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How others view our real estate market
Jul 27, 2012
When examining Winnipeg’s  real estate market, it’s also beneficial to look at what others outside our market region are saying. Are they in agreement with the local chatter or do they see things differently from afar? 
In the case of a recent Globe and Mail article, its annual 2011 study of neighbourhood-level wealth across Canada showed Manitoba is now the fastest growing province in household wealth at 2.3 per cent. The article indicated our natural resources are important, but the real strength of the economy is its diversity, including private-sector investment and major infrastructure projects. 
As a result, unemployment is low with a high labour participation rate. People employed and/or aware of better job prospects are more confident about their future and willing to take on more risk, according to the article.
More directly related to a discussion of the local real estate was a recent article in the national publication MoneySense. It often does cross-country comparisons so that specific cities can see where they stand in relation to other centres. In its June 2012 issue, MoneySense boldly stated that the best value obtained by investors is in Winnipeg real estate. Locals already know Winnipeg offers good value. A few years ago, representatives from WinnipegREALTORS® shared key insights about the local market’s value with investors in Alberta, B.C. and Ontario at meetings scheduled by the Real Estate Investment Network, or REIN. The study by MoneySense backs up the confidence shared by REIN investors in the Winnipeg market. 
In tracking 36 Canadian cities, MoneySense essentially looked at cities where real estate is still reasonably affordable and jobs and income are positive.  Not only does the magazine’s study look at cities where it feels that there is an upside to prices, but, just as important, where risk is minimized. It grades cities that are in a better position to resist any national downward price movement trend. They assign letter grades for value, momentum and economy.
The biggest cities did not make the cut. Cities such as Toronto and Vancouver already have high-priced housing. The winner was Regina, followed by Fredericton, Winnipeg, Moncton, St. John’s, and Thunder Bay, with Edmonton not far behind. I guess Winnipeg and Regina can create a new rivalry off the football turf. 
Edmonton managed to get in the Top-7 this year, as its economy scored an A+. 
According to the magazine: “For the past two years, Winnipeg has been on an economic roll. From manufacturing and government, to agriculture and education, this diversity protected the city from the more drastic effects of the recession. 
“The city, which ranked No. 3 on our list, has an average home price of $250,000, an average annual household income of $81,897 and an attractive affordability rating. 
“‘A few years ago prices were very low,’ said Jeff Douglas, a real estate agent with Century 21. ‘But our economy is diversified, consumer confidence is good, and mortgage rates are low. That’s a good combination for a robust housing sector.’
“Economic diversity also provides Winnipeg with a stable workforce and low unemployment rates. Last year, that rate averaged a rock-bottom 5.8 per cent. And housing affordability remains high. It takes just a touch over three years of household income to buy a home here.
“The south side of the city has traditionally been the most popular, particularly with families. Neighbourhoods like River Park South, Linden Woods, Whyte Ridge, Island Lakes and Sage Creek all boast top schools and facilities — as well as solid resale values.
“Sales last year were strongest in the $150,000 to $250,000 price range, with the lion’s share of activity in the southwest and southeast areas of Winnipeg. Many older factory-style buildings have been renovated into loft-style condos along the waterfront and are gaining popularity. But downtown revitalization remains an ongoing process with a new baseball stadium, The Forks, and the MTS Centre providing a solid base for further development. 
“As well, rental apartments are in demand. That’s because the vacancy rate in Winnipeg is a slim 1.2 per cent, while average rents for a two-bedroom apartment are priced at $900 a month, making the return on such rental properties very appealing for real estate investors.”
Other developments that could have been mentioned are the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (being built across the street from the Shaw baseball stadium) and the new office tower going up on Portage Avenue across from the MTS Centre. And what about our exciting CentrePort development by the new airport?
The bottom line for our local real estate market is that we are being noticed for valid reasons by others across the nation. There is good value in Winnipeg real estate. 
But as MoneySense suggested, you still need to do your own research. A good place to start would be to talk to a local REALTOR®, who knows the market and will be able to give ample evidence about why Winnipeg is ranked so highly as a place to buy.