The real estate market in 2020 has been one of the few positives.
Before the pandemic took hold in March, resulting in massive economic shutdowns, sales were performing well with first quarter sales up 12%. It has to be one of WinnipegREALTORS® strongest first quarters on record. There was every reason to believe the spring market, which always begins in earnest in April with an influx of new listings, was looking promising.
As the pandemic unfolded, this didn't happen. Listings in April were down 42% and 21% in May. Sales were down too, but not to the same extent. Even early on, buyers were more motivated than sellers, and sales in April and May decreased 32% and 18% respectively.
June showed a recovery, with the economy opening up and the industry adapting to new public health orders and protocols to keep everyone safe from Covid-19. Buyers responded in record numbers as sales fell just shy of 1,900, surpassing the previous best monthly record for sales of 1,705 in May 2019.
As sales rebounded, listings also showed a slight increase over June 2019.
The second half of 2020 continued this pattern and as inventory couldn't keep up with buyers, it became a 'seller's market'.
WinnipegREALTORS® and the Manitoba Real Estate Association (MREA) conducted a Probe Research survey in June that backed up strong buyer intentions to purchase a home in 2020 — with the vast majority saying they were undeterred by the pandemic.
The v-shaped recovery continued beyond catching up to the sales deficit created in first half of 2020 and surpassed what the year-to-date MLS® numbers were for the same period in 2019.
July was another record month in which year-to-date sales were ahead by 5% from 2019, but sellers were more reluctant to put their home on the market, so listings dropped 10% in July compared to July 2019.
As a result, listing supply or current MLS® inventory, which was a 'balanced market' at the beginning of 2020, was dropping. What was 4.5 months of supply to start the year became only 3 months of supply available for sale in August, and 2.3 months going into September, with a third consecutive month in August of over 1,800 sales.
2020 likely set a new annual record for sales in October at close to 14,000 and is well over 15,000 sales in December. December represents the seventh consecutive month of record-breaking monthly sales with a 38% increase for the December 1st-15th period.
New listings on the MLS®, up until the end of November, are in fact down 9% from the same period in 2019. This is main reason for double-digit average residential-detached sale price increases in the last few months.
The Steinbach MLS® area, as it has been for years, is the leading MLS® area within the WinnipegREALTORS® market region and it will approach 900 sales this year. No other MLS® area comes close in total numbers. The second most active area is the Morden/Winkler MLS® area with 652 sales at the end of November.
Specifically in Winnipeg, the busiest MLS® area reaching close to 600 by year end is the Waverley West area in southwest Winnipeg. This development has been growing the last few years with newer communities like Prairie Pointe offering new lots to build on.
Rural in 2020 has stood out with a gain in total MLS® market share of 6%. Last year, the split between Winnipeg and rural MLS® areas was 70/30 but is now 64/36. A shortage of listings in highly sought after neighourhoods in Winnipeg have impeded the number of potential sales. Another contributor to rural sales this year is the 70% increase in vacant land sales and 26% in resort property sales as of the end of November. Combined they exceed 900 sales. Vacant lands are mainly located outside Winnipeg with most located in Manitoba resort areas.
The popular resort communities on the west side of Lake Winnipeg (e.g. Gimli, Winnipeg Beach) had 332 sales as of the end of November compared to 231 the same period last year. Similarly the east side of Lake Winnipeg resort communities like Grand Marais and Victoria Beach nearly doubled their sales from 123 to 239.
2020 won't be forgotten anytime soon, but I look forward to what 2021 has to offer with a possible vaccine, re-opening of all businesses, and being free to visit friends and family again.