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Vancouver luxury buyers draw bead on single-family homes, says Sotheby’s

Activity picked up in the second half of last year as buyers shifted their preference to detached homes.
Sales for single-family homes above $4 million fell by nine per cent in the first half of 2023, only to pick up by 45 per cent between July and December, according to Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.

Affluent buyers in Vancouver are foregoing glitzy condominiums in high-rise towers and opting instead for single family homes with more square footage. 

That’s according to a new report from Sotheby’s International Realty Canada brokerage that describes the shift towards detached homes as a “dramatic transformation over the course of 2023.” 

Despite a slow start to last year, activity picked up in the second half. Rising prices and inflationary pressures reshaped the priorities of well-capitalized buyers from July onwards, said company CEO and president Don Kottick.

“The gap between what you get for a luxury condo in Vancouver versus a single-family home, that gap is very much narrowed,” he said. 

“People are saying, ‘Well, if this is what I'm getting in this price range, I'm going to move over to the single-family homes.’ And that's why we saw the activity we saw in the second half of the year in Vancouver.” 

In the first half of the year, overall sales above $4 million were down nine per cent when compared to the same time in 2022. However, sales picked up by 45 per cent in the second half, according to the Jan. 31 report.

While 2023 started off slow when it comes housing market activity, demand among buyers has persisted, said Kottick. 

He described the state of the market at the end of year as “cautious optimism.”

Sales over $4 million for the entire year increased by eight per cent to 328 properties sold in Vancouver when compared to 2022. This includes 20 properties with a sale price above $10 million. 

“At this point in time, a lot of people are interested in growing their portfolio … and they're looking to the luxury class, obviously, because it holds its value,” Kottick said.

Sales for single-family homes over $4 million rose by 14 per cent to 301 properties sold, while sales over $10 million surged by 36 per cent to 19 homes sold throughout 2023 when compared to the year prior, according to the report.

Condominium sales over $4 million fell by 36 per cent from 2022 levels to 25 units sold in 2023, with only one unit sold for over $10 million. 

Across Canada, Calgary is cited as the market with the most activity among luxury buyers with sales over $4 million increasing by 50 per cent.

“Calgary emerged as the unwavering beacon of economic strength and luxury real estate performance,” said Kottick. “A lot of that is driven by the positive job prospects, the diversified economy and attractive cost of living.”