The first time that the local real estate market had $1 billion in MLS® sales activity was 2002, and it reached $2 billion in sales in 2007.
In 2011, MLS® transactions broke the $3 billion mark for the first time, but that didn’t occur until the last sale of the last month of the year was registered by WinnipegREALTORS®.
With one month to go in 2013, year-to-date MLS® sales reached a new record of $3.2 billion. Last year, the previous record year, there was just over $3 billion in MLS® sales.
WinnipegREALTORS® president Richard Dettman said the dollar volume strength was exemplified by the year-to-date sale by the end of
November of 24 homes valued over $1 million — 20 residential-detached homes and four condominiums.
The most expensive home in November sold for $1.2 million, while the most expensive condo sold for $1.1 million.
On the other hand, one residential-detached sale was for just $61,000 last month, while the least expensive condo sold for just $68,500.
Dettman said the local MLS® activity has defied all the national media predictions of gloom and doom for the Canadian real estate market.
“We read the anecdotal stories and ‘expert’ ramblings on the Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary markets,” he said. “But in Winnipeg, we do not experience the meteoric price increases and the even more startling price corrections that occur in the bigger centres.
“Winnipeg continues to be a market that experiences steady growth while remaining affordable,” added Dettman.
Although real estate values continue to increase, said the association president, a degree of balance has returned to the marketplace.
He explained that Winnipeg had been experiencing a decade of being a sellers’ market, but this year new listings have been increasing, which is an advantage to home buyers.
At the end of November, listing inventory had jumped by 28 per cent when compared to the same month last year.
“With 3,454 properties available, it’s the best November for active inventory in the last 10 years,” said Dettman.
“In November alone, there were 1,247 new listings, which is also the most entered for the month in 10 years,” he added.
From January to the end of November, the number of listings entered totalled over 19,700, which was a nine per cent increase over 2012, and the best total entered in the last 10 years.
“Potential buyers now have a greater selection of houses to choose from,” said Dettman.
“Knowledgeable pundits are predicting interest rates will remain low through 2015, and inflation should be under control, so the conditions remain good for the Canadian and local housing markets,” Dettman added.
The Bank of Canada announced its trend-setting interest rate will not increase as it does not want to risk reversing the current “gradual unwinding of household imbalances” and slowdown in household debt growth.
“In other words, the housing market is well behaved right now and the bank wants to keep it that way,” according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.
Dettman said the market would even be stronger if the federal government stops tinkering with mortgage regulations.
Last year, the Canadian housing market took a hit when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty lowered the allowed amortization period for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)-insured mortgages from 30 to 25 years. The move made it more difficult for first-time buyers to enter the housing market, due to a resulting increase in monthly mortgage payments required by the home buyer.
While dollar volume sales increased in November, actual sales have dropped when compared to the same month last year. WinnipegREALTORS® reported a slight one per cent decline from November 2012 in sales for the month.
Dettman said November sales were still the third best for the month in the last 10 years.
Year-to-date, there were 99 fewer, or one per cent less, MLS® sales by the end of November. Last year, from January to the end of November, 12,203 sales were recorded.
“There is no visible housing market bubble in Winnipeg,” said Dettman. “It’s an exciting time to be involved in real estate in Winnipeg.”