2016 was a record sales year for WinnipegREALTORS® MLS market

by Todd Lewys

Suffice it to say that 2016 was a very good year for WinnipegREALTORS® MLS® market.

In fact, 2016 was a record year. MLS® sales were up by five per cent, those numbers translating into 13,632 sales, a number that shattered the previous record of 13,079 sales set in 2007. At the same time, dollar volume reached $3.78 billion, an eight per cent increase over the $3.50 billion mark reached in 2015. Moreover, sales across Manitoba eclipsed the $4 billion threshold.

Not surprisingly, single family homes led the way, accounting for 73 per cent of sales, nearly hitting the 10,000 mark in the process, an all-time high. Meanwhile, condominium sales reached their second-highest sales total ever at 1,745, an eight per cent increase over 2015 only 2014 was higher, when 1,798 units were sold. In 2016, condos represented 13 per cent of all MLS® sales.

Sales numbers were – as a record year would suggest – solid across the board.

Highlights included townhome sales at 34 per cent, resort properties up to 24 per cent, vacant land 17 per cent – and mobile homes at 12 per cent. The average price of a residential detached/single family home went up three per cent to $302,729, while the average price of a condominium was $235,508.

Given that 2016 was a record year, the burning question is, what’s in store for 2017? Blair Sonnichsen, WinnipegRealtors® incoming president, said the MLS® market should behave much like it did in the year previous.

“I believe Winnipeggers will continue to demonstrate that single family residences are their lifestyle of choice,” he said. “The number of home purchases as compared to condominiums will be much higher, and Winnipeg will stay on track as an affordable place to buy a home.”

He added that condominium sales should remain constant, and that another trend – higher townhome sales – will likely continue.

“Buyers will continue to purchase townhomes because they give you largely independent, albeit shared living at a lessened cost through a lower purchase price and lower taxes,” said Sonnichsen. “They’re (townhomes) a great option as you can lock and leave and go away for two months (if you’re a snowbird), and have someone next door to watch your place. Premium (newer) townhomes are also attractive because they offer features like attached garages and nice interior finishes.”

Resale condominiums also figure to be a viable option for many prospective home buyers.

“Looking back, 2016 began with a number of new developments with suites that were vacant or under construction,” he said. “Many projects have been completed, with many suites being absorbed through purchase or rental. That being the case, resale condominiums should be a good option for buyers as they have a proven performance record if they’re four years or older. You can see how a condo corporation has behaved, and get an idea of what upgrades, repairs and reserve fund increases will be coming in the near future.”

Diane Macpherson, an Accredited Mortgage Professional (AMP) and director for Mortgage Professionals of Canada Manitoba, said prospective home buyers need to prepare properly before embarking on the purchase of a home.

“The new mortgage rule changes in October and November of 2016 (debt to income rules, the new government-imposed stress test) have made things more difficult for buyers,” she said. “Consumers would be well-advised to meet with an accredited mortgage professional to make sure they understand how the new rule changes will impact their buying power.”

She added that home buyers will likely have to temper their expectations regarding what they’ll be getting in a home.

“Many buyers may have to deal with the stark reality of having to settle for less in a home than they would have before the implementation of the stress test,” Macpherson warned.

That sobering reality may be offset by a market that offers greater selection, said Sonnichsen.

“Buyers will likely find greater selection across the city that will meet their needs, and that there will be more properties available in the area they want to live in,” he said. “At the same time, sellers will need to manage their expectations, as days on market for homes will likely go up due to the greater selection.”

What’s Sonnichsen’s prediction for 2017 in a nutshell?

“It figures to be an interesting and strong year (sales-wise),” he concluded.