Winnipeg's vibrant resale-homes market appears on the verge of setting a record for the most million-dollar-plus sales in a single year.
The Winnipeg Realtors Association (WRA) said 24 such properties -- 20 detached homes and four condominiums -- were sold through the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) during the first 11 months of the year.
That ties the previous annual record set just last year, with December's sales still to be added to the total.
While there's no guarantee at least one more big-ticket property will sell this month, the odds seem to be in the market's favour.
With 24 sales in the first 11 months, that's an average of more than two per month. And there were two million-dollar-plus sales again last month -- a house on Nanton Boulevard (Tuxedo) that sold for $1.2 million and a condo on Creek Bend Road (River Park South) that sold for $1.1 million, WRA records show.
It's also worth noting there were five such sales in December of last year, although that was an anomaly that isn't likely to be repeated this time around.
This year's sales included the first downtown condo to sell for more than $1 million. That was a unit in Waterfront Drive's Ship Street Village complex, which sold in August for $1.3 million.
WRA president Richard Dettman cited several reasons why the number of million-dollar-plus sales are on the rise.
"House prices are still going up," he noted, so there are more homes worth more than a million bucks than there used to be.
Dettman said there's also been an influx in recent years of immigrants from higher-priced markets such as China. They tend to view Winnipeg house prices as a relative bargain, so they have no qualms about forking out big bucks for a property they like.
The two million-dollar-plus homes were among 863 properties that sold last month through the local MLS. That was a two per cent increase from a year earlier, when 847 properties changed hands. The dollar volume of sales was up 1.6 per cent to $219.3 million from $215.8 million.
The WRA said homebuyers had an unusually good selection of properties from which to choose last month.
"With 3,454 properties available, it's the best November for active inventory in the last 10 years," Dettman said. "In November alone, there were 1,247 new listings, which is also the most entered for the month in 10 years. This gives potential buyers a greater selection of houses to choose from."
He said with the number of available homes on the rise in recent months, the Winnipeg market is now returning to more balanced conditions. That's a refreshing change from the sellers'-market conditions that have prevailed for much of the past dozen years. During that time, the number of buyers consistently outpaced the number of available homes, often leading to bidding wars and to sought-after properties selling for thousands of dollars more than the original asking price.
Dettman said although some desirable properties are still attracting multiple offers, it's nothing like a few years ago.
With sales running less than one per cent behind last year's pace after the first 11 months of this year-- 12,293 versus 12,392 -- he said the Winnipeg market has defied the national media's predictions of doom and gloom for the Canadian real estate market.
"We read the anecdotal stories and 'expert' ramblings on the Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary markets. But in Winnipeg we do not experience the meteoric price increases and the even more startling market corrections that the big cities experience. Winnipeg continues to be a market that remains steady and affordable."
This is also the third straight year the dollar volume of sales has topped the $3-billion mark. The total after the first 11 months was $3.18 billion, which was a four per cent increase from the $3.05 billion recorded in the first 11 months of 2012. The total for all of last year was $3.2 billion.