The best January sales in sixteen years pushes the market above 600 sold level

Sixteen years ago, Canada won the World Junior Hockey Championship by beating the U.S. 2-0, Jean Chrétien was Canada’s prime minister and Gary Filmon was the premier of Manitoba.
And it was 16 years ago that the month of January first surpassed 600 MLS® sales, a level that had not been reached again until January this year.
WinnipegREALTORS® president Richard Dettman said a few Januarys in the early 2000s flirted with 600 in sales, but fell short.
In January this year, MLS® sales hit 616 units, which was seven per cent off the best January in the 110-year history of WinnipegREALTORS®, when sales topped 660 units in 1997.
“But whatever way you look at it, January 2013 was a great kick start to the year,” added Dettman, “with the second best unit sales on record for this month.”
While unit sales fell short of 1997’s mark, January did set an all-time dollar volume record for the month. 
Dettman said dollar volume climbed 10 per cent from the same month last year, reaching $146.9 million in sales.
“While only one month, this January’s result is encouraging and indicates that strong market fundamentals are well in play,” said Dettman, “as has been the case in recent years.”
The strong fundamentals mentioned by Dettman are job security, historically low mortgage interest rates and high consumer confidence.
“To be honest,” said Peter Squire, the market analyst for WinnipegREALTORS®, “interest rates have clearly been a boon to real estate activity over the past few years. Low interest rates make housing more affordable even when prices go up.”
But WinnipegREALTORS® is  predicting only a low single-digit percentage increase in housing prices this year, so affordability will remain a strong fundamental in the real estate market.
According to a recent Royal LePage forecast, the increase in house prices will only average one per cent in 2013. 
In another report, CIBC economist Benjamin Tal wrote that consumer fundamentals in Winnipeg “are in good shape with a relatively healthy labour market and the nation’s lowest personal bankruptcy rate.”
According to Tal, Winnipeg’s housing market has shown resilient slow and steady growth, while other Canadian centres witnessed dramatic ups and downs.
Dettman said an impetus to the strong sales in January was a 11 per cent increase in MLS® listings. In January, 1,164 new properties were added to the market.
“These were a welcome addition to the existing inventory and gave buyers more options to choose from,” he added.
“Our increase in new listings and having a larger overall inventory in comparison to the last few years has created more balance in the housing market. Buyers should find some positive news in this emerging trend.”
Dettman said there were a number of MLS® areas showing an improvement in higher conversions of residential-detached listings-to-sales, such as Deer Lodge and West Kildonan in Winnipeg and the rural MLS® area that includes Lac du Bonnet.
With more inventory available, nearly two of every three residential-detached properties sold for below list price in January, which also applied to condo sales. Still, 24 per cent of residential-detached sales went for above list price. Seventeen per cent of condo sales were above list price.
In addition, condo sales last month rose 26 per cent when compared to January 2012. 
The most active residential price range was between $150,000 to $199,999 with 21 per cent of sales.