The record-level increase is perhaps in large part thanks to boosts in Saint John, where homes sales skyrocketed almost 53 per cent compared to last year’s number, while Fredericton gained a modest 1.2 per cent.
“It’s certainly an optimistic sign,” said Sheila Henry, president of the Saint John Real Estate Board. “December was busier for a number of reasons.
"We had nice weather, which helped things and led to a surge of activity. Also, some of the sellers who listed earlier in the year lowered their initial offers towards the end of the year, which attracted buyers.”
With a stable housing market and strong economic confidence in the labour market, said Henry, there are many homeowners scooping up properties at what they consider strong, affordable prices.
“We’ve had about six years where the average home price has floated around $170,000 and we’ve had three years of similar sales year-over-year,” said Henry.
She added that there have been several investors capitalizing on the market, buying apartment complexes with nine to 12 units.
The average price of home sales in New Brunswick levelled at $155,078, down three per cent from a year earlier and on an annual basis, the average price edged back 0.5 per cent from the previous year to $161,803 in 2014.
More homes were put on the market this December as the MLS saw an additional 611 new residential listings, a 27.3 per cent increase. There were 5,389 active residential listings on the MLS system in New Brunswick at the end of December 2014, which equates to an 11.5 per cent increase.
Meanwhile, sales were down in Moncton, falling 1.6 per cent as activity declined 12.9 per cent in the region.
Kari McBride, president of the New Brunswick Real Estate Association, said that confidence in the market has spurred home sales.
“We have a lot of oversupply and we were encouraging people to buy because it’s a buyer’s market,” she added. “There’s a lot of confidence in the market and things have been stable.”
New Brunswick had its hottest December for home sales since 2009, with a 9.3 per cent increase year-over-year.