Winnipeg turning into Winn-couver

It certainly feels like Winnipeg is becoming more like Vancouver when it comes to house prices. 

When a 1,600-square-foot bungalow sold last month for $265,000, over $37,000 above the list price, you knew prices were moving up. Times are changing when you consider that only one-quarter of all residential-detached sales in May went for under $100,000 and 20 per cent of all homes sold for over $200,000. 

Nearly half of all houses sold in May went for above list price and another 11 per cent got list price. When the average residential-detached price goes up over 11 per cent from May 2004 to $148,000, you know one $1-million sale on Wellington Crescent is not enough to have made this happen. 

And finally, when a mobile home in Winnipeg fetches $ 100,000 and a new condominium townhouse sells for nearly $600,000, we wonder, “Are we still in Kansas, Dorothy?”

As a result of this spectacular month, May MLS® dollar volume shattered the board’s previous best high by $42 million, and year-to-date dollar volume will easily surpass $700 million before we reach the half way mark this year. The once elusive $ 1-billion mark is becoming easily attainable and new benchmarks will have to be set. 

If anywhere close to the current 21 per cent rate dollar volume is maintained over the next seven months, year-end MLS® dollar volume will top $1.5 billion. It will result in another all-time dollar volume record for the local MLS® market.

Due to increased listings and still exceptionally high sales-to-listings conversion ratios, MLS® sales also shot up in May to register a record monthly level of over 1,400 units.

There may be no soft landing for Dorothy and Toto, if they happen to plop down in Winnipeg’s southwest quadrant where the lot shortage is extreme thus exerting more pressure on the existing resale market. The southeast quadrant is not much better off.

The exceptional year has not gone unnoticed in Ottawa where the Canadian Real Estate Association monitors monthly MLS® activity across the country. Here is what they had to say about some real estate markets. 

May is usually the busiest month of the year for existing home sales in Canada, and May 2005 will also be known as the month of sales records in many major markets across the country, according to CREA. 

Low mortgage rates are one factor fueling the Canadian resale housing market, and on June 6, they went even lower when the chartered banks lowered mortgage rates by as much as 0.15 per cent.

The Winnipeg Real Estate Board said the 1,434 unit sales and dollar volume of $198.1 million in May make it the best month on record. The previous highest monthly dollar volume was June 2004 at $156 million. New listings in Winnipeg were also up 12 per cent over the same month last year.

“May was a phenomenal month for all facets of the MLS® market,” said Ruthe Penner, president of the Winnipeg Real Estate Board. “Most staggering and even somewhat surreal to me is the fact dollar volume that is based primarily on residential-detached sales activity almost reached the $200 million level. Only five years ago we would not have been too disappointed if we had a May dollar volume around the $100-million mark.”

There were a record-setting number of transactions in May in the Greater Toronto Area resale housing market, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board. 

“The 9,209 homes changing hands represents the strongest May on record, as well as the second strongest month ever,” said Ron Abraham, president of the TREB. “Although total sales for the year have so far moderated from the record 2004 by about four per cent, a record-setting May is a sign that the market is still very robust.”

The average price for a resale home in the Toronto area rose one per cent in May to $346,474 from April’s $342,032. The price was up six per cent from the average resale home price of $325,501 recorded in May of 2004.

In the B.C. Lower Mainland, real estate sales reached new highs in May with the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver recording its highest volume of MLS® sales of any month, and the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board experiencing its best May on record.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reported that 4,434 units were sold during the month, a 13.2 per cent increase over May of last year, and the most ever sold in one month. 

REALTORS in the Fraser Valley sold 2,067 units, a seven per cent increase compared to the 1,973 units sold in May of 2004 and just above the region’s next best May in 1991 when 2,064 units traded hands. The average price of a single-family home in the Fraser Valley was up nine per cent to $389,288 from one year ago.

Georges Pahud, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, said the sales numbers were only “marginally surprising, because you’re always surprised when there’s a record.” Otherwise, REALTORS knew they were dealing with a strong market with “more and more people coming to open houses.”

May was also the busiest month on record for the members of the Edmonton Real Estate Board. Total sales transactions topped the previous record set last June by 135 units. Sales for the month hit $480 million which was another record. Total sales to date were almost $1.7 billion, up 8.3 per cent over last year and on track for a record year. 

The average single-family dwelling price hit $223,219, a 10 per cent increase from the average price last May.

For the third consecutive month, the sale of properties through the Multiple Listing Service® in May set a monthly record in Nova Scotia. Fueled by higher residential sales in Halifax and the Annapolis Valley, the total value of all sales reported through the Multiple Listings Service® of real estate boards in Nova Scotia hit  $192,858,799 in May.

The Nova Scotia Association of REALTORS said this represented a 20 per cent increase in total MLS® sales from April, and a 21 per cent increase in the value of all MLS® sales compared to May 2004. The 2005 results also represented the best May ever for the sale of properties in Nova Scotia through MLS®. 

The previous May record for total MLS® sales in Nova Scotia of $166,832,499 was set in 2002.