Demand for upper-end properties was exceptionally strong during the first quarter this year, according to a new report by RE/MAX.
A total of 23 homes priced in excess of $500,000 were sold through MLS® — two of which sold in multiple-offer situations — which is an increase of 155 per cent over the nine sales posted during the same period in 2009.
“Manitoba’s vibrant economy continues to lift consumer confidence levels,” according to the RE/MAX Upper End 2010 Report, “which, in combination with low interest rates and a very active move-up segment, has contributed to solid momentum in the housing market.
The report indicated there are 110 high-end MLS® listings available, although supply is tight in the lower range of $500,000 to $600,000.
The highest-priced sale this year was $1.5 million for a two-year-old, 3,650-square-foot home in Royalwood, which is in southeast Winnipeg.
The most expensive condominium sold for $539,000. The 2,000-square-foot condo is located along the river on Wellington Crescent.
The city’s priciest current listing is a 75-year-old, 9,000-square-foot “character” home sitting on a two-acre lot along the river on Wellington Crescent. The asking price is $2.8 million.
The highest asking price for a 3,550-square-foot riverfront condo is currently $1.175-million.
The city’s record for an upper-end sale occurred in 2006, when a 1930s character home on Wellington Crescent sold for $2.08 million.
Throughout 2009, there were a record 14 homes sold for $1-million-plus through MLS®. Thirteen were residential-detached homes, while one was a $1.5-million condo on Wellington Crescent.
“North River heights, where homes can range as high as $3 million, and Tuxedo, where homes range from $500,000 to $1 million, are the most popular with today’s luxury buyers,” according to the report.
Just outside Winnipeg, Pritchard Farms is a popular upper-end market.
“Local professionals and entrepreneurs remain most active in Winnipeg's high-end marketplace. They are expected to continue to drive demand throughout 2010, leading to a new annual milestone for upper-end sales.”
Luxury home sales soared across Canada in the first quarter of 2010, as affluent purchasers moved to take advantage of favourable market conditions across the country, according to the RE/MAX report, which highlighted sales and trends in 13 major Canadian centres and five sub-markets.
Improved economic performance, increased personal wealth, immigration and foreign investment all contributed to a serious upswing in sales. Virtually all areas experienced double and triple-digit increases between January and March of this year over 2009 figures for the same period. Nine out of the 13 markets examined shattered existing records, setting new all-time highs for first quarter activity in the upper end.
“Recovery in the upper end has been nothing short of remarkable,” said Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “This segment of the market was hardest hit when the recession took hold — yet its comeback has been fast and furious.
“There is no doubt that mindset has changed and confidence has returned. One only has to look at the percentage increases to see the current upward trajectory,” he added.
While comparisons are being made to one of the worst first quarters on record, it’s important to note that the bounce back in many areas, including Greater Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg, London-St. Thomas, Greater Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal Island, Halifax-Dartmouth, and St. John’s, exceeds record levels reported in years past.
“Real estate continues to resonate with purchasers at every price point," said Michael Polzler, the executive vice-president of RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “With the top end of the market shifting into high gear, every segment of the residential real estate sector is now operating in tandem.
“Despite the upward momentum, there are still deals to be had, especially at the higher price points, a fact that is motivating buyers to act.”
Most active in 2010 were business executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals. Location was first and foremost among upper-end buyers, followed by a preference for newer homes or those that are turn-key (completely renovated).
With the exception of Toronto, buyers could be relatively particular and take their time in making decisions as balanced conditions characterized markets across the board.
Winnipeg and Edmonton represented good value in the West at $500,000 and $850,000, respectively.
Canada’s most expensive luxury markets are shared equally among East and West, with Greater Vancouver topping the entry-level price point for high-end homes at $2 million, followed by $1.5 million in Greater Toronto and Montréal Island.
Upper-end value markets were most abundant in Atlantic Canada and smaller centres in Ontario, where luxury home prices started at $400,000 in St. John's, $450,000 in Halifax-Dartmouth, $500,000 in London-St. Thomas, and $750,000 in Ottawa and Hamilton-Burlington.
Greater Vancouver holds the title for the most expensive home sold through MLS® in the first quarter. An 11,600-square-foot home, on three-quarters of an acre, on the city’s Westside, changed hands for $10.06 million. Other noteworthy sales included $7.25 million in the Greater Toronto suburb of Mississauga, $6.25 million in Toronto’s central core, $5.75 million in Calgary, $5.5 million in Montréal Island, and $5.3 million in White Rock/South Surrey.
The priciest MLS® listing is found in West Vancouver at $29.9 million, a Greater Toronto home is listed for $23 million in Bridle Path, Vancouver Westside's Shaughnessy area has a $22 million listing and a Victoria home can be bought for a mere $19 million.