The momentum we experienced in the local real estate market in 2015 has carried over into 2016 with year-to-date area real estate sales to the end of February posting a significant gain over the first two months of last year.
Unit MLS® sales as reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® for the first two months of 2016 are up 26% with 288 sales made compared to 229 last year. MLS® dollar volume is up even higher reflecting a 30% increase with $106 million in properties sold year-to-date. Whiles sales in January were equal to the prior year. MLS® unit and dollar sales in February were up a healthy 44% and 55% respectively. It is worth noting that due to the severity of last winter, sales during the first two months of 2015 were depressed due to bad weather and driving conditions making property showings difficult and on some occasions the ability to get here from outside the area all but impossible. The weather this winter has been the polar opposite thus helping to better facilitate real estate showings thus stimulating sales activity.
As we have mentioned previously, with a healthy economy, low interest rates and positive consumer confidence, the only significant threat to area real estate sales is the apparent lack of inventory. Despite a 15% increase in MLS® unit sales during 2015, the number of new MLS® listings that came to market in 2015 was down 15%. This same trend has carried over into 2016 with new MLS® listing activity down 14% for the first two months of the year. For sellers, there has never been a better time to list their homes for sale. While less frequent than a few months ago, multiple offers are still prevalent especially in the high demand lower price ranges. Overall, strong prices at all levels of the market are being paid for properties that are well priced and present themselves favourably.
Year-to-date MLS® sales are particular strong in the $200,000 to $500,000 price ranges. MLS® unit sales between $200,000 and $350,000 are up 42% through the end of February with 128 properties sold, sales of 61 properties in the $350,000 to $500,000 ranges also reflects a 42% increase over the first two months of last year. Sales of properties in the upper end price ranges continue to remain very robust especially in the $800,000 to $1 million range with year-to-date sales of 7 properties compared top just 3 in the same time period last year. Sales over $1 million are slightly ahead of 2015 with 8 MLS® sales reported compared to 7 during the first two months of 2015.
Year-to-date MLS® single family home sales are up 15% to the end of February, condominium sales are running slightly ahead of last year up 3% while vacant land sales have risen have 56%. Vacant land sales during the past year have turned around significantly no doubt due in part to the lack of available housing inventory listed for sale.
In terms of MLS® listed residential single family home sales, not all area municipalities are experiencing the same degree of demand. Clearview Township is experiencing a very strong demand with year-to-date sales of 19 homes reflecting a 137% increase over last year. Sales in Wasaga Beach are up 70% while Collingwood has posted a 14% increase. Year-to-date, MLS® single family home sales in all other area municipalities are below where they were at this time last year. Municipality of Meaford sales are down 64%, Grey Highlands sales are down 50% and sales in the Blue Mountains are down 29% from one year ago.
With spring fast approaching, we will see the typical seasonal upturn in MLS® listing activity. Many sellers firmly believe their property show more favourable in the better weather and rightly so. Hopefully the coming months will see a closer relationship of new listings to sales as the lack of properties listed for sale is the only real threat we currently see that could derail the current insatiable demand for southern Georgian Bay area real estate.