Luxury home sales drive already hot Vancouver housing market

Thu Jan 7, 2016 12:15am EST
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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - In Vancouver, Canada's most expensive real estate market, sales of homes over C$4 million ($2.84 million) jumped 66.8 percent last year and are set to stay strong in early 2016, buoyed by international demand and limited inventory, according to a study released on Thursday.

The Sotheby's International Realty report comes just days after British Columbia released its 2016 assessment figures, which showed the value of all properties in Vancouver soared more than 16 percent to a record C$636 billion.

"There's very little inventory right now, particularly in prime neighborhoods," said Elaine Hung, spokeswoman for Sotheby's Canada, noting that the sagging Canadian dollar is helping drive interest from offshore and newcomer buyers.

Sales volumes on houses, condos and townhomes in the C$1 million to C$2 million range jumped 43.3 percent in 2015, while those in the C$2 million to C$4 million range climbed 46.2 percent, Sotheby's found.

Vancouver's red-hot housing market has been on a tear for the last decade, driven in part by buoyant foreign interest, leading to backlash from locals who say they are priced out and worry that offshore buyers are not paying their fair share of taxes.

On the assessment side, Vancouver and its suburbs led the double-digit gains, with the total value of homes in exclusive Lions Bay posting the largest year-over-year jump, at 17.96 percent, while Vancouver soared 16.84 percent.

    "It does add more fuel to the fire about wanting to deal with foreign investment and whether or not current residents are bearing the brunt of cost for our future residents," said Jordan Bateman, British Columbia director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson again called for a speculation tax to slow flipping activity and a luxury tax on wealthy buyers.

Province-wide, assessed values climbed 11.1 percent, or by C$130 billion, the largest year-over-year gain since the 2008 financial crisis, according to provincial data.   Continued...

A caretaker does yard work outside a English-style mansion listed for C$17.9 million ($16.3 million) in Vancouver's historic First Shaughnessy neighbourhood July 16, 2014.   REUTERS/Julie Gordon