by Todd Lewys
Now that the warm weather has hit and the trees and flowers are blooming, something else is blossoming — the local real estate market.
It may have taken awhile, but after a spring that was lukewarm from both a sales and weather perspective, Winnipeg’s MLS® market has finally hit its stride. Whereas there was a shortage of listings in prime areas a month or two ago, there are now plenty of listings to choose from with over 4,500 listings in an around the city.
While the local market could still be characterized as a balanced one, statistics are showing that the market remains more of a seller’s market in prime areas with approximately 34 per cent of homes selling for above list price in April.
“That strength has carried over into May,” said Peter Squire, the market analyst for WinnipegREALTORS®. “The communities that impressed me most in terms of their sales strength were areas such as East and West Fort Garry, Charleswood (in particular south of Roblin Boulevard) and Linden Woods, which did exceptionally well considering the homes there generally are higher-end homes.”
Meanwhile, sales in hotbeds such as River Heights, Crescentwood and St. Vital remain strong, reported REALTOR® Rod Peeler.
“Lately, homes have definitely been selling over list in established areas,” he said. “Things are really happening in areas such as St. Vital and Charleswood. I have a home listed in St. Vital that I believe will go for well over list, and I recently wrote an offer for a client in Linden Woods. They didn’t get the home because it went for significantly over its list price.
“Charleswood has been hot, too,” he added.
This news of heavy competition in key areas begs the question: how do home buyers, especially first-time buyers, find a home that meets their needs (location, for example) and budget?
“It’s my job to guide my clients,” said Peeler. “I first get them qualified, then I get them to make a wish list. I then do a market analysis to show them what prices were like last year, and so far this year. Then, I take them around to a cross-section of homes to see what they can buy with the money they’ve got. Once they see what the realities are, they often revise their list so it’s more realistic.”
The reality is that first-time buyers may have to go further afield to find the home that works for them, said REALTOR® Jeff Stern.
“As a REALTOR®, it’s my job to give my clients the realities of the market so they get a grasp of where the market is,” he said, noting that in the last 30 days, of homes in the $235,000 to $270,000 range, 86 of 163 homes sold above list price. “By doing a detailed market analysis that looks back 30 to 60 days, my clients can make their decision based on how competitive certain areas are.”
In many cases, clients eventually decide to look outside “hot” areas for a home.
“Areas in West Fort Garry, such as Boston Avenue and Clarence Avenue, offer excellent locations, and more house for your buying dollar, than, say, Crescentwood,” Stern said. “For the same dollar in Crescentwood, you’ll get a raw home that’s likely smaller, and that will need upgrades. Buy in West Fort Garry or Fort Rouge, and you’ll get more bang for the buck. It just makes sense to buy further out because the home you get is going to offer you far more value.”
REALTOR® Jennifer Gulay said the key to first-time buyers making a good buying decision is education.
“As REALTORS®, our job is to get buyers into the right home,” she said. “That means showing them comparables, which will give them a clear picture of where they can and can’t afford to live. It’s always going to be a seller’s markets in some areas — River Heights, Crescentwood, St. Vital and others. By giving them the proper information, our aim (as REALTORS®) is to help clients be realistic and make a wise choice — a home that’s affordable and that meets their needs in a location that’s as close to ideal as possible.”