01/30/2014 06:03 EST | Updated 01/30/2014 06:59 EST

B.C. Real Estate Sales To Jump 4.8 Per Cent This Year

Yaletown's newest and tallest residential towerVancouver, Canada

B.C.'s real estate market is set to see slower sales growth this year compared to 2013.

So says the first quarter housing forecast update from the B.C. Real Estate Association (BCREA), which predicts that the province will see sales grow by 4.8 per cent in 2014, compared to 7.8 per cent last year.

The market may be seeing slower growth because last year represented a rebound year. The housing market is just now recovering from that downturn, the update said.

A sluggish economy and weak employment growth are likely to stifle housing activity through the next few quarters of 2014, but the BCREA foresees an "upward trajectory" taking hold in the second half of the year.

The average price of a home in B.C. is set to level off somewhat with a 1.8 per cent increase to $547,300. That's less than the increase seen in 2013, when prices jumped 4.4 per cent to $537,414.

Vancouver's average home price is also expected to grow more slowly. It jumped 5.2 per cent to $767,765 last year and will grow only 1.3 per cent to $778,000 in 2014, the report said.

The statistics come as realtors see brisk housing activity around the Lunar New Year, with purchases are coming from a mix of overseas and local buyers.

Realtor Tom Grdecak has sold three houses on Vancouver's west side in the past three weeks, all of them for more than the asking price, CBC News reported on Thursday.

He said one of the houses had nine competing offers, while another had five.

Claire Rockel, another Vancouver realtor, is seeing similar activity. She said momentum from buyers during the Chinese New Year usually kickstarts the market and keeps it going for the rest of the year.

UBC real estate expert Tsur Somerville cautioned, however, that a recent spike in sales isn't exactly an indicator of a trend.

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