New housing inventory — like that being constructed in southwest Campbell River — is the only thing that will bring down real estate prices on Vancouver Island, according to VIREB. Photo by Sean Feagan / Campbell River Mirror.

New housing inventory — like that being constructed in southwest Campbell River — is the only thing that will bring down real estate prices on Vancouver Island, according to VIREB. Photo by Sean Feagan / Campbell River Mirror.

VIREB: low inventory hurting real estate sales, increasing prices

More development is the solution, according to the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board

Prices are up and sales are down of houses on Vancouver Island, a trend driven by historically-low inventory, according to the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB).

Across the Island, active listings of single-family homes and row/townhouses are down 50 per cent from last year, while condo apartment listings dropped by 61 per cent over the same period, according to a release by VIREB.

Sales are also down. There were 891 units sold last month, down 18 per cent from last year. Single-family houses are down 15 per cent, with 560 being sold in August 2021.

Houses in Campbell River are getting more expensive. The benchmark price of a single-family home in the city reached $650,000 in August 2021, an increase of 33 per cent from last year.

But at least prices here are lower than much of the rest of Vancouver Island. Across the VIREB area, the average price of a single-family home rose to $740,900 last month, a year-over-year increase of 33 per cent.

The reason for these trends is low supply, according to VIREB.

“Sales would undoubtedly be higher if there were adequate inventory,” said Ian Mackay, 2021 VIREB President, in the release. “Further, because the real estate sector is driven by supply and demand, we expect that prices will continue to rise unless demand drops or listings increase.”

While VIREB is encouraged by federal parties focusing on housing affordability in the current election campaign, without a plan to build more homes, these promises will fall short, he said.

Developers face ‘levers of delay’ at the local level that impede new construction are significant barriers to increasing housing supply, according to VIREB. As such, real estate boards are advocating with provincial and regional policymakers to expedite the development processes so demand can be met more quickly.

“Building more homes isn’t the easy solution, but it’s the key to making housing more affordable,” said Mackay.

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