For only the second time in the 109-year history of WinnipegREALTORS® have MLS® dollar volume sales topped the $3 billion level. In fact, dollar volume sales in 2012 established a new record of $3.2 billion.
In 2011, there were $3 billion in MLS® sales.
“To finish as well as we did, given the tighter mortage regulations and the regular media calls for a softer real estate market,” said WinnipegREALTORS® president Shirley Przybyl, “is testimony to the resiliency of the greater Winnipeg real estate market and our Manitoba economy in general.”
In a recent CIBC World Markets Inc. report, Winnipeg ranked high in an economic snapshot of Canadian cities.
“Winnipeg’s high ranking (fourth overall) reflects strength in both the construction and the manufacturing sectors,” said Benjamin Tal, a CIBC economist and author of the Metropolitan Economic Activity Index.
“Consumer fundamentals in the city are in good shape with a relatively healthy labour market and the nation’s lowest personal bankruptcy rate,” he added.
Statistics Canada reported that Manitoba’s unemployment rate fell to 5.2 per cent by the end of December.
Besides strong consumer confidence brought about by the strength of the labour market, Peter Squire, the market analyst for WinnipegREALTORS, said low interest rates and a tight rental market, coupled with a continuing flow of immigrants into the city, contributed to the strength of the real estate market in 2012.
He called 2012 another solid year for the local real estate market.
“While December was down from 2011’s remarkable performance for the month, we still had five more $1-million-plus home sales, including the highest one ever at $2.2 million,” added Przybyl.
While December sales fell short of 2011’s record level of 698 properties changing hands during the month, the 615 in December 2012 sales were still five per cent above the 10-year average. There were sufficient sales in December 2012 to bring the year’s total to just over 13,000 units, a milestone level only reached twice before in 2011 and 2007.
In its 2012 forecast, WinnipegREALTORS® had predicted at the start of the year it would be extremely difficult to duplicate 2011’s sales total, but a new dollar volume mark was well within its grasp, as proved to be the case.
MLS® unit sales decreased by 12 per cent in December from the same month in 2011, while dollar volume sales slipped by 14 per cent to $156.2 million.
Przybyl said an encouraging sign was increased listing inventory that should help to create more balanced market conditions, although many Winnipeg neighbourhoods are still dealing with extremely tight supplies.
“Helping provide some relief this past year was the healthy addition of new single-family and multiple-family starts,” she said. “They act as a safety valve for the resale market. In many instances such additions to the housing market create an increased inventory of existing homes, since a buyer of a new home frequently puts their existing home onto the market — thus obtaining the equity needed to purchase a newly-built home.”
Przybyl said rural listings contributed to one of every four MLS® sales. Due to less pressure on housing demand, there is a more balanced inventory, she added.
Vacant land sales rose by 25 per cent in 2012, but only represented five per cent of all MLS® transactions. On the other hand, home sales still dominated the market, contributing to 73 per cent of sales. Condominium sales made up 12 per cent of all MLS® sales.