National dollar volume down while local market records gain

For the fifth year in a row, more than a quarter of a million units were sold in Canada through the Multiple Listings Service® during the first six months of the year. 

The report from the Canadian Real Estate Association also showed that seasonally-adjusted national activity in 2008 held steady since posting a six per cent month-over-month decline in February.

However, national MLS® sales activity in the first half of 2008 was down 13.1 per cent compared to record levels for the same period last year.

By comparison, the WinnipegREALTORS® Association reported MLS® sales in the first half this year were only down 1.97 per cent compared to last year.

On a seasonally-adjusted basis, national dollar volume was valued at $36 billion in the second quarter, down 3.1 per cent quarter-over-quarter. This is the fourth quarterly decline since dollar volume peaked one year ago. 

In June, the seasonally-adjusted dollar value of MLS® sales edged 0.2 per cent higher on a month-over-month basis to $12.0 billion. 

In Winnipeg, year-over-year dollar volume bucked the national trend and was up 13.47 per cent.

“Over $1.3 billion in sales activity is a wonderful performance by MLS®,” said WinnipegREALTORS® president Darlene Clare.

Across Canada, MLS® residential dollar volume totaled $78.9 billion in the first half of 2008. This was the second highest level on record for the first six months of the year, but down 10 per cent from the peak reached last year.

“In essence, Canada’s housing market has pulled back from the record-setting pace set in 2007, but in most provinces it continues at or near sales levels set in the years before that,” said Canadian Real Estate Association president Calvin Lindberg. “The increase in housing prices is also pulling back from the record-setting pace of last year, but we have yet to see any of the price contractions that have impacted the housing market in the United States.”

The national MLS® residential average price set new records for the first half of 2008, as well as for the second quarter period. In the first half of 2008, the MLS® residential average price rose 3.6 per cent year-over-year to $313,610. 

On a quarterly basis, the average price was $315,760 in the second quarter, up 1.8 per cent from the second quarter of 2007. In June the national average price held steady on a year-over-year basis at $314,028.

Average price was unchanged in Alberta, but rose on a year-over-year basis in all other provinces in June, including Manitoba. 

In Winnipeg, the average price of a bungalow rose this year by 12.5 per cent to $233,899 when compared to the second quarter of 2007. 

The number of new listings of homes for sale on MLS® of all real estate boards in Canada reached record levels in the first half of 2008 as sales activity retreated from last year’s record levels.

Clare said local listings have noticeably increased with active listings rising by 28 per cent heading into July.

Nationally, new MLS® residential listings numbered 518,270 units in the first six months of 2008, up 9.6 per cent from the previous record set in the same period last year. This is the first time in any six-month period that new MLS® listings surpassed half a million units. 

Fuelled by the highest monthly levels on record in April, May, and June, seasonally-adjusted new listings climbed 5.1 per cent quarter-over-quarter to a new record level in the second quarter of 2008. 

“Resale housing activity is cooling evenly in rural, suburban, and urban markets,” said CREA chief economist Gregory Klump. “There is no statistical evidence to date that shows increases in energy prices are prompting Canadians to re-locate. 

“Lifestyle factors remain the prevalent influence on home buyer preferences,” he added.