Housing market highlights from 2008

The start of the New Year shows MLS® listing inventory is improving. Overall, residential-detached listings have nearly doubled over 2008. For listings over $210,000, there are  2 1/2 times as many — 599 compared to 235 in 2008. This is not surprising as there was a softening in some of the higher-priced sales activity in the final quarter of 2008. If you compare November with a busier month such as June, there is a noticable difference in the percentages of homes selling in the higher price ranges. In June last year, one in every second home sold for above $200,000 whereas in November this price range represented only 37 per cent of total sales. 

Conversely, sales under $100,000 represented 15 per cent of total residential-detached sales in November, while the yearly average was only 11 per cent and during some months sales in this price range fell under 10 per cent. This price category began to shrink as the year went on, but it rebounded in the fourth quarter due to less activity in the upper end of the market.

There was also a flight to affordability in the condo market as seen by a higher percentage of sales in 2008 in the $120,000 to $149,999 price range in comparison to 2007. Nearly one out of three condo listings sold in this price range whereas only one in four sold in 2007. The trend is likely to continue as baby boomers downsize from larger homes and seek affordable condo units. 

As well, first-time buyers are expected to seek out more affordable condominium units than more expensive single-family homes in certain areas of the city. 

The most active residential-detached price range in 2008 was from $160,000 to $199,999, representing 21 per cent of total sales. Sales over $300,000, which accounted for 14 per cent of total sales, was next in activity.  

The latter price range was one of the highlights of the booming spring market of 2008 when multiple offers were plentiful. Despite the total number of annual MLS® sales in 2008 falling three per cent from the record-setting sales of 2007 — the first time in WinnipegREALTORS®’ 104-year history MLS® sales went over 13,000 — the number of residential-detached sales over $300,000 in 2008 were up 44 per cent over 2007, including nine million-dollar-plus sales — a record number for one year. 

The move to a higher percentage of sales in the upper-price ranges in 2008 was clearly a contributing factor in the annual average residential-detached price rising 13  per cent in comparison to 2007 — the average went up from $182,459 to $206,213. Last year marked the sixth year in a row that house prices went up by low double digits in comparison to the year before. The good news is Winnipeg prices have risen in a consistent, steady fashion without any serious erosion in affordability. 

With the increase in listings as the year progressed, supply fell more in line with demand and the market became more balanced from what has been clearly a sellers market, which helped bring down the average monthly residential-detached sale price.  The healthy number of above-list-price offers, especially in the first three quarters of the year, also led to the average home price rising by a percentage in the low teens. 

Condominium prices did not rise as significantly and ended up nine per cent higher for the year, which was up from $158,632 in 2007 to $172,649 in 2008. One condo sold for $999,000 in 2008.

Last year was another remarkable year for WinnipegREALTORS®: a $2 billion year with dollar volume increasing nine per cent over the first $2 billion year established in 2007. Sales fell off by three per cent, but were second highest to the record amount set in 2007.

Out of the 12,630 MLS® sales recorded in 2008: 

• Condominiums as a share of the total MLS® market fell back a percentage point from 2007, down 16 per cent in sales.  

• Single attached, duplexes, town houses and vacant land all had more sales in 2008 than in 2007. 

• Residential-detached by far had the lion’s share of dollar volume sales — only $46 million shy of reaching the $2 billion mark.

Other 2008 highlights worth noting:

• Average days on market for residential-detached and condominium sales was 25 days. The lowest average days on market for residential-detached MLS® area sales were Windsor Park and St. Norbert at 13 days. For condo sales, it was Fort Richmond at 10 days.

• The overall sale price to list price ratio for residential-detached sales was 103.75  per cent, which meant the average sale in 2008 was 3.75 per cent above list price. The highest MLS® area sale price to list price ratio was Old St. Vital at 109.6 per cent.

• The highest average residential-detached sales price was in the Tuxedo MLS® area with an average of $540,611 based on 65 sales. There was actually a higher residential average sale price at $570,450, but it was only based on four sales in the sparsely populated MLS® area west of Kenaston and south of Wilkes. Headingley South had an average sale price of $515,122 and East St. Paul’s was $466,108.

• The lowest average sale price was the central North End MLS® area just north of the CPR tracks at $68,703. The next lowest MLS® areas were downtown Winnipeg at $68,767 and Weston at $94,054. 

• The highest average condominium sales price was in the Island Lakes/Royalwood MLS® area at $316,436 based on 16 sales.

• The most MLS® residential-detached sales recorded in one MLS® areas was the rural area immediately southeast of Winnipeg, including towns such as Niverville, La Broquerie, Grunthal, Kleefeld and Blumenort, where there were 328 sales. Next at 307 was the northernmost part of Winnipeg’s North End (north of Mountain).  The busiest condominium MLS® area in 2008 was Osborne Village/Cresecentwood with 189 sales.