by Todd Lewys
While it’s no surprise that sales of residential-detached homes and condominiums remain strong, another lesser-known market segment is showing surprising strength.
“Sales of single-attached properties have become something of a niche market, with them accounting for 3.3 per cent of sales behind residential-detached homes (73 per cent) and condominiums (15 per cent),” said WinnipegREALTORS® market analyst, Peter Squire. “Moreover, sales of single-attached properties are up 16 per cent this year compared to last year. There were 216 sales in the first half of 2014.”
Granted, a market share of less than four per cent isn’t staggering. However, the increase in sales might signal a trend that’s fuelled by a number of factors. Those factors would be (in no particular order) affordability, an opportunity to gain equity, and the increased livability that comes with living in a house rather than an apartment.
REALTOR® Eric Neumann said it only makes sense to look at buying a single-attached property if you’re renting.
“Basically, if you can get yourself into a financial position where you have a down payment that will give you a chance to build equity — provided your monthly payments are within your means — looking at buying a single-attached home is a good idea,” he said. “A single attached home comes with many advantages that make it better than renting an apartment, or even buying a condominium. Right now, one of those advantages is that they’re affordable.”
Affordability aside, other advantages include intangibles such as not having to pay condominium fees, and having more space to spread out, especially if you have a young, active family.
“One of the biggest benefits of going from an apartment to a single-attached home is that they offer more separation for families,” said Neumann. “Not only will you likely have more square footage, but you’ll also have a yard, and a basement. Instead of being cooped up in an apartment, kids can go out to play in the back yard, or downstairs. Or, teens can take their friends downstairs to hang out in the rec room. There’s also the benefit of additional storage space, too.”
Steve Hunt-Lesage, a REALTOR® who specializes in helping first-time buyers find affordable entry-level homes, said the value that single attached homes deliver is unparalleled.
“I’ve put a lot of clients into single-attached homes over the last five years,” he said. “For first-time home owners, the difference between living in an apartment and a single attached home is night and day. It’s not an issue for them to make the move. In an apartment, they were sharing several walls; with a single attached home, they’re only sharing one. It’s a no-brainer to make the transition. You not only gain equity, but increased livability.”
Like Neumann, Hunt-Lesage said the increased livability, along with affordability, is what’s prompting first-time buyers to go the single-attached route.
“Having a yard for kids to play in and a basement with a rec room provides the added living space that allows families to keep their sanity,” he said. “You can’t compare apartment living to living in a single attached home. Living with everyone on one level is tough. I’ve got a young, active family, and I know we’d go nuts without having a yard and basement.”
Neumann added that even though you might be spending $180,000 to $225,000 to acquire a single-attached home, the investment is worth it.
“You not only get more value for your hard-earned money, but your money is actually going somewhere,” he said. “You’re not only gaining a better lifestyle, but you’re gaining equity. In time, you can sell and then take that equity and get into a single detached home.”
There’s also a decent supply of single-attached homes to choose from, said Hunt-Lesage.
“They’re available all over in the city, in communities such as Charleswood, Crestview and Windsor Park, to name a few,” said Hunt-Lesage. “Now is a good time to get into a single-attached home, because the price gap between them and single-detached homes is closing. After living in an apartment, clients are just so happy to get into a single-attached home for all the extra things they offer.”