December stats show no slowdown in local housing market

The final WinnipegREALTORS® statistics for December 2008 show the local housing market is entering 2009 in a strong position, and affordability coupled with more selection should be a strong selling feature to potential home buyers  in the coming year.

Out-going president Darlene Clare said the association recorded just 20 fewer sales in December last year than the 520 for the same month in 2007.

“Going into the final month of the year,” she said, “we knew the year-end results would not be affected to any major degree, so our concern was more on how the numbers stacked up against December 2007.

“I am pleased to say our December results were in line with previous Decembers and give us optimism going into 2009.

“Even though multiple offers dropped off substantially in the last quarter of 2008, there were still 27 per cent of home sales at or above list price,” she added.

Dollar volume in December was the second highest on record for the month at just under $92 million. The total was only surpassed by the $94.7 recorded in 2006 when there were close to 600 MLS® sales.

Clare said new MLS® listings continued to show healthy increases in December, recording a 25-per-cent jump in numbers. Meanwhile, December sales were close to matching the new listings entered for the month.

Clare said the increase to 11 per cent more listings in 2008 when compared to 2007 is one of the most encouraging developments in the marketplace, which helped bring about a more balanced market.

When compared to the same month in 2007, December 2008 unit sales were down just three per cent to 504, but dollar volume rose five per cent.

The final dollar volume for 2008 of $2.4 billion in sales outperformed the previous year’s total by nine percent and was the second consecutive year of more than $2 billion in MLS® sales.

“It’s quite amazing,” said Clare. “It took WinnipegREALTORS® 99 years of its 105-year existence to reach $1 billion in total sales. But six years later, we had back-to-back years of over $2 billion. This is not only a testimony to the hard work of our over 1,300-strong network of REALTORS®, but to the positive developments happening in Winnipeg.”

By the end of the year, total sales were down just three per cent from the record-breaking 13,000-plus sales in 2007.

Despite higher sales numbers in 2007, last year’s record-setting dollar figure 

reflected an increase in higher-priced home sales and a rise in the average price of homes.

The average residential-detached home price climbed by 13 per cent over 2007 to $206,213. It was the sixth consecutive year that the average price of homes rose by a percentage in the low teens.

Clare said the other contributor to the 

average price increase was an abundance of multiple offers, especially during the first three-quarters of 2008. Last year, 46 per cent of all homes sold above list price, while another 11 per cent sold at the asking price.

The average sale price of condominiums also increased, rising nine per cent from $158,632 to $172,649.

“Winnipeg’s MLS® market in 2008 can be characterized as one that evolved into a healthier and more balanced market,” said Clare. “Buyers had more time to choose their home purchase.

“The other important ingredient was more affordability. The upward push in house prices evident in the earlier part of the year became less pronounced as the year progressed and the number of multiple offers decreased.

“In comparison to other markets,’ she added, “Winnipeg is still one of the most affordable in the country with the vast majority of condominium sales occurring below $200,000 and over 50 per cent of homes selling below that amount.”