Many factors contributing to stronger housing demand

Healthy market activity in September resulted in the first month this year in which an MLS® sales record was set.

There were 1,127 MLS® sales in September, a three per cent increase over the same month in 2008, which had previously held the WinnipegREALTORS® sales record.

WinnipegREALTORS® president Deborah Goodfellow said the above-average weather last month played a beneficial role in bringing out home buyers and establishing the new record.

Low unemployment numbers and favourable mortgage rates were also contributing factors to the strong finish in September, she added.

“We are recovering from our slow start this year as the third quarter performed extremely well, and there is no reason to believe we cannot finish strong in the fourth quarter,” Goodfellow said.

She said demand for homes will continue to be brisk due to the acute shortage of good rental units in Winnipeg. 

The average rental vacancy rate in the city is hovering just under one per cent, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Statistics Canada’s most recent population report shows that Winnipeg and the province is benefiting from an influx of new immigrants.

“In fact, the growth of Manitoba’s population since 1999 has been quite remarkable,” said Manitoba Competiveness, Training and Trade Minister Nancy Allen. “In the last 10 years, Manitoba’s population has increased by nearly 80,000. This growth was more than double the increase of the previous 10-year period.”

Goodfellow said the increased number of immigrants and people from other provinces coming to Winnipeg means greater demand for housing.

With the lack of available good rental units, the immigrants,  who primarily arrive under the province’s nominee program which matches immigrants with jobs, therefore have disposable income to spend on buying a home, she added.

Besides setting a new MLS® sales record, September dollar volume jumped 11 per cent to $227.6 million when compared to September 2008. Among the sales were two $1-million-plus homes — a 6,000-square-foot Tuxedo home and a Wellington Crescent condominium — bringing the year-to-date number of $1-million-plus home sales to 10, which surpasses the former 2008 record of eight such sales.

Despite year-to-date dollar volume slipping off last year’s pace by three per cent, WinnipegREALTORS® is confident total dollar volume MLS® sales by the end could pass last year’s total of $2.4 billion, establishing yet another record. With three months remaining in 2009, total dollar volume sales were just $25 million shy of the $2-billion mark.

The most active price ranges for residential-detached sales in September were between $150,000 and $199,999 and $200,000 and $249,999, which represented 24 and 21 per cent of the total, respectively. Twenty-three per cent of condo sales were between $100,000 and $149,999. 

Year-to-date conversion of MLS® listings-to-sales by the end of September was 67 per cent, a few percentage points off last year’s pace. Home and condo conversions were 72 and 73 per cent, respectively.