The pandemic is hitting Vancouver Island’s real estate market hard.

Sales of single-family homes island-wide cratered in April, dropping 54 per cent year over year. 

Last month, 189 single-family homes sold on the Multiple Listing Service System, compared to 333 in March and 412 in April 2019. 

Apartment and townhouse sales decreased by 82 and 69 per cent, respectively. 

Meanwhile, prices managed to hold fairly steady and in some regions even inched higher, despite the pandemic.

The benchmark price of a single-family home board-wide was $523,700 in April, a drop of three per cent and marginally higher than in March (benchmark pricing tracks the value of a typical home in the reported area) 

In the apartment category, the year-over-year benchmark price rose by five per cent, hitting $313,300, which is slightly lower than the previous month. 

The benchmark price of a townhouse in April rose by two per cent year over year and was somewhat higher than in March, climbing to $421,400. 

Regionally, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area last month was $438,500, an increase of four per cent over last year. 

In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price reached $521,300, up by two per cent from one year ago. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $482,800, slightly higher than in April 2019. 

In its most recent Market Intelligence Report, the British Columbia Real Estate Association predicts that the 2020 coronavirus-driven recession will be profound, although the duration may be shorter than past downturns. 

Home sales throughout B.C. are posting sharp declines as households and the real-estate sector adhere to social distancing. 

As measures implemented to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 are gradually lifted, the BCREA expects that low interest rates and pent-up demand will translate to a “significant recovery in home sales and prices.” 

While the provincial government has designated real estate as an essential service, it is not business as usual. 

The VIREB says it’s embracing technology solutions, such as virtual open houses, to continue assisting their clients. 

“Being declared an essential service recognizes that many British Columbians are currently involved in real estate transactions that began before the pandemic was declared, or may need to be involved in one in the coming weeks and months,” board president Kevin Reid said. 

Reid said that realtors’ first priority is public health adding that sales “can continue as long as everyone involved is protected.”