April 4, 2017 / 8:39 PM / 2 years ago

Vancouver home sales soar in March, but down from year-ago

A real estate for sale sign is pictured in front of a home in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Ben Nelms/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Home sales in the Vancouver region’s once-boiling housing market soared in March from February and prices edged higher, but activity was sharply lower than a year ago, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said on Tuesday.

March sales rose 47.6 percent from a month earlier but were down 30.8 percent from the record-setting pace a year ago and 7.9 percent above the 10-year average for the month, the real estate group said.

Vancouver’s housing market, the most expensive in Canada, has slowed since the provincial government of British Columbia imposed a 15 percent foreign buyers tax in August 2016 amid concern that speculation by global investors, mostly from mainland China, was fueling a bubble.

“Sellers still seem reluctant to put their homes on the market, making for stiff competition among home buyers,” Jill Oudil, the group’s president, said in a statement.

“Home prices will likely continue to increase until we see more housing supply coming on to the market,” she added.

The federal government has repeatedly tightened mortgage lending rules to cool the nation’s housing markets, but Toronto remains red hot and even mainstream Canadian economists have said a bubble is developing in that city.

The benchmark price for homes in Vancouver rose 1.4 percent from February to C$919,300, down 0.8 percent over the past six months, the report showed.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Vancouver rose 29.9 percent from February but were down 24.1 percent from a year earlier, the group said.

Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; editing by Diane Craft

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