Report – Housing Sales Surge in Eastern Fraser Valley, in Focus – Mission

Fraser Valley (Frank O’Brien, Western Investor) B.C.’s  Fraser Valley set a record-setting residential sales volume in December but it was the eastern Fraser Valley that is seeing the most explosive increases in detached house sales and residential land demand, agents say.

In December, total home sales through the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board(FVREB) were up 67.3 per cent from the same month a year earlier, with sales of detached houses – which dominate Valley sales – up 90.3 per cent, year-over-year.

In Mission, however, sales of detached houses rocketed up by 166.7 per cent, the highest increase in the Lower Mainland. A key reason is the average house price: in December it was $801,000 in Mission, compared to $1.2 million in the rest of the Fraser Valley and north of $1.5 million in Greater Vancouver, according to data from the FVREB and the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

The higher sales of Mission houses is seen, at least partially, as a reaction to the pandemic, which has persuaded many people to work from home. This translates into less concern about commuting and more demand for detached houses with outdoor space, agents say.

“The Mission market is insane,” said Jag Cheema, a veteran Royal LePage agent who specializes in land sales in the eastern Fraser Valley community. Cheema said that a year ago he might get four calls a week from developers looking to buy residential sites in Mission.

“Now I am getting three calls a day,” he said. “It’s overwhelming.”

A shortage of detached-house inventory is keeping Mission prices high. In December, listings for houses were down 60 per cent from a year earlier and 37 per cent lower than in November.

Some existing houses as being bundled into land assemblies and sold for development at prices that rival Metro Vancouver. In December, for example, a two-lot assembly of just over half an acre on Mission’s First Avenue sold for $1.4 million.

“For every residential land listing we can get up to 40 buyers,” Cheema said. He said most developers are looking for land suitable for strata or rental apartment construction and noted that land prices are up 10 per cent to 15 per cent from last year.

There is some relief coming, with Polygon Homes starting the 3,240-acre Silverdale development that will eventually have homes for about 40,000 people; and the development of a 296-acre waterfront site that the District of Mission said will include some multi-family residential when it starts construction in about two years.

In the eastern valley community of Abbotsford, where the average house sells for $969,000, sales of detached houses were up 77.3 per cent in December compared to December 2019.

The entire Fraser Valley is seeing higher sales increases than in Greater Vancouver, where December sales were 53.4 per cent higher when compared to the same month a year earlier.

“The pandemic upended everything in 2020,” said Chris Shields, president of the FVREB.” No one could have anticipated a six‐month stretch like we’ve just experienced. Typical seasonal cycles did not apply, and most unexpected has been the unwavering demand for family‐sized houses in our region and so far, there is no sign of it slowing down.”

For all of 2020, Fraser Valley sales of the three main residential property types were as follows: 8,176 single‐family detached; 5,102 townhouses; and 4,357 apartments. Year‐over‐year, sales of detached houses soared by 41.7 per cent compared to 2019; townhome sales increased by 31.2 per cent and sales of apartments increased by 5.9 per cent.

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