Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Historic July high for city's resale-homes market

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The biggest summer selection of properties in more than 15 years helped to propel Winnipeg's resale-homes market to its best July in more than a century.

A total of 1,483 properties changed hands last month through the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS), the Winnipeg Realtors Association said Friday. That was a seven per cent improvement from a year earlier, when 1,388 properties sold, and the highest July sales total in the association's 111-year history. A new July record was also set for the dollar volume of sales, at $388.2 million. That was also a 10 per cent increase from a year earlier.

The record-setting performance came on the heels of the third-best June on record for MLS sales in Winnipeg. That month saw 1,515 properties change hands.

One of big factors that helped to fuel July's buying frenzy was the arrival of another 2,300 new listings onto the market. That boosted the inventory of available properties to 5,029 units by the end of the month.

"You'd have to go back to 1998 to find a July when we had as many or more listings," said Peter Squire, the WRA's residential market analyst. There were 5,585 active listings at that time, he added.

To illustrate how much better the selection is these days, Squire noted that in 2007 -- the busiest year in the association's history -- there were only 2,045 active listings at the end of July.

"So that's a big difference," he added.

While having so many more properties to chose from is great news for homebuyers, for sellers it means fewer bidding wars and multiple-offer scenarios than in recent years, and more homes selling for less than the asking price.

Last month, two-thirds of the residential detached (single-family) homes that changed hands sold for less than the list price. That compared to less than half in July 2008, when the demand for homes still far outstripped the supply.

But despite the bigger selection, WRA president David Powell said the record number of sales last month shows lots of homes are still selling.

"So it's not a bad time to put your home on the market. You just have to be priced competitively."

Powell said another factor that likely contributed to this year's unusually busy summer market was the unseasonably cold winter and spring. That likely caused some sellers to delay putting their homes on the market until warmer weather arrived.

He said August also has the makings of another banner month.

"It wouldn't surprise me if we see another record (set) in August because there are just so many listings out there," said Powell. "And interest rates are still low."

July's strong showing left unit sales for the year running two per cent ahead of last year's pace after the first seven months -- 7,959 versus 7,819.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 9, 2014 B6

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