VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C. – A cooling market hasn’t been enough to slow the rise in real estate prices across Vancouver Island.

On the mainland, July’s residential housing sales in Metro Vancouver reached their lowest levels for that month since 2000, as fewer buyers are keeping prices in check.

But on Vancouver Island, statistics recently released by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) show that the benchmark price of single detached homes in many parts of the island inched up from June to July.

“We’re returning to a more balanced market state in the Comox Valley,” said local realtor Kevin Reid, who is also the Comox Valley director with the VIREB.

“But the conditions are different as we move across the valley and into Victoria and the Lower Mainland.”

In the Comox Valley, the benchmark (typical) price of a single detached home in July was $513,400 up from $510,700 in June.

The average price for a house in the Comox Valley increased $53,600 from July 2017.

Meanwhile, the benchmark price for a single family home in Campbell River was $426,300, marking a very slight increase from June ($425,800). But in the last year, house prices in Campbell River have jumped $64,500.

On the Sunshine Coast, house prices have dropped 0.7-percent from June to July to a benchmark price of $625,900.

And the benchmark prices of townhouses in the Comox Valley ($412,00) and Campbell River ($304,300)  have risen by between $15,000 and $17,000 in both regions from June to July.

However, housing demand in the VIREB area has shifted lower so far in 2018, likely due to stricter mortgage qualification rules (Guideline B-20) for conventional borrowers and rising interest rates that are taking their toll on household purchasing power and affordability.

This has had a definite impact on the number of homes sold on Vancouver Island in July, which is typically a hot month for real estate.

Last month, 437 single-family homes sold on the MLS compared to 438 in June and 556 one year ago, a decrease of 21 per cent.

The number of apartments changing hands last month was virtually the same as July 2017 (100 compared to 101), but in the townhouse category, sales dropped by nine per cent.

Because many of the Vancouver Island’s buyers are retirees, who do not typically need mortgages, the VIREB market has been somewhat sheltered from the effects of Guideline B-20.

Reid remains optimistic, saying that the Comox Valley is still attractive to buyers because of the relatively reasonable price points and the number of resources available in the valley.

“We’ve got things that a lot of communities don’t have,” he said.

Reid predicts that prices will stabilize in the region.

“In the last two years, we’ve had a 40 percent rate of growth,” he added. “That’s huge… absolutely huge. So it’s not really healthy for a market to sustain that kind of growth.”