VANCOUVER -- The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says November home sales were down from October - but still well above the same time last year, as the market catches up to the effects of COVID-19.

The board says real estate agents sold 3,064 homes last month, down 16.9 per cent from October, but up 22.7 per cent from November 2019.

The board's report says the benchmark price of a Vancouver home hit $1,044,000, up 5.8 per cent from November 2019.

Vancouver is a seller's market, board chairwoman Colette Gerber said, as demand for detached houses and townhomes is pushing prices higher while the rate of new listings lags.

Although the number of homes listed for sale in November rose 36.2 per cent year-over-year to 4,068, new listings were down 27 per cent from October. That left the sales-to-active listings ratio - a closely watched figure in the industry - at 27.6 per cent, still above the 20 per cent level where prices tend to rise.

Meanwhile, November sales passed 3,000 for the first time since 2015, marking the second-best November in the past decade.

“The supply of homes for sale are a critical factor in understanding home price trends,” Gerber said in the report.

The Vancouver area has seen near-record home sales since the summer, said Gerber, after COVID-19 restrictions tamped down on the usual home buying season, which tends to peak in spring and slow down by winter.

The was a surge of sales in the far reaches of the metro area, such as the Sunshine Coast, Gulf Islands and Squamish, as homebuyers looked toward less dense neighbourhoods amid work-from-home arrangements and physical distancing policies, according to Gerber. The Sunshine Coast, in particular, saw home sales jump 82.8 per cent.

The trend of buyers seeking space was also apparent in the type of homes sold. Detached home sales were up 28.6 per cent during the month, with prices up 9.4 per cent from a year ago. More than 40 per cent more attached homes were sold this November than last, and prices for properties such as townhomes were up 5.6 per cent from November 2019.

Apartment sales growth was slower, up 12.2 per cent, as apartment prices rose 3.4 per cent from last year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.