Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Housing starts on pace to beat '12

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IT'S looking like a sprint to the finish line this year for the Winnipeg housing market.

Last month was the second-busiest October on record for Multiple Listing Service (MLS) sales in the city, with 1,196 properties changing hands, the Winnipeg Realtors Association (WRA) said Friday.

It was also the best October on record for dollar volume of sales, at $316.7 million.

October was also another good month for single- and multi-family housing starts in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area (CMA). Starts were up 24 per cent to 306 units from 230 in October 2012, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said.

That left total starts running 12 per cent ahead of last year's pace after the first 10 months -- 4,002 units versus 3,569. And MLS sales were running only one per cent behind -- 11,430 versus 11,545 -- while the dollar volume was outpacing last year by four per cent -- $2.95 billion versus $2.83 billion.

That's in spite of a frustratingly slow start to the year, when first-quarter MLS sales were down 13 per cent from a year earlier.

"I am confident, with only two months to go to conclude 2013, WinnipegRealtors will have one of its best years on record in its 110-year history," president Richard Dettman said.

"MLS dollar volume is almost a sure bet to set a new annual record at well over $3 billion, and we can conceivably still reach the 13,000-level sales mark for only the fourth time since it first happened in 2007. It all depends on how much buyers continue to take advantage of the largest and best selection of MLS listings in many years."

That's something local homebuyers have had going for them in recent months -- a bigger selection of properties to chose from -- that they didn't have earlier in the boom, when demand consistently outstripped supply.

WRA data show the inventory of available homes is at its highest level for this time of year since 1998. Entering the final quarter, there were 4,256 properties listed for sale. That was nearly 1,000 more than at the same time in the previous two years and 2,000-plus more than there were entering the final three months of 2007, the busiest year in the association's 110-year history.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 9, 2013 B10

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