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Records are made to be broken
Jan 28, 2005

The bar for baseball, football and hockey records is continually being raised. 

The only possible exception this year is the NHL — league records are not about to be rewritten as long as the lock-out continues.

As the saying goes in the world of sport, “Records are made to be broken.”

Just as sports records continue to be broken, the bar was once again raised in 2004 for MLS® sales. The Canadian Real Estate Association reported that 2004 marks the sixth year in a row that sales surpassed the previous year. 

There were 316,386 homes sold on MLS® in Canada’s major urban markets, close to a three per cent increase over 2003. The average selling price also hit a new high at $245,149, and there was a record run of over 25,000 unit sales transactions for 11 consecutive months.

The Winnipeg Real Estate Board helped CREA reach this lofty level with one of its best MLS® sales years on record with close to 9,000 homes changing hands at an average selling price that was up 11 per cent to $128,000. 

Other cities making a significant 

contribution included the Toronto Real Estate Board, with a six per cent increase in home sales to more than 83,000 homes over 2003. The TREB also set a record when the average selling price went up seven per cent to $315,000. 

The Greater Montreal Real Estate Board enjoyed its best sales year ever with just under 49,000 transactions totaling over $9 billion. The average price of a single-family home went up 14 per cent from $166,000 to $189,000.

Two other major real estate markets making their presence felt in 2004 were Edmonton and Calgary. The latter set a record for both sales and dollar volume. It had over 26,000 residential sales, of which over 19,000 were single-family homes with most of the balance being condominiums. Dollar volume approached $6 billion, a 15 per cent increase over 2003. 

Edmonton weighed in with its first-ever year to eclipse 20,000 transactions. The total value of these transactions was $3.7 billion. The average price of a single-family home at the end of 2004 was $202,711, compared to $191,336 on December 31, 2003. There were over 12,000 home sales. 

Hamilton, London, Ottawa and St. John’s were other cities cited by CREA where MLS® sales activity beat all previous records.

Remember the opening statement, “Records are made to be broken.” 

The final comment in the Edmonton Real Estate Board’s MLS® market release reads as follows, “The strong real estate market in Edmonton resulted in over 70 records being broken.” 

They must have a statistician in their fold. 

Over and above the usual records such as sales, dollar volume, and average sale prices for the year, there were monthly records cited for other property types.

Come to think of it, if the WREB was to look beyond the usual year-end categories and use other property types, specific MLS® areas, as well as other indices such as sales price to list price ratios, conversion of sales to listings ratios, average days a listing spent on the market and so on, it certainly would have set numerous records in 2004. 

One example is in the total sale price dollar volume to total list price dollar volume. One MLS® area in Winnipeg had a ratio of 103 per cent. This means REALTORS were often able to get sales in this area that were higher than list price.

Records aside, 2004 for CREA and the major MLS® markets across the country was exceptionally strong. 

Homeownership is coveted by families. Investors are also turning to real 

estate as their preferred investment 

vehicle. 

Statistics reported in the media show that Manitobans expect higher returns from residential real estate than from stocks.

A newspaper story last year indicated a young couple in Portland, Oregon decided against forking out big dollars for a wedding and instead applied their money towards buying their first home. They definitely saw a house as a long-term investment that would put them on a solid financial footing. Essentially, the couple was not prepared to forego a chance to get into the housing market and, in their view, realize an investment opportunity.

Whether it be a newly-wed couple buying their first home or a move-up buyer looking to find that home they have always wanted or need to accommodate a larger family, this week’s decision by the Bank of Canada to keep the overnight rate at 2.50 per cent bodes well for another strong housing market in 2005. 

There is no question that low mortgage interest rates encourage many people to get into the housing market. REALTORS in tandem with the powerful MLS® brand have been instrumental in enabling millions of Canadians to attain their homeownership dream.

The CREA expects some moderation in 2005 with more balance to prevail, following frenzied sales activity in past years. This will result in keeping more of a lid on average price increases. 

Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist feels year-over-year comparisons, starting in April, will range between three and five per cent. Part of his rationale is that he expects job growth to slow down. Job growth has been a 

major driver in fueling MLS® sales in the past few years. But, he is still bullish for the housing market in 2005 due to high consumer confidence.

So, it may not be another record year in 2005, but it will be a good year nonetheless.