There are signs that B.C.'s once-hot real estate market is beginning to recover from a slump in sales and prices, with experts hopeful for improved numbers in the spring.
According to the B.C. Real Estate Association (BCREA), more than 4,700 residential unit sales were recorded in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) last month, down 46.5 per cent compared to February last year.
During the real estate market's peak, in February 2022, the average MLS listing price was $1.1 million, the association says. In February 2023 that number had dropped by 14.7 per cent to $941,575.
However, the average price this February was up 8.5 per cent over January, reaching its highest level since July 2022, the BCREA said in a media release. It said this is in part due to a more stable market, but also because more single detached homes were on the market in the Lower Mainland in January.
BCREA chief economist Brendon Ogmundson says the market is showing early signs that home sales and prices have bottomed out, and expects to see more stability soon.
"It seems like at least the beginning of maybe a shift in the housing market," Ogmundson said, adding there is typically more real estate activity during the spring months.
"The next two months, especially, will be a real test; if the spring turns out to be a little stronger than expected, it would be a really encouraging sign."
Tom Davidoff, an associate professor in the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business, said sales volumes have been "very, very low." But at the same time, as interest rates continue to climb, Davidoff said it's been "quite surprising" that housing prices haven't plummeted.
"Interest rates have been an important force in elevating housing prices over the last 10 or 20 years," he explained.
He says market conditions are attributable to homeowners' reluctance to sell — he said it's unlikely owners would sell in the current market when they could have got 15 per cent more a year ago.