The British Columbia real estate market has had its ups and downs this year, much like every other major housing market in the country. For the most part, however, the province’s housing sector has been resilient throughout the entire coronavirus pandemic, thanks to a healthy mix of public policymaking and real estate agents adapting to changing industry conditions. It also helps that British Columbia continues to be a top destination for homeowners.

According to the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA), residential unit sales surged 42.1 per cent year-over-year in November, and the average residential price climbed at an annualised rate of 9.3 per cent to more than $816,000.

“Home sales were once again unseasonably strong in November with several markets setting records for the month,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson in a statement. “While demand continues to be strong, the supply of listings has reached near-record lows in several parts of the province, with prices rising sharply as a result.”

One of the big themes coming out of 2020 was that households were fleeing the major urban centres and planted new roots in rural communities. Due to the prevalence of remote work or people not wanting to reside in hyper-dense locations in the middle of a pandemic, the suburbs have experienced skyrocketing demand. Will this continue in 2021?

Because it has one of the biggest housing markets globally, anytime there is talk about the B.C. real estate market, all eyes shift to Vancouver real estate. Now that suburbs are gaining traction in the broader market, it might be time for places like Burnaby and Abbotsford to dominate the headlines.

The Hottest Suburban Markets in the British Columbia Real Estate Market

#1 Burnaby

Is Burnaby an ideal place to live? Residents boast that Burnaby offers the best of both worlds; easy proximity to Vancouver’s amenities, within a quieter, more family-friendly setting. An easy commute, exceptional scenery, and affordable housing prices are all appealing characteristics of Burnaby. Are the real estate trends reflecting this high appeal? Indeed.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reported that Burnaby’s housing market is generally separated into three key areas: East, North, and South. All three regions recorded tremendous housing growth in October as prices popped for single-family detached houses; these prices have held steady throughout the fall, with little indication of dipping as we head into the new year.

East: $991,000 (11.1 per cent)

North: $898,000 (ten per cent)

South: $970,000 (6.2 per cent)

#2 Surrey

Surrey has been in an uphill battle all year long. Although it has been considered “ground zero” for the COVID-19 public health crisis in British Columbia, it has seen less than half of the province’s deaths. Despite the challenges of this year, the Surrey real estate market is booming.

According to the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, Surrey is facing “unrelenting demand” for single-family homes and townhomes. The lack of supply is driving up prices in Surrey, which is also spilling over into nearby locations.

Residential retail sales increased by 54.7 per cent, with a lot of the demand driven by the desire for larger homes on spacious lots. The price of a typical detached home in Surrey advanced 10.2 per cent year-over-year in November to $1,156,800.

“Since the summer, we’ve seen the strongest demand in our Board’s 99‐year history specifically for single‐family detached and townhomes,” said FVREB president Chris Shields in a statement.

#3 Richmond

After months of accelerating growth, real estate activity in Richmond hit the pause button. But the latest monthly housing report from REBGV suggests that the B.C. suburb is still doing better than the same time a year ago.

For example, the benchmark price, which represents a typical property in the municipality’s housing market, was $1,580,100 in November. This is up by six per cent compared to November of last year.

Although month-to-month home sales were down in Richmond, REBVG officials pointed out that they are also up from the same time a year ago.

#4 Langley

Langley might be setting itself up for a breakout 2021 if this year is any indicator.

The latest data from the FVREB highlight that demand is beginning to seep into Langley, raising home prices across the city. In November, the benchmark price of a detached house rose 12.6 per cent year-over-year to $1,115,200. Single-family home sales surged 74.4 per cent, with 143 transactions.

“We’re running out of superlatives,” said Chris Shields, the FVREB president. “We expected November activity to moderate due to the season, but the desire for family-sized homes and their benefits continues to dominate. Since the summer, we’ve seen the strongest demand in our board’s 99-year history specifically for single-family detached and townhomes.”

Due to the lack of inventory in Langley, says Shields, supply will be unable to keep up with demand over the next several months.

#5 Kelowna

The Kelowna real estate market continues to witness exponential growth in prices and sales activity, says the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB).

In October, home sales in the greater Kelowna area increased 85 per cent year-over-year, and they were up 19 per cent in the first ten months of 2020. What is more, the average selling price of a single-family home jumped 13 per cent to $790,000.

Overall, the average selling price in 2020 for all residential properties, including condominiums and townhomes in Kelowna, gained 15 per cent to $646,00.

“Seasonally, we normally see the market start to calm down towards the colder months, however that was not the case for October,” said OMREB president Kim Heizmann in a news release. “This seems to be a trend across the province as demand for more living space continues to drive consumer incentives.”

What Will 2021 Look Like?

Despite being in the middle of a global health pandemic and a slowly recovering national economy, the Canadian real estate market has been one of the lone bright spots in an otherwise disappointing year. Although the major markets are red hot, the smaller rural areas are also experiencing record highs. With interest rates expected to remain historically low for longer, the housing market will likely carry over its impressive 2020 performance into 2021 – in both British Columbia and across the rest of the country.