All real estate markets across Canada have their own unique attributes and characteristics. Within Winnipeg, for example, market forces come into play that affect different neighbourhoods in different ways.
Yet overall, Canada’s and Winnipeg’s housing markets have remained relatively unscathed within a very chaotic world.
“Canada’s housing market remains stable amid continuing financial market volatility, contributing to Canadians’ confidence in the economy and providing support for Canadian economic growth,” said Gregory Klump, chief economist for the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). “Interest rates are expected to remain low for longer, and evidence suggests that recent changes to mortgage regulations are preventing the kind of excesses they were designed to avert. Both of these developments are good news for the housing market.”
So how does Winnipeg stack up versus Canada and other major housing markets?
According to statistics from the September year-to-date MLS® numbers compiled by CREA, the simple answer is Winnipeg is doing well and that has a lot to do with higher conversions of new listings to sales. Winnipeg’s listing inventory was well within the territory of a sellers’ market as there was less than three months of inventory on hand compared to double that amount for Canada. Even in Saskatchewan, which has enjoyed impressive economic activity this year, there was 4.7 months of inventory to sell.
Strong housing demand remains a reality in Winnipeg due to strong immigration and low unemployment numbers. The lower availability of listing supply, especially in the most popular price ranges within the city between $150,000 to $300,000, translated into a high conversion of sales to new listings. So, Winnipeg consistently outperformed other major markets by converting 70 per cent of its new listings on an annualized basis. The national average by the end of Sepember for 2011 was 49 per cent.
While the Canadian Real Estate Association does not monitor how many days on average it takes to sell a home in major housing markets, Winnipeg has to rank at or near the top, as it only took 26 days, or less than four weeks, to sell a home.
When it came to sales, listings, dollar volume and average sales price for January to September, Winnipeg tracked very favourably in relation to the rest of Canada. Winnipeg’s sales were up seven per cent versus the Canadian average of only one per cent. Markets ahead of Winnipeg included Saskatoon at 11.9 per cent, Vancouver at 10.9 per cent and Hamilton-Burlington at 7.9 per cent.
In its October 17 market release, CREA indicated that national September year-to-date home sales were within the 10-year average. But in Winnipeg’s case, the market was above the 10-year average by nine per cent, and down less than one per cent compared to the strongest performing years of 2007 and 2008.
Winnipeg’s MLS® residential dollar volume was at its highest level ever at over $2.4 billion, which was a 12.6 per cent increase over the same period last year.
Winnipeg is in good company. A number of major markets showed increases in the high teens: Fraser Valley was at 19.9 per cent, Saskatoon was at 18.6 per cent, Regina was at 13.9 per cent and Hamilton-Burlington was at 16.7 per cent. Vancouver, however, really exploded with a 31.6 per cent rise in dollar volume. The national average dollar volume increase was 9.3 per cent.
Winnipeg’s average sale price increase, based on all residential properties, was more muted than some might think. It sat at 5.2 per cent in September, while the national average increase was 8.2 per cent. Most major markets are in the single digits and many, such as Calgary and Victoria, were quite modest, changing little from last year. The highest average price jumps were in Vancouver and Fraser Valley with increases of 18.7 and 13.7 per cent, respectively.
Winnipeg’s average sale price of $231,075 ranked in the lowest average price grouping of major markets, and it was certainly the most affordable for its population size. For example, even smaller cities such as Regina and Saskatoon had an average sale price year-to-date of $279,921 and $299,179, respectively. Even Halifax-Dartmouth’s average sale price was $252,773. The national average sale price was $358,954.
And finally, new listings showed Winnipeg as still performing better than the national average with a 3.4 per cent increase compared to -1.3 per cent. As a whole, Winnipeg is doing better than most major markets with the exception of the Quebec CMA and Saskatoon, which have experienced an increase in new listings of 10.9 and 9.9 per cent, respectively.
So what does this all mean! You need to be calling a local REALTOR® to get a true appreciation and understanding of what is happening. Winnipeg is not in the balanced territory as is the case in two-thirds of all local markets in Canada, according to CREA. And the extreme scarcity of rental properties in Winnipeg exerts far more pressure than would normally be expected on the resale housing market.
Winnipeg is not a “one size fits all” real estate market. There is immense variety in the age, size, style, location and condition of properties available for sale.
Rural properties in general are not selling as quickly as Winnipeg’s, or seeing anywhere near as high conversions of sales-to-listings. For example, in the Gimli/Winnipeg Beach MLS® area, the average days on market by September was 47 days and conversions of sales-to-listings was only 42 per cent. In contrast, in the MLS® area of St. Boniface, houses on average were selling in only two weeks, and 87 per cent of the listings that came on the market from January to September this year were sold.