The average price of a detached house in Langley has now risen above $1 million, according to the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.
The steep price increases are changing the behaviour of home buyers, and leaving even veteran realtors surprised.
“No matter how long you’ve been in the business, the last few years have been surprising,” said Joel Schacter, a local real estate agent for 35 years.
He said the current boom period started in the early spring of 2015, and had a brief blip caused by the introduction of the foreign buyers tax.
Previous booms he’s seen have typically only lasted at this level of intensity for six or seven months.
Sales statistics released for May showed that the average sale price for a detached home was $1,018,052, the first time the price has passed seven figures. The average is a 12.2 per cent increase from $907,662 in May of 2016.
The “benchmark price,” the price for a typical home, was not far behind, at $922,000. That price is up from $820,900 in the same month last year, a 12.3 per cent increase.
Townhouses and condos have increased in price even more rapidly.
A benchmark townhouse was selling for $464,300 in May this year, up 20.1 per cent from $386,500 last year. A benchmark condo now sells for $311,100, up 35.6 per cent ffrom $229,400 a year ago.
The number of sales of detached homes is slumping in Langley compared to multi-family dwellings.
In May, 183 detached single-family houses changed hands in the Langleys, according to the FVREB statistics. That’s down from 222 in the same month last year.
Meanwhile, 148 townhouses were sold, up 27.6 per cent year over year, and 116 condos, up 6.4 per cent year over year.
The change is part of a long-term trend that has seen Langley transform from a community dominated by single-family housing sales.
In the slow winter months of 2015 – in February, November, and December – sales of townhouses and condos slightly outpaced sales of single-family homes. In Febrary that year, for example, 106 houses sold, compared to 71 townhouses and 51 condos.
But in the busy spring and summer months, house sales jumped again.
From January to April of 2016, single family houses outsold multi-family. That flipped in May of last year.
Since then, sales of single family homes have dropped compared to previous years, while multi-family sales continued to climb. Single family home sales have not surpassed multi-family sales since then.
“People have had to adjust their housing dream,” said Schacter. People looking for a first home are well aware that, for the most part, they can’t afford a detached house, he said.
He put part of the blame on the length of time it takes to get a home building project from first permits and rezonings to completion. It’s one reason why there is so little housing for sale, which helps drive up prices.
But Schachter acknowledged that another reason is that some people are reluctant to sell, when they aren’t sure they can easily buy something locally again.
The trend means a big change for Langley Township. Langley City has long had apartments, but the Township had scarcely any condominiums or townhouses just 15 years ago.
“In our planning, we want to do a mix,” said Township Mayor Jack Froese. There is still a demand for single family, he said.
As far as increasing housing supply, the Township is already meeting its annual growth targets of three per cent per year, Froese said.
“We process them as quickly as we can,” he said of development requests.
Langley’s numbers are helping to drive the regional trends towards multi-family housing. Across the region, from North Delta to Mission and Abbotsford, there were 1,188 single family homes sold. There were 1,229 townhouses and condos sold.