House sales off to strong start in 2010

WATERLOO REGION – Waterloo Region’s housing market shows no signs of slowing down.

Home sales in January maintained their momentum from last year’s strong finish, with both of the region’s real estate boards reporting strong sales.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Real Estate Board set a record for the month of January. It recorded 416 sales, 10 more than the previous high, set in 2006.

That’s a 64-per-cent increase over the 254 homes sold in January 2009, when the region, like most of the country, was staggered by a crippling downturn in the economy.

The Real Estate Board of Cambridge registered 140 sales last month, an increase of 32 per cent from the 106 homes sold in January 2009.

The large year-over-year increase shows just how much consumer confidence has bounced back from a year ago when the global financial crisis was giving everyone the jitters, said Bob Peace, president of the Cambridge board.

The strong sales in a traditionally slow month is encouraging, said Ted Scharf, president of the Kitchener-Waterloo board.

“These results show that there is definitely demand in the market and the traditional mindset of waiting until spring just doesn’t seem to be as strong,” he said today in a news release.

Low interest rates are fueling the house-buying spree, Scharf said. “So long as there are no sudden increases or threats to the rates, it will continue to be a driving factor in the coming months.”

The Kitchener-Waterloo board noted that January’s sales were strong across all types of housing and included 285 single-detached homes (up 66.7 per cent from January 2009), 73 condo units, 28 townhouses and 28 semi-detached homes.

Demand was particularly strong at the top end of the market, with 54 homes selling for more than $400,000 in Kitchener and Waterloo, 32 more than in January 2009.

The surge in higher price ranges helped push up the average price in Kitchener and Waterloo 12.3 per cent to $278,825, compared to a year earlier. Single-detached homes sold for an average of $316,913, an increase of 13.6 per cent from a year earlier.

In Cambridge, the average price of all the homes that changed hands last month jumped 16.3 per cent to $278,527.

The Cambridge board noted that the number of new listings fell 11 per cent in January compared to the same month a year earlier.

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