Projects like Travino Landing in Saanich’s Royal Oak neighbourhood have powered the regional construction industry as permits for residential construction across Greater Victoria rose almost 40 per cent in the second quarter of 2017 compared to the first quarter.

New construction won’t solve Victoria’s housing crunch

As of September, housing starts were up 127 per cent in Greater Victoria compared to 2016

The building boom currently taking place in Greater Victoria may bring no relief to the region’s housing crunch.

Through the first three quarters of 2017 housing starts in Greater Victoria were up 127 per cent over 2016, with 600 units initiated. Those are broken down as 68 detached and semi-detached single family homes, 336 condos and 196 rental units.

Victoria Real Estate Board president Ara Balabanian said the region’s new units are too diverse in function to make any noticeable impact on the pricey Greater Victoria housing market. He did say, however, that based on the past two years, he expects the market direction to continue as is, which is to say it will slowly inching towards a more balanced state between houses listed and buyer demand.

“After going gangbusters in 2016, an all time record year for activity, 2017 came down a small bit but is still above the 10-year average,” Balabanian said.

According to Citified.ca, which closely tracks the local development scene, 1,180 condos are in the planning stages for the core area of Victoria with 352 rental suites on the way. New rental is a key area of growth with Citified.ca reporting 2,500 units under construction throughout Greater Victoria, with about 1,960 condos under construction.

Cranes are common downtown but many of those developments are two years away. One example is the $100 million redesign of Customs House condos, yet through word of mouth all 57 condos, which carry the highest prices per square foot in Victoria, are expected to be sold this month.

It’s hard to know exactly how many of those condos are sold, and how many of the condos and rentals will be ready for 2018, Balabanian said.

“Some of it is low income housing, some of the [nearly-complete] projects are already sold out, so it’s hard to know what the effect will be.”

In Saanich, buildings such as the Lyra phase one, at Christmas Hill, is coming online 2018 with 39 suites (most have sold) and a targeted move-in date for September. That’ll be followed by a second Lyra building, with 38 suites, targeted for June 2019.

Construction on the multi-phase Travino project in Royal Oak has started for the final building, the Travino Gardens, with 80 suites.

Listings continue to shrink though the Victoria Real Estate Board reported a spike in November sales of 671 over 599 in November of 2016.

Overall, November’s spike is not a big bump, though listings were down to 1,764 from 1,815 one year previous. In fact, indications are that next year will offer a small increase in choice for the many buyers, as there is nothing to suggest gap between buyers in sellers will grow.

One area that will be impacted are buyers on the lower end of the market, who could struggle due to the new mortgage rules and an expected Bank of Canada hike to the interest rate.

“Mostly it’s been such a good run, the market is not going to go crazy in either direction, there’s [nothing to suggest] an abrupt change,” said Balabanian.

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