Langley home sales were steady overall in March, but the numbers conceal rapid growth in early weeks, and a slump by the end of the month. (Black Press Media files)

Strong home sales in early March plunged as virus hit

Sales were trending upwards before physical isolation began

March home sales in Langley and its neighbours look relatively normal, but a busy start to the month turned into a slow finish as the coronavirus pandemic struck, according to the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.

“Sales were steadily increasing as is typical moving into spring, and then understandably and necessarily, they started to decline,” said Chris Shields, president of the FVREB.

Overall, March home sales, of 1,441 in the Fraser Valley area, from North Delta to Abbotsford, were up seven per cent compared to February, and up 18 per cent compared to sales in March of 2019.

But in the first week of the month, sales were on track to be 60 per cent higher than in March of last year, Shields said.

The last part of March ended “significantly lower,” as home sales began to drop, said Shields.

In Langley, 72 detached homes sold in British Columbia, up 10.8 per cent from a year before. Prices inched upward slightly, with the benchmark price of $1,026,600 up four per cent year-over-year.

There were 74 townhouse sales in March, up 23.3 per cent from 60 sales a year ago, and 70 condo sales, down 18.6 per cent from the 86 units that sold in 2019.

Townhouse prices inched higher, to $561,300, a 1.6 per cent rise, while condos were up 2.1 per cent to a $425,500 benchmark price.

Realtors are now trying to find new ways to market and show homes when physical distancing and isolation at home makes traditional methods impossible.

READ MORE: Hand sanitizer a vital tool for Langley realtors in year of COVID-19

“We are grateful that the BC government has designated real estate an essential service, and accordingly, our industry has implemented numerous measures to mitigate and manage risk,” Shields said. “We have suspended open houses, restricted showings, pivoted to using technology as much as possible, and are urging realtors in the middle of completing transactions with their clients to do so electronically.”

CoronavirusFraser ValleyHousingLangleyReal estate

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