July home sales down, but market is still at a steady pace

Sun, sand and fun helped influence a downward trend in MLS® sales and dollar volume for July, according to WinnipegREALTORS®.
Still, the final numbers really weren’t all that bad, despite Manitobans thinking more about taking advantage of the province’s many beaches in lake country, added WinnipegREALTORS® president Claude Davis.
The arrival of great summertime weather meant there was 178 fewer properties sold last month than in July 2009, according to the statistics released by WinnipegREALTORS®. By the end of July, there were 1,373 MLS® sales for the month.
In addition, dollar volume dropped from July 2009’s $2.76 million to $2.61 million in July this year.
Davis said no one should view the July results as establishing a trend.
“We never like to look at one month at a time,” he said. “If we did, it would look like our market corrected from June to July this year, but June dollar volumes are historically better than July’s.”
Davis said the examples provided by other cities show why it’s never a good idea to consider one month as an indicator of a market trend.
“If we looked at July, while Winnipeg was down 13 per cent from last July, Calgary was down 42 per cent and Vancouver was down 45.2 per cent. Even Toronto was down 34 per cent compared to July of 2009.
Davis said Winnipeg is fortunate to still have affordable housing compared to other major cities where there have been dramatic fluctuations in sales.
“The local market has been on a steady rise — even this year,” he said.
“In terms of dollar volume, this is the third best July on record (only behind 2008 and 2009),” Davis added. “But year-to-date it’s the best dollar volume sales through MLS® ever.”
Year-to-date, dollar volume was up 13 per cent over the same period in 2009 to $1.52 billion.
And, sales were up from January to July 2009 by two per cent with 7,647 units sold via MLS®.
In July, residential-detached home sales were relatively balanced with 21 per cent of MLS® sales occurring above $300,000, 39 per cent between $200,000 and $300,000 and 34 per cent between $100,000 and $200,000. Just six per cent of MLS® sales were under $100,000.
For condominiums, nine per cent sold for over $300,000, while 41 per cent sold between $200,000 and $300,000 and eight per cent sold for under $100,000.
The continuing strength of the local housing market was further shown by construction statistics released by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. 
Construction was begun on 664 housing units in July in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area, which is significantly up from the 177 units started in July 2009. CMHC said the increase was primarily driven by gains in multiple-family construction, but there was also an increase in new single-detached home construction with 207 units started last month, compared to 165 units in July 2009.
“July’s construction represents the highest single-detached starts for the month of July since 1989, and the strongest for any month since January 1990,” said Susan Mulligan, CMHC’s senior market analyst in Winnipeg.
Through the first seven months of the year, single-detached starts hit 1,096 units, which was 35 per cent more than were started over the same period one year earlier.
Of the 457 multiple-family units under construction in July, CMHC reported 391 were apartment units, which was the strongest monthly performance since October 2006 when there were 398 apartment units built. 
A total of 840 apartment units were started since the beginning of this year, up 89 units from last year.
“To the end of July apartment starts in Winnipeg more than doubled last year’s annual production,” said Mulligan. “With Winnipeg experiencing one of the lowest apartment vacancy rates in the country, home builders have responded by boosting construction with 656 rental apartment starts in the first seven months of the year.”