The rise in the typical selling price for a single family home was more than offset by a decline in the number of sales, year-end figures from the B.C. Northern Real Estate Board are showing.
In all, 905 homes sold for $297,185 on average last year, working out to $269 million worth of activity. Over 2015, the count was 976 sales for $284,611 each, adding up to $278 million, a difference to the downside of $8.8 million or 3.2 per cent.
BCNREB past president David Black pointed to the toughened stress test to qualify for an insured mortgage, introduced by the federal government in October, for the difference.
"It slowed things down for a little bit but then it picked up again in November and closed the year out fairly well," Black said.
With the change, all purchasers who want to make a down payment of less than 20 per cent must be able to qualify for the big banks' posted five-year rate even if the actual interest rate they will be paying is significantly less.
Previously, the test had only applied to borrowers seeking variable rate mortgages or fixed rate mortgages with terms less than five years.
Prince George remained by far the biggest market in northern B.C.
Next largest was Fort St. John, which saw a dramatic drop in both average price and sales, to $405,203 and 180 sales for $73 million, from $425,083 and 266 sales for $113 million in 2015.
100 Mile House saw the most growth, as the average price stood at $250,312 on 178 sales for $45 million, up from $226,984 on 114 sales for $26 million the year before.
"When you look south of Prince George, everybody did well. North of Prince George, not so much and on the Coast it was pretty much the same," Black said. "And Prince George, it was a good steady market all year."
Looking ahead, Black predicted a holding pattern.
"Unless something changes the economy, I think that we're going to be pretty much where we are this year," he said. "If somebody says we're going to put a pipeline in and an LNG terminal, we could be not shooting the lights out but a lot stronger than what we look like right now.
"I mean, right now, it looks like it's going to be another solid year."
Looking at properties of all types, 1,424 were sold for a total $400.6 million, compared to 1,442 properties worth $377 million in 2015.
At year end, there were 487 properties of all types available through the Multiple Listing Service, compared to 481 properties at the end of 2015.
Here's an area-by-area breakdown for the city:
- West of Central Street, half of the 270 single family homes sold in 201 went for less than $270,000. As well, 20 apartment units and 52 townhomes changed hands in 2016.
As of Dec. 31, there were 36 single family homes available through MLS in this area of the city, compared to 30 at the same time last year.
- East of Central, 12 apartment units, 40 half duplexes, and 27 townhomes sold in 2016.
The 182 single family homes sold had a median value of $215,000.
At the end of December there were 22 single family homes available for sale through MLS in that area compared with 27 at the end of 2015.
- North of the Nechako, 29 homes on acreage, 22 manufactured homes in parks and a further 49 manufactured homes on land sold in 2016.
Of the 187 single family homes sold, half sold for less than $294,000.
As of Dec. 31, there were 43 single family homes available through MLS in that area, compared with 31 at the end of 2015.
- In the southwest, 13 half duplexes, 29 townhomes, 16 homes on acreage, 14 manufactured homes in parks and a further four manufactured homes on land sold in 2016.
Half of the 251 single family homes sold in 2016 sold for less than $352,000.
At year end, there were 57 single family homes available for sale through MLS in that area, no change from the 57 at the end of 2015.