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Manitoba and Saskatchewan:
Strong Starts and Sales

By Ann-Margret Hovsepian

Thanks to strong economic growth, which Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation expects to climb 2.8 per cent in 2007 and 2008, Manitoba is experiencing high levels of residential starts and sales. Of the 3,700 single-detached units forecast to be built in 2007, about 55 per cent will be in urban centres. Multiple starts are expected to reach 1,200 units this year.
Although starts in Winnipeg, at 214 units in March, saw an 18 per cent drop from the same month last year, strong performance in multiple starts has pushed total starts for the year to 705 units, 32 per cent ahead of the same time last year. Single-detached starts dropped seven per cent year-over-year in March to 130 units, but marked only a three per cent year-over-year decline during the first quarter, at 370 units.
Starts in rural areas rose to 131 units in the first quarter of 2007, compared to 59 starts in the same period last year.
Despite only a marginal increase in renovation permits issued in Winnipeg in 2006 (5,677 compared to 5,662 in 2005), the value of the permits jumped nearly 44 per cent to $77.3 million, from $53.7 million the year before.
Winnipeg's housing resale market, which accounts for about 90 per cent of activity in the province, experienced its best March on record, with MLS sales exceeding 1,100 units for the first time, according to Remax-Winnipeg. The dollar value - closing in on $180 million - was more than double the volume recorded in the same month five years earlier. This follows a sales record of 11,594 in 2006, an increase of almost two per cent over 2005, reports CMHC's Housing Now - Winnipeg, released in April. Total MLS sales in Manitoba are forecast to reach 13,250 units.

CMHC expects Saskatchewan's economy to grow at about the same pace as Manitoba's: 3.0 per cent this year and 2.8 per cent in 2008. Housing starts are forecast to reach 3,600 both this year and next, marking three consecutive years of more than 3,500 annual starts for the first time since the mid 1980s.
Single-detached starts are expected to slip from 2,689 units in 2006 to 2,475 this year, while multiple starts are expected to hit the 1,125 mark in 2007, a slight increase from 1,100 units in 2006.
Regina saw housing starts rise 11 per cent to 986 units in 2006, up from 888 units the year before. Single starts increased 30.9 per cent from 2005 but multi-family starts dropped 25 per cent.
According to the Association of Regina Realtors, residential sales in 2006 rose 8.4 per cent in the province's capital, and the total dollar volume reached $387.9 million, a 15.3 per cent increase from 2005 due in large part to more sales in higher price ranges.
In Saskatoon, housing starts in 2006 increased 40.9 per cent over the year before, reaching 1,496 units. This year-over-year increase was seen in both single- and multi-unit starts, rising 27.7 per cent (to 959 units) and 72.7 per cent (to 537 units), respectively.
Resales in Saskatoon set a new record, breaking the previous one set in 1996. The Saskatoon Real Estate Board reports there were 4,280 total residential sales in 2006, up from 3,998 sales the year before. The average price for a single-detached house rose 11.8 per cent in 2006, to $168,598.

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