The price of the average B.C. home is set to drop ever-so-slightly in the next year as the market stays stable, according to the latest forecast from the provincial real estate association.

The British Columbia Real Estate Association's first-quarter forecast, released Friday, predicts that the average residential home will be listed at $548,500 in 2012, down 2.2 per cent from last year, while the average price of Greater Vancouver homes will drop 3.3 per cent to $754,000.

But the BCREA's chief economist Cameron Muir says that doesn't mean buyers can expect to find deals in some of the Lower Mainland's more desirable areas, like Richmond or the West Side of Vancouver.

"Prices in Vancouver are unlikely to change very much from where they are today. In fact, last year we saw prices get skewed a little higher than market prices would suggest," he told CTV News.

Last year, the average MLS listed price in Greater Vancouver rose a whopping 15.4 per cent to $779,730, blowing past the predicted numbers.

"A big proportion of sales were happening in more expensive single detached homes in more tony neighbourhoods," Muir said of the unexpected results.

The number of sales is also expected to stay fairly steady in 2012, increasing by 2.1 per cent to 76,817 over last year across the province.

The Greater Vancouver area will see a slightly bigger increase of 5.8 per cent to 32,936 sales.

"It's not going to be a very sexy year in the housing market," Muir said.

He says a number of factors are responsible for the unusually stable predictions for this year, including low interest rates and "tepid economic growth."

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is also predicting a fairly stable real estate market in 2012, although its forecast is slightly more optimistic, suggesting that home prices will rise modestly.

With files from CTV British Columbia's Shannon Paterson