Home buyers in the Fraser Valley are giving up on expensive homes, as sales continued to slump through the fall, say local realtors.
The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) said sales overall dropped by 19.2 per cent in November 2012 compared to the same month last year.
Sales conducted through the Multiple Listing Service have been dropping for several months.
"Buyers can't borrow as much as what they could prior to the mortgage rule changes, so we're seeing our pool of prospective buyers shrink and we're seeing a change in the price range they're looking for," Scott Olson, president of the FVREB, said in a statement.
The new mortgage rules made it much more difficult to qualify for a government-insured loan for anything other than a 25-year term.
Shorter mortgage terms have meant a drop in what many first time home buyers can afford.
Olson said that is cutting into the sales of homes in the above average range.
"For three months in a row, we've seen a decrease in sales of detached homes $700,000 and up and greater demand for those $400,000 to half a million," Olson said.
The total number of home sales in the region from Delta to Abbotsford-Mission was 905 last month, down from 1,120 in the same month last year.
The number of new listings posted to the MLS dropped 11 per cent compared to last year, and was down 32 per cent compared to October. Olson said it means this was the slowest month for new listings since November 2003.
The number of active listings in November was 9,478.
According to the FVREB, the price of "benchmark" houses, townhouses and condos is staying relatively stable. A benchmark home is considered an average example of its type.
However, average and median prices have been dropping, in some cases sharply.
The price of a benchmark detached home in Langley dropped 0.2 per cent month-to-month in November, and the average and median prices both went up slightly.
However, while benchmark prices for townhouses and condos dropped slightly, at two per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively, average prices dropped 12.5 and 11 per cent.
Median and average prices also dropped more year-over-year than did benchmark prices.
The benchmark price for a townhouse is down just 0.1 per cent from a year ago; the average price has dropped 3.8 per cent and the median price is down 10.4 per cent.
For condos, the benchmark price is down 2.3 per cent from a year ago, while average price is down 6.8 per cent and median price is down 8.5 per cent.
Median and average prices can fluctuate more than the "benchmark" rate because they can be swayed by very expensive or very inexpensive homes changing hands. The sale of a few multi-million dollar homes can drive up the average sharply, for example.
Sellers are either keeping their homes on the market longer, or if they do not have to sell, taking them out of the game entirely, Olson said.
The number of days to sell a home is up to 59 in November, five days up from the same month last year. Townhouses take 70 days to sell, from 52 days, and for condos it was 74 compared to 72.
Similar sales patterns are being seen in the area north of the Fraser, where sales are down even more than in the FVREB's territory.
Both the Greater Vancouver area and Toronto, which saw some of the hottest real estate markets in Canada, are now cooling off in response to the new mortgage rules.