New survey forecasts a modest two per cent appreciation for the local housing market


The recently-released Royal LePage House Price Survey and Market Survey Forecast showed mixed year-over-year results for the different housing types surveyed in Winnipeg.
The average price for standard two-storey homes increased two per cent year-over-year to $329,104, while standard condominium prices saw a sizable 7.2 per cent increase to $205,976. Meanwhile, detached bungalows were slightly down with a 0.1 per cent decrease to $303,760.
“The overall housing market has remained relatively balanced with the exception of condos, which are currently seeing a surge in demand from two very different demographics,” said Rick Preston, a local Royal LePage REALTOR®. “On one end there are a growing number of young, single professionals using condos as their entry into the market. At the same time, there are a group of baby boomers who want to downsize and see condos as an attractive option.”
Peter Squire, the market analyst for WinnipegREALTORS®, said condo sales in 2013 were driven by the “quest for more affordable accommodations,” primarily by first-time buyers.
“Condos have also benfitted in recent years from a growing appetite for an alternative lifestyle other than the traditional home,” added Squire.
According to Preston, the increased demand has driven an upswing in inventory in the form of both resale and newly-built condo units. 
“Despite this demand, we’re not in a ‘buy anything’ market, particularly at the upper end,” he added. “Luxury condos can still spend an extended period of time on the market waiting for a buyer.”
WinnipegREALTORS® reported 1,759 condo sales in 2013, which was a 13 per cent increase over the previous year.
Royal LePage forecasts a modest two per cent price appreciation in the Winnipeg housing market for 2014, while unit sales are projected to hold or drop as low as 0.5 per cent.
Preston believes that the housing market will remain relatively balanced as builders begin to slow down to ensure current inventory sells. He identified the positive impact that immigration has had on Winnipeg’s market in recent years, and cautioned that any impediment to the provincial immigration plan that slows the pace of new entrants could influence the market locally in the coming year.
Richard Dettman, the outgoing president of WinnipegREALTORS®, said the market is trending toward more balance going into 2014, which will be a continuation of what was witnessed by the end of 2013.
Nationally, the average price of a home in Canada increased between 1.2 per cent and 3.8 per cent in the fourth quarter. 
The survey showed year-over-year average price increases in the fourth quarter of 2013 of 3.6 per cent to $418,282 for standard two-storey homes and 3.8 per cent to $380,710 for detached bungalows, while the average price of a standard condominium rose 1.2 per cent to $246,530. Prices are expected to maintain healthy momentum into 2014, with Royal LePage projecting a 3.7 per cent increase nationally from 2013 and a shift to a sellers’ market in the first portion of the year in a number of regions.
“A few short months ago, the country's housing market emerged from a year-long correctional cycle of dramatically slowed sales volumes,” said Phil Soper, president and chief executive of Royal LePage. “Later, 2013 was marked by a transition to buoyant sales volumes and above average price growth. 
“In the absence of some calamitous event or material increase in mortgage financing costs, we expect this positive momentum to characterize 2014,” he added. “In fact, we expect a market tipped decidedly in favour of sellers for the first half of the year, after which we project a shift to a more balanced market.
“We predict continued upward pressure on home prices as we move towards the all-important spring market,” continued Soper. 
“In addition to normal demand, housing prices in Canada, this year will be influenced by buyers who put off purchase plans in the very soft spring of 2013.”
“Talk of a ‘soft landing’ for Canada's real estate market in the New Year is misguided,” said Soper. “We expect no landing, no slowdown, and no correction in the near-term. Conditions are ripe for as strong a market as we saw in the post-recessionary rebound of the last decade.”