While this is shaping up to be one of the best and longest ski and snowboard seasons ever, this winter’s excessive snowfall and bitter temperatures have sent somewhat of a chill to area real estate activity during the first quarter of 2014.
MLS® dollar sales in January were down 28%, similarly unit sales activity also dropped 27% from the prior year. The month of February posted an 11% increase in MLS® dollar sales volume for the month even though unit sales for the month declined 14%. February’s sales volume was bolstered by increased sales activity in most price ranges above $500,000 thus offsetting the reduced number of properties sold. While MLS® sales in March continued to trend below that of 2013, the drop was not nearly as pronounced as in the prior two months. MLS® dollar sales in March were 3% below that of March 2013 while unit sales for the month trailed 10% behind last year’s results.
Given the see-saw affect we have experienced in sales January through March, year-to-date MLS® sales for the first quarter totals $113.2 million, a drop of $7.7 million or 6% below first quarter sales of 2013. MLS® unit sales of 335 properties through the end of March are 51 sales fewer or 13% less than the number of properties that traded hands in the first quarter of 2013.
As was forecast, we continue to see a reduction in the number of new listings coming onto the market which is leading to more balanced market conditions favouring neither Sellers, nor Buyers to any significant degree. This of course varies by area and price range however the market overall remains stable. Year-to-date the number of new MLS® listings reported in 2014 totals 1,365 properties, down 13% from one year ago. Similarly, expired listings which total 722 properties for the first quarter of the year are also down 12% from the first three months of 2013.
The reduction in year-to-date sales activity is being felt right across the Georgian Triangle with virtually every municipality reflecting softer sales in the first three months of 2014 compared to one year ago. Year-to-date single family home sales in Collingwood of 44 properties are off 44% through the end of March. Results for other area municipalities are as follows: Clearview down 38%, the Blue Mountains down 27%, Wasaga Beach down 21% while the Municipality of Meaford is just 5% off of lasts year’s pace. Grey Highlands is the only municipality that has experienced an increase in single family home sales this year with 26 sales reflecting a 53% increase over the first quarter of 2013. In total, single family home sales are down 21% with 220 homes sold year-to-date compared to 278 in the first three months of 2013. Area condominium sales meanwhile are down 9% this year with 63 sales so far, just 6 less than the same time last year.
While sales activity this year has reflected a softer market overall, weather seems to be the common denominator through the region. Economic factors, interest rates and consumer confidence all bode well for strong sales activity as we head into the traditionally active spring market. Slowdowns such as we have seen over the pasts three months, typically serves to establish a pent-up demand and with better weather soon to be upon us, sales will no doubt increase as the temperature rises.