Vancouver home prices rise in May as market recovers from buyers tax

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

(Reuters) - Home sales in the Vancouver region’s once-hot housing market fell in May compared with a year ago, but prices climbed from earlier in the year as the market continued to rebound from a foreign buyers tax implemented in 2016, data showed on Friday.

The benchmark price for all types of residential properties in Metro Vancouver, Canada’s most expensive real estate market, was C$967,500 in May, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said. That was up 2.8 percent from April and 8.8 percent higher than a year earlier.

Sales fell 8.5 percent from a record peak a year earlier, but surged 22.8 percent from April and were 23.7 percent above the 10-year sales average for May, the industry group said.

“While sales are inching closer to the record-breaking pace of 2016, the market itself looks different. Sales last year were driven by demand for single-family homes. This year, it’s clear that townhomes and condominiums are leading the way,” the board’s president, Jill Oudil, said in a statement.

“First-time buyers and people looking to downsize from their single-family homes are both competing for these two types of housing,” she added.

Sales in Vancouver’s housing market have 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 China, was fuelling a bubble.

New listings for all types of properties were down 3.9 percent from a year ago but up 23.2 percent from April.

Detached homes led the month-over-month increase in new listings with a jump of 27.1 percent, while apartment new listings rose 22.7 percent and townhomes were up 14.1 percent in the month.

Reporting by Andrea Hopkins