There’s little relief in sight for potential Vancouver Island homebuyers.

While the number of single-family homes and condos on the market rose by eight percent and 16 percent, respectively, in April, active listings of townhouses dropped by eight percent.

There was also a slight uptick in sales, with 590 houses sold compared to 567 in March. 

In the condo apartment category, 133 units sold last month versus 136 in March 2021. 

As for townhouses, 106 units changed hands in April compared to 124 the previous month. 

The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board is not doing year-by-year comparisons, because of the impact the pandemic had on the market last spring.

“Since the pandemic began at this time last year, and the economic lockdown significantly slowed down the housing market – at least initially – year-over-year sales comparisons are not particularly helpful right now,” the board said in a release.

Meanwhile, the ever-present lack of inventory has created a strong sellers’ market, and buyers face fierce competition in their home search. 

Supplied by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board

Multiple offers are the norm rather than the exception, and many homes are selling over the asking price.

“Buyers are understandably frustrated, and it’s also disheartening for realtors,” says 2021 VIREB president Ian Mackay. 

“Whether they’re buyers or sellers, we want to make our clients happy.”

Mackay echoes the sentiments voiced by the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA), which does not see the inventory situation improving until more supply comes online. 

BCREA and local real estate boards are advocating with policymakers at the provincial and regional levels to speed up the development process so that municipalities can expand supply more quickly to meet demand.

“We have seen that demand-side policies like taxes and higher mortgage rates are just not working,” notes Mackay. 

“The best route to making housing more affordable, particularly for first-time buyers, is to increase supply. It’s not a quick solution, but it’s the only one that makes sense long-term.”

It is no surprise that the heated housing market is impacting prices, which are rising throughout the board area. 

The benchmark (or typical) price of a single-family home hit $659,300 last month, up by four percent from March and 22 percent higher than in April 2020. 

The benchmark price of an apartment reached $345,200, a year-over-year increase of 14 percent and four percent higher than in March. 

The benchmark price of a townhouse rose by 21 percent year over year, climbing to $499,200, which was three percent higher than in March.

In Campbell River, the benchmark price of a single-family home hit $588,800 in April, an increase of 25 percent over last year. 

In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price was $692,300, up by 24 percent from one year ago. 

Duncan reported a benchmark price of $596,300, an increase of 19 percent from April 2020. 

Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose by 23 percent, hitting $683,000, while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price increase by 16 percent to $743,400.

 The cost of a benchmark single-family home in Port Alberni reached $417,700, a 26 percent year-over-year increase. 

For the North Island, the benchmark price rose to $305,000, a 19 percent increase over last year.