VANCOUVER -- The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says January home sales slowed from a record-setting pace last year as the number of properties available dropped.

The B.C. board says home sales totalled 2,285 last month, an almost five per cent decrease from 2,389 in January 2021 and a 15 per cent fall from 2,688 in December 2021.

However, the board says sales last month were 25.3 per cent above the 10-year January average.

The board also recorded 4,170 new listings last month, down almost seven per cent from 4,480 homes last January, but more than double December 2021, when 1,945 homes were listed.

“This market is completely starved of inventory and it’s creating excessive bidding wars, another ramp up in home prices. To put it frank, it’s a disaster out there,” said Steve Saretsky, a Vancouver-based realtor, in an interview Wednesday. 

He said a big factor behind the lack of listings is the “fear” among would-be home sellers about becoming a buyer in the market. 

“[Sellers] are looking at the MLS listings online and saying there’s nothing for them to buy. Their biggest fear is they sell and then what if it takes [them] six to seven months to find a property they want to buy?,” he said. 

“And the way the housing market is moving - in six or seven months, you could be looking at a 10, 15, 20 per cent increase [in home prices] and all of a sudden you’ve lost some purchasing power.”

The benchmark price for all residential properties in the region reached more than $1.2 million last month, up 18.5 per cent from last January and two per cent from December.

The board's economist, Keith Stewart, says conditions in the market remain tight because there is a lack of supply and a lot of people taking advantage of low interest rates.

"Our listing inventory on MLS is less than half of what would be optimal to begin the year. As a result, hopeful homebuyers have limited choice in the market today," he said, in a statement.

"This trend is causing fierce competition for a scarce number of homes for sale, which, in turn, increases prices."

- With files from BNN Bloomberg