07/09/2015 09:39 EDT | Updated 07/09/2016 05:59 EDT

Vancouver luxury home demand soaring: report

The demand for luxury homes in Vancouver soared in the first half of the year as the number of residences with million-dollar price tags rose by nearly 50 per cent from the same time last year, according to a new study by Sotheby's International Realty. 

The biannual report released on Thursday shows that luxury real estate is selling briskly in Toronto and Vancouver, while million-dollar home sales in Calgary have slid due to dropping oil prices.

In Vancouver, 2,465 homes sold for more than $1 million or higher in the first half of 2015, which is a 48 per cent increase from the previous year.

Vancouver Sotheby broker Polly Cordwell says a million-dollar price tag on a Vancouver home is no longer considered luxury digs. 

The starting point for a Vancouver luxury home is $3.5 million — the highest in Canada — and demand for these homes is high. So far this year, 219 of these properties have sold, up 71 per cent from last year, the Sotheby's report said.

"If you look online, $2 million is getting you a teardown in most places in Vancouver," Cordwell said. "It's not considered luxury here."

Flipping properties becoming more popular

Cordwell says more buyers are asking about flipping properties on deals that haven't yet closed. She didn't have exact figures but she said anecdotally more buyers have inquired about the practice in the past year.

The high demand for properties has also fuelled a rise in so-called contract assignments where a buyer who has made an offer on a home but has not yet closed on the deal hands over the contract rights to another buyer for a profit.

"The market really had an uptick this year," Cordwell said. "People who bought maybe in November or December of last year and then didn't have a closing for a few months suddenly saw this spring ... the market is really going crazy. 'Maybe I could re-sell this and make some money.'"

"We've just had a lot more people asking about it. It's definitely gained a lot more popularity."

'There is no bubble here'

The report cited low interest rates, rising foreign demand and high consumer confidence for the increase in high-end home sales.

"I think that people are starting to realize that there is no bubble here," Cordwell said. "Plus there are just so many people buying and I think that the more people see that, the more confidence there is in the market.

"I mean the sales are going crazy. When other people see that  they get caught up in it too."