A prolonged run-up in new-home prices in Winnipeg has come to an end, new Statistics Canada figures suggest.
The federal agency said the new housing price index for Winnipeg remained unchanged for the second month in a row in December after rising in each of the previous 10 months of 2008.
It was part of a broadly based trend that saw new-home prices remain flat in 11 of the 21 Canadian cities surveyed in December. Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton and Victoria even saw prices decline from November to December. That helped push down Canada's new housing price index by 0.1 per cent, marking the third consecutive month that prices fell nationally.
And even though December's index in Winnipeg was 5.8 per cent higher than it was a year earlier, that increase paled in comparison to the double-digit, year-over-year gains homebuyers were seeing during the first half of 2008.
Manitoba Home Builders Association president Michael Moore confirmed in an interview that new-home prices have stabilized in the wake of a slowing national economy and softer demand.
But Moore maintained the decline in new-home sales here had more to do with the bitterly cold weather in December and January.
"It was 40 below... so during that time period it was pretty quiet," Moore said.
"But it's coming along," he said. Nobody is panicking. Nobody is holding a fire sale."
He said there have even been signs in the last two weeks that sales may soon be on the upswing again. Three different homebuilders he spoke to earlier this week said they noticed a spike in the number of people coming through their show homes over the past two weekends.
He said the Spring Parade of Homes, which is being held from March 7 to 22, will likely give homebuilders a better idea of what they can expect in 2009.
A record-high 103 show homes are being featured this year.