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Despite the pandemic, $73.5 billion worth of homes changed hands throughout the province in 2020, a gain of more than 35 percent from the previous year

As if the B.C. residential property market needed any more momentum, it closed out an unexpectedly strong 2020 by setting a new sales record in December. And by the look of things, prospective buyers can expect home prices to keep rising in 2021.

Residential unit sales totalled 93,953 last year, the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports. That’s a surge of 21.5 percent compared to 2019. The average MLS price for 2020 was $782,027, an 11.7-percent increase over the previous year, while total sales dollar volume climbed by 35.6 percent, to $73.5 billion.

“Housing markets across the province staged a remarkable recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic and recession,” BCREA chief economist Brendon Ogmundson said in a statement. “We expect considerable momentum heading into 2021.”

December saw 8,268 MLS sales, a 57.8-percent year-over-year gain and a new high for the month. The average MLS price rose 12.5 percent, to $847,600, while dollar volume jumped 77.5 percent, reaching $7 billion. Total active listings fell 16.1 percent versus December 2019.

“While 2021 is expected to get off to a roaring start, the level of supply in the market is near a record low,” Ogmundson said. “That will likely translate to considerable pressure on prices until listings pick up.”

For average prices in December, the top three by real estate board were Greater Vancouver ($1,079,033, up 7.4 percent year-over-year), Fraser Valley (up 18.4 percent, to $898,028) and Victoria (up 10.9 percent, to $769,941).

Proportionally, the top three gainers by real estate board: Okanagan Mainline (up 37.2 percent on average, to $711,577), South Okanagan (up 28.1 percent, to $546,372) and Kamloops (up 21.9 percent, to $492,106).

By dollar volume, Greater Vancouver took first place with $3,406,508,000, a 65.7-percent gain over the previous December. Fraser Valley (up 104.9 percent, to $1,766,420,000) finished second, followed by Okanagan Mainline (up 118 percent, to $470,352,000).