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2020 real-estate sales on-track to blow past 2019; townhome purchases headed for record territory

The Capital Region's home sales are on-track to surpass 2019's total despite a turbulent spring that saw market activity plummet. And the townhome segment of the market, often referred to as the 'missing middle,' is poised for a record-breaking year as transactions rise amid COVID-spurred changes to buyer preferences. Pictured is Mike Geric Construction's The Reeve, a 36-home townhouse project now underway in Saanich's Royal Oak neighbourhood.  Mike Geric Construction

2020 real-estate sales on-track to blow past 2019; townhome purchases headed for record territory
MIKE KOZAKOWSKI, CITIFIED.CA
Real-estate sales on southern Vancouver Island are on-track to surpass 2019’s totals as the fourth quarter of 2020 shows signs of sustained purchasing pressure.
 
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The first nine months of the year have already delivered 6,081 sales from Sooke to Sidney, trailing a mere 1,174 transactions from last year’s 7,255, according to data from the Victoria Real-Estate Board (VREB).
 
And that’s despite a turbulent spring that saw buyer activity plummet in April and May as COVID-19 brought on social distancing requirements, closures of businesses and a literal near shutdown of the broader economy.
 
Single-family-home sales, the driver of local real-estate, are sitting 244 transactions shy of matching 2019’s annual total of 3,312, the VREB reports, while a full quarter of activity remains that will pad 2020’s already tabulated 3,068 closings by at least another 1,000.
 
Condominium sales, which saw suppressed demand this year due to new buying trends that emerged from lifestyle changes like working from home, a desire for private green space and larger accommodations, are trailing 2019 by 556 sales. This gives the segment a running chance of meeting, if not surpassing, last year’s buying activity of 2,198-units.
 
Townhomes – also known as the missing middle for their in-between role as part condominium and part detached home – are headed for record-breaking sales territory as purchasers targeting condominium pre-COVID set their sights at opportunities to step up to the more spacious environments of townhomes.
 
In a recent interview with Citified on the rising demand for townhomes in Victoria, developer Edward Geric of Mike Geric Construction (currently building 36 townhomes known as The Reeve in Saanich’s Royal Oak neighbourhood) raised several points that have fuelled demand for this housing segment in 2020.
 
“When you consider the cost of a larger two-bedroom condominium and that of a new-build townhome, the price disparity between them is no longer as large as it once was,” Geric said. “Many people are also working from home more often, so having multi-level spaciousness makes it easier to do that. You also have the benefit of a private garage, parking for more than one vehicle, an outdoor private green space and multiple decks. And that’s before you take into consideration the established neighbourhoods in which townhomes are often built, like at The Reeve where trails, parkland and shopping are nearby.”
 
Sales of townhomes through September shot up to 770 transactions (just 54 below last year’s 824) to settle well within striking distance of the all-time high of 1,017 set in 2016. And with January through September seeing an average of 86 sales per month, a decent fourth quarter could propel the townhome industry to a celebratory year.
 
In terms of valuations, September saw single-family homes break through records set earlier this year to land at an average price of $1,076,026, bringing 2020’s average through September to the highest ever of $977,002.
 
Condominium prices also pushed to record heights, settling for the first time above the $500,000 mark with an average of $502,169.
 
Townhomes, meanwhile, held steady with a $601,116 average which shows the segment as stable following two years of annual averages right on the $600,000 mark. C
 
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