It’s now a more balanced local real estate market

The Winnipeg real estate market is being described by the WinnipegREALTORS® Association as more balanced than had been the case in preceding months. 

According to the association, “A balanced market is a healthy market.”

The balance has been achieved through an increase in inventory and a moderation in demand.

“A more competitively-priced market is good news for buyers and also sends a strong message to sellers to be realistic in their pricing,” said WinnipegREALTORS® president Darlene Clare.

“In this market, it is essential to make sure your REALTOR® has a solid marketing plan to give the property maximum exposure,” she added.

The association reported that there were about four months of MLS® on the market at the start of November, which is considered in line with the emergence of a balanced marketplace.

Another indication of a more balanced market is that the average list price closely matched the average selling price in October. In the previous sellers’ market, multiple offers were common and the average sale price often exceeded the list price by at least a few percentage points.

Active listings have increased to 3,000 units, which is a 48 per cent increase over the same period in 2007. Close to 1,600 listings were entered on MLS® in October, a 15 per cent increase from the same month last year.

October witnessed the eighth $1-million-plus MLS® home sale of 2008. The home outside St. Norbert was designed by renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and featured a private golf course on 50 acres of manicured land.

The eighth $1-million-plus home sale broke the previous yearly mark set in 2006 when seven homes sold for more than $1 million.

October MLS® sales were down 18 per cent to 981 units, while dollar volume sales dropped 13 per cent to $183.4 million, when compared to the same month a year ago.

But the association indicated October 2007 was an exceptional month for MLS® sales — the best on record in the association’s 103-year history. October this year was actually in keeping with sales for the same month in  years excepting 2007.

“The real silver lining behind this October’s slowdown, given some of the uncertainty that has been created by the volatile stock market and the global economic downturn, is that Winnipeg’s market is faring quite well,” said Clare. 

“With an increased resale housing supply,” she added, “there are some excellent buying opportunities for more competitively-priced homes.”

Year-to-date MLS® sales were down slightly by two per cent over the same period in 2007, but dollar volume is still 11 per cent higher than the amount recorded in 2007. To the end of October, dollar sales totaled $2.21 billion, which is closing in on the record $2.34 billion MLS® transactions recorded at the end of last year. 

Clare said it is only a matter of time before the 2007 record is broken this year.

“It is important to bear in mind that the Winnipeg MLS® market has been on a steady incline for six consecutive years, so it is näive to assume the market can continue on the same track forever,” said Clare.

“We may be encountering some turbulence now, but Winnipeg is in a good position to weather the storm. Our well-diversified economy, coupled with strong immigration numbers and historically low mortgage rates, will offset the hit in consumer confidence that is occurring across the country.

“Winnipeg has some of the most affordable housing in Canada for a major metropolitan centre, and this alone will be a positive factor in motivating buyers to take advantage of the market.”

The average days required to sell a home listed on MLS® in Winnipeg in October was more enviable than the situation in other major Canadian centres. In Winnipeg, the average number of days an MLS® listing was on the market before being sold in October was just 28 days, compared to 57 in Vancouver, 48 in Calgary, 58 in Edmonton, 40 in Regina, 37 in Toronto and 65 days in Montréal.