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July’s increase ends housing-sales slump

By Bryan Yu for Business in Vancouver

B.C. ended a six-month slide in Multiple Listing Service (MLS) home sales in July but activity remained low as mortgage stress tests, higher interest rates and provincial policy continued to weigh.

Total sales reached a seasonally adjusted 6,212 units, a 0.9% increase from June. Among real estate board areas, steady July sales were led by gains in the Fraser Valley, Kootenays and the northeast. The South Okanagan board area and Kamloops posted declines.

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While B.C. was one of a handful of provinces posting a July gain, the province has experienced the sharpest sales declines since introduction of mortgage stress tests in January, reflecting the region’s higher-priced urban areas. Monthly sales in B.C. are down more than 30% from 2017 year-end compared with a 15% national decline. B.C. sales were down 27% on a year-over-year basis, and 21% through seven months.

For some buyers, recent policies have put their desired property types out of reach or priced them out of the market altogether. Other buyers may be staying on the sidelines to gauge market direction. A subdued sales trend in B.C. is anticipated to persist through the second half of 2018. Raging wildfires in the B.C. Interior will also dampen future sales.

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