December homes sales establish new record

December was a month to remember as WinnipegREALTORS® recorded its highest ever average monthly home sale price at $252,414. The previous high was June 2010 at $250,440. 
This record is not typical of a December. Historically, the highest monthly average sale price tends to be during the busier spring months, but this period is becoming far less significant as a determining factor for the average monthly sale price with, not surprisingly, the prevailing tight housing market conditions being the primary cause.
A factor behind the higher average sale price in December is the large influx of new immigrants in combination with historically low rental vacancy rates (currently at 0.8 per cent). As a result, resale housing and converted condos become the most viable option to meet the shelter needs in the Winnipeg marketplace.  
Another December number worth highlighting is a dollar volume of over $150 million, which shattered the previous highest December dollar volume mark set in 2009 by 22 per cent. Prior to 2009, no December dollar volume exceeded $100 million. Helping December 2010 along was another $1-million house sale in Winnipeg, bringing the year-end total to 11. 
Not to be outdone, December MLS® sales of over 650 are the highest on record for this month, and it’s the second year in a row that the month’s sales surpassed 600 properties. Similar to December 2009, when one in three active MLS® listings sold, December 2010 outperformed 2009 due to a higher inventory. A 14 per cent increase in new listings added to the overall supply. 
 December MLS® unit sales were up five per cent (653 vs. 619), while dollar volume soared 22 per cent ($153 million vs. $125.3 million) when compared to the same month last year. 
Year-end total MLS® sales edged up by slightly less than 0.5 per cent over 2009 (12,236 vs. 12,182), while dollar volume rose 11 per cent ($2.73 billion vs. $2.47 billion). 
There were 17,792 listings entered on the MLS® system in 2010, which was up less than three per cent over 2009. Conversion of listings to sales fell below 70 per cent in 2010, which was the first time it dipped below this percentage mark since 2001.
“The numbers do speak for themselves this month, as homes were clearly part of consumer’s year-end big-ticket purchases,” said Claude Davis, outgoing president of WinnipegREALTORS®. “As a result of this record December, WinnipegREALTORS® was able to finish the year edging out 2009 in annual MLS® sales and eclipsed $2.7 billion in dollar volume for 2010 — another annual dollar volume record.”
“Last year will go down as a year with continued price pressure driving up dollar volume,” said Davis. “Sales still held their own, despite affordability becoming more of an issue, especially at the lower end of the market spectrum.”
“In 2010,” he added, “more affordable property types, such as condominium townhouses and apartments, were sought after as there was an increase in condo sales activity and fewer residential-detached sales.”
There was actually a 13-per-cent drop in residential-detached sales activity in houses selling under $250,000 between 2009 and 2010. Another sharp contrast between the two years is the fact that residential-detached sales under $200,000 in 2010 represented 39 per cent of total sales, whereas in 2009 the percentage was 50 per cent. By comparison, condominium sales under $200,000 captured 59 per cent of total condo sales.
Whether it is choices of various MLS® property types, MLS® neighbourhood areas, street location, house size and condition, all become factors in determining what a home buyer may qualify for when contemplating a purchase. Given the ebb and flow of our dynamic housing market, buyers should be contacting a REALTOR® to advise them on what options best suit them.
The most active residential-detached price range in December was the $200,000 to $249,999 price range with 20 per cent of total sales activity. This price range lead  the way throughout 2010 with 23 per cent of total sales activity. 
The average days on market for residential-detached sales in December was 33 days, one day off last month and two days quicker than December 2009. The year finished off with an average period on market of 27 days, two days quicker than 2009.
Condominium sales in December were most dominant in the $150,000 to $199,999 price range with 35 per cent of all sales, while the $200,000 to $249,999 price range was not far behind at 31 per cent. 
For the year, the most active price range was from $150,000 to $199,999 with a market share of 33 per cent. A distant second was the $100,000 to $149,999 price range with 22 per cent of total sales.
The average days on market for condominium sales in December was 26 days, over a week faster than last month and one day slower than December 2009. For 2010, the average days for condo sales was 30 days on the market, a three-day quicker turnaround than 2009.