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Average B.C. house price to hit record

The median price of homes in B.C. will rise by three per cent this year, one per cent in 2012 and four per cent in 2013, Central 1 Credit Union says.

Driven by higher prices in the Lower Mainland and the north, B.C.'s median housing price will hit a record $402,000 this year, Central 1 said in a forecast released Wednesday.

Sales in 2011 will be stronger in the first few months of the year as buyers act to beat tougher mortgage insurance rules that take effect March 18, Central 1 said.

Regional markets relying on recreational and retiree buyer demand will be the soft spots in the provincial housing market this year, it said.

The Okanagan, Kootenays and part of Vancouver Island are expected to experience weak demand in 2011 as mortgage rates rise, buyers hesitate, and the strong loonie draws demand to low-priced homes in the U.S., Central 1 said However, sales in these areas are expected to rise sharply in 2012.

After falling six per cent in the Thompson-Okanagan in 2011, the median price there is expected to rise five per cent in 2013.

The median home price in the Lower Mainland is expected to increase four per cent this year to $465,000, stay unchanged next year and grow six per cent in 2013 to $492,900.

The Cariboo's median price should rise three per cent to $196,000 this year, Central 1 said.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reported that its yearover-year benchmark price for detached houses rose six per cent in February to $848,645.

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