January freeze doesn’t chill market

It was -30°C for much of January but buyers and sellers were still using REALTORS to market real estate.

The Multiple Listing Service® of the Winnipeg Real Estate Board saw 505 properties change hands in January, while 1,472 sellers have active listings on the MLS®.

And, REALTORS are still reporting multiple offers and heavy traffic at open houses as 2005 kicks off.

When you have three record years in a row of dollar volume, you become somewhat cautious in predicting more of the same. Logic tells you there has to be a lull sometime or at least a breather. And we all know one month is not in and of itself a true indicator.

But, the way January’s started it looks like more of the same — a continuation of last year’s record-setting pace.

In the first 31 days of 2005, sales through the MLS® are up almost 2.5 per cent  (505 vs. 493 in 2004), representing a dollar volume of nearly $61.5 million dollars which is up 18 per cent from January of 2004 ($51.9 million).

There were 730 new listings added to the system in January, bringing the total active listings to 1,472 which is up five per cent from January 2004.

Activity appears to again reflect all different price ranges with 19 per cent of residential detached sales being under $70,000; 36 per cent being between $70,000 and $100,000; 19 per cent between $100,000 and $150,000; 11 per cent between $150,000 and $200,000; and 15 per cent over $200,000, including two per cent of the market over $300,000.

The highest sale price in January was $460,000, while the lowest was $10,000 — that’s residential detached houses.

The average number of days on the market was just over a month at 35 days.

In terms of active listings, the highest priced listing on the MLS® in January was $1,799,000. The lowest priced listing was $9,876. The dollar volume of listings on the system is in excess of $130.6 million.

Scott Smith, Manitoba’s minister of intergovernmental affairs and trade, made a speech to the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce on February 8, highlighting economic indicators as positive for Manitoba for the past five years and expressing hope that the actions of the government would continue to make the environment in the province and in Winnipeg positive for growth and prosperity.

In the five-year period between 2000 and 2004, he cited positive growth each year in the labour rate, employment and full-time employment. He also said that immigration for the period was up for all areas of the province.

He reported that projections indicate Manitoba will outpace projections for Canada as a whole in 2005 in economic growth and housing starts, while being below the national average for inflation and unemployment estimates.

These are the indicators REALTORS focus on when projecting activity in the resale marketplace: jobs, immigration, consumer confidence and inflation. And, of course, continuing historically low interest rates don’t hurt the resale market.

The approval of the Waverley West development in southwest Winnipeg brings stability to the marketplace in terms of a predictable serviced lot supply.

If only the provincial government would see the error of their ways in propping up rent control. These archaic controls dramatically affect the affordable housing mix in Manitoba, especially with an aging demographic that will put more and more pressure on the need for rental accommodations as seniors look for an alternative to owning.

If  the minister of intergovernmental affairs and trade is correct in his projections, maybe, just maybe, REALTORS will become a little less subdued in their projections for the full year of 2005. But so far, January’s results are just January’s results, even as good as they may look. It might be another tough year for buyers!

One MLS® for Manitoba

All REALTORS in Manitoba are now using the same Multiple Listing Service®. An agreement between the Manitoba Real Estate Association and the Winnipeg Real Estate Board created Canada’s first province-wide MLS® system. The WREB provides the MLXchange technology for all members in the province.

The members in Portage la Prairie were the last to join the province-wide system. 

The system provides broker-load services to all REALTORS. 

“We wanted to find a way to make technology affordable and available to all REALTORS in Manitoba,” said Brian Collie of the MREA. “This proposal provided an opportunity for our two smaller boards and rural brokers to have access to an MLS® system they otherwise might never get to use.”

The real estate boards in Manitoba have access to the WREB service under an agreement with MREA. 

“It was a winning arrangement for everyone in the province,” Collie explained. “Winnipeg had some capacity available in their MLS® system, and it is modern technology that other boards would probably never get access to because of economies of scale.”

Saskatchewan is the only other province that is close to a single MLS® system for all members. Only two boards in that province are not using the technology platform provided by the Saskatoon Real Estate Board.

(Source of One MLS® for Manitoba, the Canadian Real Estate Association.)