2021 marked a record-breaking year for Vancouver’s housing market with home sales and home prices at all-time highs. The total number of home sales in Metro Vancouver for 2021 reached 43,999 sales, which is 42% higher than 2020 and 74% higher than 2019. This swift jump in sales also occurred during a year where home prices have risen across the region. The benchmark price of homes in Metro Vancouver was $1,230,200 in December 2021, a 18% increase year-over-year.
Despite Vancouver's housing market seeing higher prices in December 2021, the market also experienced a continued slow-down in listings and housing inventory. Home sales are also down this month compared to last year. Looking specifically at the month of December 2021, there was a slight dip in Vancouver home sales with 2,688 sales. That's a 13% annual decrease compared to December 2020. New listings in Vancouver are also down 19% year-over-year, while active listings are down 39% year-over-year.
Even so, Vancouver’s sales-to-active listings ratio remains elevated at 51.3%, which is up from the 48% ratio seen in November 2021. This shows that sales are making up a larger proportion of active listings, which can signal limited inventory and puts upward pressure on Vancouver home prices. However, townhomes in Vancouver had the highest sales-to-active-listings ratio at 75.6%. Condominiums were slightly lower at 60.8%, while detached homes had a much lower ratio at 35.1%. This indicates that the townhouse and condominium market in Vancouver is much more competitive in December 2021 when compared to detached homes.
All home types continued to see a slight increase in prices compared to last month. Benchmark prices of detached homes have increased 22% over the past year and have inched to $1,910,200 for December 2021. Townhouses have also surged 22% year-over-year to pass the $1 million mark to $1,004,900. Condo apartment benchmark prices lagged behind with a 13% increase year-over-year to $761,800. These price trends, where condo prices are lagging behind detached home prices, are similar to those in Toronto's housing market where condo prices have risen by only 18% over the past year compared to a 30% year-over-year increase in prices for Toronto detached homes.
One tailwind for Vancouver's housing market is the recent update of the CMHC's First-Time Home Buyer Incentive. Home buyers in Vancouver, Victoria, and Toronto can now qualify for a 5% or 10% down payment incentive paid by the Federal government with a household income of up to $150,000 (previously $120,000) and a total borrowed amount of up to 4.5x (previously 4x) their household income. This can potentially create increased direct demand for homes up to $722K in the Vancouver area.
A relaxing of CMHC rules earlier this year has brought about lower credit score requirements and higher GDS and TDS ratio limits for insured mortgages. However, just as it gets easier for Vancouver home buyers to qualify for an insured mortgage, the raising of the benchmark mortgage stress test rate by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) and the Department of Finance Canada will make it harder for both insured and uninsured borrowers to qualify for a mortgage.
As the threat of Bank of Canada rate hikes loom over the horizon, mortgage rates have remained relatively stable. Even so, the possibility of higher rates in 2022 could mean that Vancouver mortgage rates could start to creep up and limit home affordability in Vancouver.
Real estate commissions are the fees that home sellers pay to the seller and buyer real estate agents for their services. In Vancouver, the total commission rate is structured as 7% for the first $100,000 of a home’s sale price and 2.5% on the remaining balance. Seller agents usually get half or 50% of this total commission with buyer agents getting the other half. To calculate your real estate commission for Vancouver, see our calculator below. For other cities in B.C., please visit our BC real estate commission calculator page for more information.
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