Strong home sales in British Columbia in December ahead of the new B-20 mortgage rules left January sales with little option other than a decline.

January sales dropped 10% to 5,306 in December but were 18.3% higher than a year earlier. On a seasonally-adjusted annual basis there were 101,800 sales, the British Columbia Real Estate Association reported.

"New mortgage rules requiring conventional borrowers to qualify at a higher interest rate likely contributed to the decline in home sales last month,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “The impact was magnified by a strong December as many households advanced their purchase decisions ahead of the policy's implementation."

The average MLS price in BC was $721,477, up 16.2% year-over-year while total sales dollar volume was $3.83 billion, up 37.4%.

Compared to January 2017, market conditions tightened in all BC board areas except Victoria where the sales-to-active listings ratio declined from 46.3% to 40.5%.

Total active listings in the province were down 8.6% to 20,901 units, compared to January 2017.

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