According to real estate and moving company data, people from the Vancouver area are moving eastward into Chilliwack — the second fastest growing city in Canada — accompanying steadily rising house prices throughout the lower mainland.

February’s real estate records showed more house buying since record-keeping began, 42 percent higher than last February. The biggest jump was in single family houses.

The large increase in house buying is part of a steady trend, according to the moving company U-Haul, which keeps track of moving vehicle rentals and where they move belongings to and from.

Fifty-five percent of their truck rentals brought belongings into Chilliwack last year, a 26 percent increase from the year before.

House inventory in Chilliwack is low at the moment, down from 1,369 to just over 1,000 listings, according to the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB).

The average house price in Chilliwack is currently around $500,000.

A lot of Chilliwack’s new residents are former residents of Vancouver and the surrounding area.

“More people coming out from Cloverdale, a lot of people from New Westminster, Vancouver, selling old houses, moving out here, buying a small acreage with a bigger, newer, nicer house, a new car and putting money in the bank,” local realtor Ian Hornby commented.

He estimates that of new Chilliwack residents, half are from Metro Vancouver. From the wealthy area of North Vancouver, Hornby said, people are selling $3 million dollar homes and buying hobby farms in Ryder Lake.

All of this means large profits for real estate companies. The 283 house sales that took place in February represent almost $100 million changing hands. The 42 percent increase in houses sold over last year was accompanied by a 54 percent increase in house sales value.

By Andy Stern