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Home sales in B.C. edged down one per cent to 7,857 units in May compared to the same month last year, according to a B.C. Real Estate Association survey released Wednesday.

 

The report also said that the average price of a home climbed 20 per cent to $596,872 last month compared to May 2010.

 

However, BCREA's chief economist said the soaring price shouldn't be taken too seriously, because the provincial numbers were skewed by sales of expensive homes in Metro Vancouver's priciest neighbourhoods.

 

"With the average price, you need to take it with a grain of salt," Cameron Muir said. "The reality is that the average price does not indicate where the market is going. It [Vancouver housing] is skewing the average price higher than market conditions suggest."

 

Muir said that a more precise indication of the overall market is the benchmark price - only tallied in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley - which measures the price of a typical home in the area.

 

"The average price is up 26 per cent in [Metro] Vancouver [to $832,000], but the benchmark price has only gone up about six per cent year-over-year."

 

Muir said that in Metro Vancouver, there has been a higher proportion of pricier single detached home sales this year than a year ago, especially in the priciest markets - Vancouver's west side, Richmond and West Vancouver.

 

Of B.C.'s overall drop in sales, Muir said that tighter mortgage rules, tepid employment growth and advance buying during the first quarter kept B.C. home sales on a lower note in May. "However, recent downward pressure on mortgage interest rates is expected to provide some incentive to consumers over the summer months."

Source: Brian Morton, Vancouver Sun

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