VANCOUVER -- Commercial real estate sales across British Columbia's Lower Mainland reached nearly $13 billion last year, a 47 per cent increase over the $8.8-billion total from 2015.

Figures released by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver also show a spike in the number of sales involving commercial real estate, which rose 21 per cent over the same one-year period.

The region saw about 2,850 sales in 2016 compared with more than 2,350 the year before.

Board president Dan Morrison says in a statement that a shortage of land is contributing to the steady increase in both sales and the overall dollar value, both for commercial and residential real estate.

The data are collected by Commercial Edge, a real estate system operated by the board that covers all commercial real estate transactions in the Lower Mainland.

Residential real estate prices have skyrocketed in recent years, prompting the B.C. government to introduce a 15-per-cent foreign-buyers tax last summer on homes purchased by anyone who isn't a citizen or a permanent resident of Canada.

The government announced last week it intends to tweak the law retroactively so that foreign nationals who come to B.C. through the provincial nominee program won't have to pay the tax, which also doesn't apply to commercial property.