higher is viewed as favouring sellers, and anything in between is again viewed as a balanced market.

With 1,410 home sales and 8,184 total active listings in January, the sales-to-active-listings ratio is now 17.2%, after coming in at 16.0% after December — indicating a balanced market with slight movement towards sellers.

It's rare for the two ratios to be in conflict with one another, but such a statistical occurrence could indicate that the market is still sorting itself out.

"If sellers don’t step off the sidelines soon, the competition among buyers could tilt the market back into sellers' territory as the available inventory struggles to keep pace with demand," noted Lis.

Prices And Outlook

In January, single-detached homes spent an average of 54 days on the market, while townhouses averaged 37 days, and condominiums averaged 42 days.

The composite residential benchmark price in Greater Vancouver is now at $1,161,300, which represents a 4.2% increase over January 2023 and a 0.6% decrease compared to December 2023.

By property type, the benchmark price is now $1,942,400 for single-detached homes, $1,066,700 for townhouses, and $751,900 for condominiums. Those represent a 1.1% decrease, 0.6% decrease, and a 0.1% increase, respectively, when compared to December 2023. Compared to January 2023, however, they represent increases of 7.3%, 4.3%, and 4.4%.

"Our 2024 forecast is calling for a 2% to 3% increase in prices by the end of the year, which is largely the result of demand, once again, butting up against too little inventory," said Lis. "If the January figures are indicative of what the spring market has in store, our forecast may already be off to an overly conservative start. Markets can shift quickly, however, and we'll watch the February numbers to see if these early signs of strength continue, or whether they're a blip in the data."

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