The surprise hit of the summer was the strength of home sales in July and August


While barbecues sizzled in August, home sales heated up, reaching record levels for the month.
In particular, dollar volume sales shattered the previous record for the month by going over $300 million for the first time ever.
Helping to push dollar volume over the top were three $1-million-plus sales, which included a condominium on Waterfront Drive that sold for just under $1.3 million.
If there had been eight more sales in August, the new milestone level of 1,300 transactions would have been recorded during the month. Still, the 1,292 in MLS® sales were four per cent higher than last year’s total for the same month.
WinnipegREALTORS® president Richard Dettman said this year was the best combined summer result in the 110-year history of the association, as July dollar volume sales also topped $300 for the first time.
He said an increase in MLS® listing continued to be one of the main highlights this year with new listings up 15 per cent in August to 2,002.
Active MLS® listings at the end of last month were over 4,000 which represented a 20 per cent increase over the same period last year.
“More choice is a good thing for buyers and we really saw that come into play this summer,” said Dettman.
“The upside to more new listings coming on stream and the higher inventory of available properties to choose from is increased sales activity.”
Dettman said the strong showing in July and August reflected the strength of the local real estate market.
“September is setting up well and as children head back to school, parents will begin noticing a few more REALTOR® for sale signs on lawns,” He added.
With more listing becoming available, the Winnipeg market is heading toward a balanced market condition.
“Evidence of this development occurred in August,” said Dettman, “when there were twice as many homes that sold below list price as went for above list price.”
A report released in July by the Bank of Montreal (BMO) indicated that the Winnipeg market is being aided by favourable affordability. The average home price sits at roughly 3.5 times of the local median family income, which is similar to Regina’s, lower than Calgary’s and miles below the valuations of about seven times in Toronto and 10 times in Vancouver of median family income.
Another BMO report released in August said the Canadian housing market was “summer’s surprise hit,” despite attempts by the federal government to cool down the market.
“It’s important to note that we are not seeing many signs indicating that owning a home — of any type — is out of reach for households” outside of Toronto and Vancouver markets, said Craig Wright, the senior vice-president and chief economist for the Royal Bank of Canada in a report released last month. 
Year-to-date MLS® sales by the end of August in Winnipeg fell by three per cent to 9,111 units, but dollar volume sales rose by slightly less than three per cent to $2.36 billion, when compared to the same period last year.
With four months to go in the year, WinnipegREALTORS® is poised to once again top $3 billion in sales for only the third time in the association’s history.
Last year, a new record was set when sales reached $3.2 billion. In 2011, there were $3 billion in MLS® sales.
The association reported that the most active residential-detached price range in August was between $250,000 and $299,999 with 21 per cent of total sales.
Close behind was the $200,000 to $249,999 price range with 18 per cent of all single-family home sales.
The highest price paid for a home in August was $1.64 million, while the lowest price paid for an MLS® listing was just $20,900.
On average, it took just 28 days in August to sell a home listing, which was four days quicker than last month.
The most active price range for condominium sales was between $150,000 and $199,999 with 20 per cent of total sales. The strong activity in this price range was attributed to buyers who are entering the market for the first time and are seeking affordable housing options.
What is interesting, though, is the fact that the second most active price range, with 20 per cent of condominium sales, was not the next highest level, but the $250,000 to $299,999 price range.