Winter is normally a slow season for real estate, but there were more homes sold in the Fraser Valley real estate region last month than any previous January.

Total sales of 1,718 across all residential property types is 76 per cent higher than January 2020 and 72 per cent above the 10-year average for the month. That’s a new record for January sales in the Fraser Valley. The biggest surge was in detached homes and townhomes.

“What’s driving it? I would say the pandemic is a big part of that. People are looking for more space, and they’re also putting a greater emphasis on the value of home,” said Chris Shields, a White Rock realtor and president of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.

“We never saw this coming,” he added. “When the lockdown occurred, a lot of us thought we would be out of work for many months to come, but people responded differently.”

After fielding 23 offers in six days, Shields just sold a four-bedroom, three-bath home in North Delta for significantly over the $850,000 asking price.

“People are seeing the value of coming out to the Fraser Valley and there are different communities where there are affordable homes still for people,” said Shields. “They get way more bang for their housing dollar in the Fraser Valley.”

January homes sales in the Metro Vancouver region were also up 52 per cent year over year. But realtor Steve Saretsky said the condo market has remained relatively flat as people move out of the downtown core and seek more space in the suburbs.

“I think we have a demographic shift right now where people are pushing further and further out for more space, more affordability. The notion that you won’t have to go back to the office, or if you do maybe it will be in a hybrid type model,” said Saretsky.

Realtors say people looking to move to a detached home should expect to encounter bidding wars. “It is very challenging and scary for buyers,” said Shields.

But for detached home sellers, he says it’s a good time to cash in. “What I’m seeing from my clients is continued demand for space, and as far as I can tell this is going to continue.”