MLS® sales reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® for the month of August totalled $88.8 million, an increase of $4.5 million or 5% over August 2017. This was the first month in 2018 when MLS® dollar sales exceeded the same month of last year. Despite the modest upturn in dollar sales during August, year-to-date MLS® dollar and unit sales both remain at significantly lower levels that the first eight months of 2017. Year-to-date MLS® dollar sales of $630.1 million represents and 18% decrease from last year while unit sales of 1,287 properties are 21% lower than the 1,626 MLS® units sold in the first eight months of 2017. Mid way through 2017 overall real estate activity in most market across Canada began to slow and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) which is a major feeder market for property demand in southern Georgian Bay is no exception. Slower sales in the GTA, as we all Guelph, Kitchener/Waterloo and London combined with tighter lending rules have all served to reduce the frenetic sales pace we experienced in our market during 2016 and 2017. This is not necessarily a bad thing as slower sales, the reduction in multiple offers with highly inflated sale prices lends to a more balanced market favouring sellers and buyers equally.
The change to softer MLS® sales across our region from 2017 is consistent in every municipality that make our market. Overall year-to-date MLS® unit sales are down from 20% to 34% and are broken down as follows: Collingwood -20%, Municipality of Meaford and Wasaga Beach are both 25% below last year, Clearview -28%, while the Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands are down 32% and 34% respectively. As with sales activity by municipality, decreased sales are reflected in every price segment of our market with a particular emphasis on the upper end market from $1 million and up. Sales between $1 and $1.5 million are 20% below 2017 with 41 sales this year compared to 51 in 2017. Sales in the $1.5 to $2 million range are down 61% from last year with just 7 sales this year versus 18 sales last year.
One bright spot in market activity this year is the sale of condominiums. MLS® condo sales through the end of August total 291 units compared to 233 this time last year, an increase of 25%. For many buyers condominiums are a less expensive alternative with less upkeep than a single family home. By comparison, MLS® single family home sales are down 22% with 996 sales reported this year versus 1,273 sales during the same period last year. Lastly, vacant land sales are greatly reduced from one year ago largely due to a lack of inventory. Year-to-date vacant land MLS® sales total 82 properties compared to 234 sale in the first eight months of 2017. Please keep in mind the statistics provided herein do not include sales made by builders and or developers that do not go through the local MLS® system but are made directly by the builders/developers own sales staff.
Tighter lending rules combined with an ongoing shortage of inventory listed for sale have both contributed to the current slowdown in MLS® sales activity we have experienced in 2018. While properties listed for sale have increased somewhat this year, new listing activity is still 7% below the level of last year. Conversely, expired listing activity has increased significantly this year with the number of expired listings up 46% to the end of August. While sale activity has softened, some sellers are still asking above market value for their properties hoping to attract a willing buyer. Weaker market activity nationwide combined with tighter lending rules do not support multiple offers and over zealous buyers to the same degree as they did early last year.
As always, consumers need to adapt to changing market conditions and whether you are buying or selling, working with a knowledgeable REALTOR® can work to your advantage in meeting your real estate investment goals. For a no obligation discussion about the current market and or your specific real estate objectives please feel free to Contact me.