Balance returns to the local real estate market

The accumulated supply of available housing for sale totalled 3.8 months by the end of February, indicating that a balanced market now exists between sellers and buyers, according to WinnipegREALTORS® .

A balanced Winnipeg housing market is considered to be in effect when there is 3.5 to 4.5 months worth of supply.

WinnipegREALTORS® president Deborah Goodfellow said a good indicator of the balanced local market is that the residential-detached listing-to-sales ratio is just under 100 per cent. She said this means sellers on average were selling their homes close to the price listed on MLS®.

In addition, 34 per cent of residential-detached homes in February sold at or above the MLS® list price. During the sellers’ market in February last year, 57 per cent of all residential-detached homes sold above list price, whereas in February this year the total was 22 per cent. New listings entered in February were up 14 per cent, contributing to an inventory 58 per cent higher than the same period last year.

“It is important to point out that while MLS® activity slowed in February,” said Goodfellow, “the average days on the market for a home was 32, an improvement over January by 10 days and only a week off February 2008 when brisker (sale) conditions prevailed.

“Contrast our 32 days in February to Vancouver’s 67 day average and we should not feel overly concerned about the present market situation,” she added.

On average, a condominium listing sold within 30 days, a week faster than last month and just four days less than February 2008.

According to the 16th annual RBC Homeownership Survey, residents in Manitoba and  Saskatchewan have intensified their home buying intentions when compared to the last survey. In the two Prairie provinces, 25 per cent of those surveyed said they intend to buy a house within the next two years compared to 21 per cent in 2008.

In total, the poll conducted by Ipsos Reid for RBC, found that 83 per cent of those polled in Saskatchewan and Manitoba said that buying a house is a good or very good investment.

“The current economic environment does not appear to have dampened Canadians’ overall confidence in the housing market,” said Karen Leggat, head of home equity financing for the Royal Bank of Canada. “Canadians continue to have an overwhelming belief in the long-term value of a home and we’re seeing this in the buying intentions of many first-time buyers this year.”

Goodfellow said favourable mortgage rates and affordable housing are contributing to consumer confidence.

She cautioned consumers to be careful about reading too much into national housing figures as these reports do not reflect local market conditions.

“There is one national housing index created by the National Bank/Teranet that only includes figures from six markets across the country and Winnipeg is not one of them,” Goodfellow said.

“Our local MLS® data is thoroughly reviewed and double checked at the end of each month to ensure sales and listings reported are accurate and reliable.”

WinnipegREALTORS® reported February unit sales of 660 were off 14 per cent when compared to the same month last year. Goodfellow said the chilly weather was a factor in deterring home buyers as was economic concern.

On the other hand, February dollar volume sales remained strong and were the third highest ever recorded by the association at $126.6 million, while dollar volume reached $138.6 million in February 2008. Year-to-date dollar volume is only five per cent off the record pace set last year.

During February, residential-detached home sales activity was highest in the $150,000 to $199,999 price range which accounted for 25 per cent of total sales. The $200,000 to $249,999 price range followed with 21 per cent of sales.

The highest-priced residential-detached sale was $920,000, while the lowest was $20,000. The highest-priced condo sale was $405,000.