06/02/2017 01:15 EDT | Updated 06/02/2017 01:24 EDT

Vancouver Home Sales Heat Up Again, But This Time It's Different

Sales rebound to near-record levels, but singe-family home sales are soft.

VANCOUVER — Home sales across Metro Vancouver rebounded to near record levels in May but demand is now being driven by condominiums and townhomes, a real estate expert says.

That's a shift from booming single-family home sales last year, said Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver president Jill Oudil.

"First-time buyers and people looking to downsize from their single-family homes are both competing for these two types of housing,'' she said in a news release.

Residential property sales totalled 4,364 in May, a leap of 22.8 per cent over the homes sold one month earlier, the real estate board said.

The numbers are 23.7 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month and mark the third-highest selling May on record.

New listings for all property types also increased 23.2 per cent across the region compared with April, but available townhomes for sale climbed at the slowest pace, followed by apartments and detached homes, Oudil said.

"Homebuyers are beginning to have more selection to choose from in the detached market, but the number of condominiums for sale continues to decline,'' she said.

Numbers from the board show sales-to-active listings are 94.6 per cent for condominiums, 76.1 per cent for townhomes and 31 per cent for detached homes.

Generally, analysts say home prices often climb when sales-to-active listings are above 20 per cent over several months.

Houses in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, B.C.

The composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $967,500, an 8.8 per cent increase over May 2016 and a 2.8 per cent increase compared with April 2017.

By property type, the benchmark price for a condo is currently $571,300, a 17.8 per cent increase over May 2016 and a 3.1 per cent jump since April.

The benchmark for a townhome is $715,400, up 13.1 per cent since last May and 1.9 per cent compared with April, while the benchmark for a detached property is $1,561,000, a 3.1 per cent increase in one year.

The real estate board says May's sales numbers, while strong, remain 8.5 per cent below the all-time sales record of 4,769, recorded in the same month last year.

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At the time, Vancouver's real estate market was the most expensive in Canada, with prices rising at rates that alarmed governments at various levels.

The B.C. government implemented a 15 per cent tax last August on foreigners buying properties in Metro Vancouver in a bid to cool down the city's housing market.

Sales dipped, but so did supply, keeping prices steady or climbing and prompting Oudil to warn in April that home prices are likely to continue to increase until we see more housing supply coming on the market.

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