Vancouver home sales drop in July, prices continue to rise

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Vancouver home sales fell in July from a year ago, while the limited amount of properties being put on the market pushed prices higher nearly a year after the provincial government implemented a foreign buyers tax to rein in the once-hot market.

Sales fell 8.2 percent last month from July 2016, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said in a report on Wednesday. Compared with the month before, sales were down 24 percent. Sales were slightly higher than the July average over the past 10 years.

Vancouver, the country’s most expensive real estate market, has seen sales slow since the tax was put in place last August amid concern that speculation from overseas buyers was leading to a housing bubble.

The new provincial government is reviewing whether the tax will remain in place, according to a report by the Canadian Press this week.

Prices in Vancouver have begun to climb again in recent months, and were up 8.7 percent in July, putting the benchmark price at C$1.02 million ($812,490).

The demand for housing in the city now varies by property type and location, with some parts of the market still seeing bidding wars, said the real estate board’s president, Jill Oudil.

The number of properties newly listed for sale increased by just 0.3 percent from last year, while the sales-to-active listings ratio is 32.2 percent.

Home prices often see upward pressure when the ratio is above 20 percent for several months, the report said.

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Jonathan Oatis