2006 starts off with a bang

With hardly a moment to catch our breath and celebrate terrific year-ending all-time sales and dollar volume records for the Winnipeg Real Estate Board, 2006 has started off with a bang. 

For the period January 1 to January 15, listings, sales and dollar volume are well ahead of the pace achieved for the same period in 2005. While the unseasonably mild weather may have something to do with it, there is no question the MLS® market continues to march along to its own strong beat. 

The spread between dollar volume and sales increases continues to be in double-digits. With two house sales in early January (usually the dead of winter) approaching $2 million, it’s no wonder this is the case. 

The board has never had a $1-million-plus sale ($1,275,000) at the beginning of the year and this was followed up by a sale for $688,000. Both sales occurred in the East St. Paul MLS® area. The next highest sale price was for a house in River Heights that listed at $309,900 and sold for $351,000.

Whatever may unfold for the remainder of 2006, it is safe to assume another $1-billion year is easily within grasp and $2 billion in annual sales could happen, something we may never have thought possible a few years ago. 

However, Winnipeg was not the only market singled out by the Canadian Real Estate Association for a year-end summation of 2005 MLS® activity across the country. 

The following is what CREA reported under the headline MLS® Records Fall Before End of 2005: Sales Exceed Projections in Some Major Markets:

“A number of annual MLS® records were broken even before the books were closed on December sales in various parts of the country. Some of the most active markets were in British Columbia, where REALTORS booked 100,586 MLS® sales worth some $33.3 billion by the end of November. Those figures eclipsed the 96,314 transactions worth $27.8 billion made in all of 2004.

“CREA chief economist Gregory Klump said housing demand throughout the province was broadly based in 2005, with demand driven by a growing economy and job growth. Unemployment in B.C. slipped to 4.9 per cent in November, its lowest rate in 30 years.

Lynn Hsu, CEO of Vancouver-based Macdonald Realty Group, said by early December her firm had booked a record $2.5 billion in sales in 2005. ‘It was definitely a phenomenal year,’ Hsu said. She expects 2006 to be much like 2005, largely because of low inventories and continued strong demand. ‘Vancouver is increasingly becoming more and more visible worldwide,’ Hsu said.

“In Calgary, the annual combined MLS® record had been broken before the end of November. At that time 29,621 units had been sold through the Calgary Real Estate Board MLS® system, compared to 27,948 in all of 2004.

“‘Typically in November we start to see a decline in the number of properties changing hands, however, November sales remained strong, indicating that the holiday season and end of year activities were not deterring the consumer,’ remarked CREB president, Marilyn R. Jones.

“The MLS® record book in Edmonton was also rewritten in 2005. Total Multiple Listing Services® sales in 2005 were $4.245 billion, up 14.5 per cent from the previous year. Unit sales for all property types were up from 20,110 to 21,276.

“‘Increased in-migration, a strong economy and low interest rates have combined to contribute to the strength of this market,’ said Jim Kulak, 2005 EREB president. ‘Total year-to-date listings were 25,820 homes for a sales to listing ratio in Edmonton in 2005 of 72 per cent.12,504 single family homes were sold through the MLS® in 2005, up 3.9 per cent from 2004.

“The Winnipeg Real Estate Board registered MLS® sale number 12,000 on December 30, but the records had actually been broken earlier. The previous MLS® sales benchmark was set in 1987 when 11,900 houses were sold. 

“‘This was the best year ever in so many ways,’ Ruthe Penner, president of the WREB, said in an 

interview. ‘We saw so many records being passed and new records set. It really was a phenomenal year.’

“The total value of single-family detached houses sold this year through the MLS® system in Winnipeg hit $1.61 billion, a new record that shattered the previous high of $1.34 billion, set in 2004.

“By Christmas, 2005 had already set the record for the greatest number of resale transactions in the Greater Toronto Area, according to Toronto Real Estate Board president John Meehan. With a total of 83,547 properties changing hands to-date, 2005 surpassed the previous record of 83,501 set in 2004 with more than a week to go. 

“‘The phenomenal number of sales this year demonstrates that consumers continue to have confidence in the real estate market,’ said Meehan.

“The TREB president said that even more important than the figure itself, the market’s performance in 2005 illustrates an important point. 

“‘In recent years, we have shattered countless records and while we are always pleased to report that new benchmarks have been set, we are even more delighted that an increasing number of families in the Greater Toronto Area recognize that investing in a home is the most sound decision you can make.’”