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Winnipeg's house sales, housing starts both drop in February: reports

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Winnipeg’s housing market hit a rough patch in February, with double-digit declines in both sales of existing homes and in single-family housing starts, according to two reports released today.

In its monthly report, the Winnipeg Realtors Association said there was an 11 per cent drop in the number of properties sold through the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) — 698 versus 781 for the same month in 2012.

And in its monthly housing-starts report, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said there was a 14 per cent decline in the number of single-detached starts in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) — 109 versus 127.

The good news was that an ongoing demand for more rental units resulted in a nearly eight-fold increase in the number of multi-family starts last month — 78 versus 10, CMHC said. And that helped boost total starts for the month by 36 per cent to 187 units from 137 a year earlier.

That mirrored what happened at the national level, where a big month-to-month increase in multi-family starts led to a higher rate of Canadian housing starts in February.

CMHC said the seasonally adjusted rate of housing starts in Canada rose to 180,719 units from 158,998 in January.

The Winnipeg Realtors said it appears a 12 per cent decline in new listings was at least partly to blame for the slowdown in MLS sales, particularly in the under-$200,000 price range.

"As we see in a number of Winnipeg MLS areas, there is a real scarcity of active listings. So not surprisingly, you cannot convert (sell) what you do not have," said WRA president Richard Dettman.

However, Dettman said the Winnipeg market is still converting the same percentage of MLS listings as it did in its last two years of near-record sales.

"So there is not reason to get overly concerned with what happened this February."

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

 

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