VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C. – The real estate market has gone from cool to downright frosty across B.C., and the North Island is no exception.

Sales of single-family homes in Vancouver Island in August were seven percent higher than in July, but dipped by 14 percent from August 2017.

The weaker sales seen so far in 2018 were expected because 2016 and 2017 were exceptionally healthy years for real estate, setting record levels that could not be maintained indefinitely.

However, the  Vancouver Island Real Estate Board’s (VIREB’s) housing market is still strong compared to where it sat four years ago, according to the Board.

Local realtor Kevin Reid, Comox Valley’s director with the VIREB, said the market is simply becoming more balanced.

“It’s the good deals that sell first,” Reid said. “We’re seeing a balance in the market. We’ve had a 20 percent increase in property prices for each of the last two years. So that’s a 40 percent increase in a very short period of time.”

But recently, there are fewer buyers with more properties coming onto the market. So in other words, Reid said, now is a good time to go house hunting.

“It’s still slightly in favour of the sellers but very even,” he said. “Buyers now have more choices for location, they have more choices to offer some negotiations, things like that. But still, in the market that I am seeing today, if you are priced realistically and you’ve got something to offer, you’re going to sell your house.”

Inventory of single-family homes in August was down slightly from one year ago (1,342 compared to 1,352), dropping five percent from July but still significantly higher than the 749 properties available in January.

The number of apartments and townhouses dipped 14 percent and 10 percent from one year ago, respectively.

House prices inched up in the valley but actually fell in Campbell River from July to August.

The benchmark (typical) price of single family homes in Comox Valley last month was $509,200, up $4,900 from July and $60,400 pricier than August 2017.

Meanwhile, houses in Campbell River were priced at $404,300 in August, a $3,700 reduction from what they were going for in the previous month.

In August 2017, the benchmark price for a single family home in Campbell River was $359,400.

The average price for a single family home in all of Vancouver Island combined is $504,800.

Home sales inched up in the Comox Valley in August compared to July, from 64 sales to 74.

In Campbell River, house sales dipped as the summer wore on. A total of 48 homes changed hands last month compared to 52 in July.

In July 2017, a total of 69 houses were sold in Campbell River.

“The broad demographic trend for the VIREB area continues to include baby boomers and retirees, who are less affected by stricter mortgage qualification rules because they don’t typically need mortgages,” says Cameron Muir, chief economist for the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA). “As a result, even when sales bottom out, they’re doing so at lower levels on Vancouver Island.”

In its 2018 Q2 Housing Forecast, BCREA anticipates that sales in the province will decline by nine per cent to 94,200 units this year from 103,700 by the end of the year.

“B.C. housing markets have benefited from the provincial economy expanding well above trend growth over the past four years,” Muir said. “However, economic growth is expected to slow and reflect the long-term average this year.”