Sluggish housing market beginning to pick up after one of worst winters weather-wise

by Todd Lewys 
It’s amazing what a little bit of good weather can do for people’s spirits — not to mention the local real estate market.
Whereas sales figures were at best middling even two weeks ago, a recent surge of spring-like weather has breathed some much-needed life into home sales.
“The market has been sluggish, but in the last week or so, it’s really picked up,” reported REALTOR® Michael Leclerc. “The listing market is definitely becoming more active. Good homes are still selling, while ones in need of repair are taking longer to sell. 
“Right now, it’s all about supply and demand. If you have a home in a much-sought after community, chances are good it will sell quickly,” added Leclerc. “Right now, I have a listing in River Heights for $299,900 with no competition. I expect it to sell above list price.”
Fellow REALTOR® Cory Kehler said that the improving weather (recent cold front aside) — along with the expected arrival of more seasonal weather in the not-too-distant future — is the elixir the market requires to jump start activity.
“I think the buyers have been out there, but now that the weather’s getting better, sellers are getting ready to list their homes,” he said. “I’ve got a couple of people who want to list with me in early to mid-May because they want to take some time to clean up their yards and their home’s exterior before they put their home up for sale. Once people can get outside and get their homes ready, inventory should pick up, likely after the Easter weekend as the weather starts to improve.”
Like Leclerc, Kehler foresees activity in traditionally popular areas heating up as the spring progresses.
“Inventory is low in established areas such as River Heights,” he said. “Take out areas like Waverley West, which has somewhere around 100 listings right now, and other areas such as Sage Creek, and you’ll find that inventory is really, really low. Good houses in established areas are getting lots of attention, and will continue to get attention once they come to market.”
Leclerc concurred, saying: “There’s still demand for homes in areas such as River Heights, Crescentwood, St. Vital and North Kildonan just to name a few,” he said. “People are looking for turnkey homes in the $250,000 to $400,000 range. If your home is in good shape and well-presented, it will sell. Recent statistics showed that 73 per cent of all homes that sold in March were priced between $250,000 and $400,000,” Leclerc explained. 
“That trend should continue, and perhaps get even stronger, as the weather gets warmer.”
Despite that, long-time REALTOR® Glen Williams said, while there may be bidding wars in some areas, balanced market conditions are still likely to prevail. 
That’s also the position of WinnipegREALTORS®, as inventories of houses on the market have increased over last year.
“I think the market is going to continue to be nice and steady rather than spectacular,” Williams said. “Homes that used to take one to three weeks to sell will likely take longer to sell. 
“One reason for that is banks are being more conservative, as they want buyers to have their home sold before they buy another home.” 
According to Williams, tighter home appraisals could also put a bit of a damper on potential bidding wars.
“Not only that,” he said, “but bidding wars could be curbed because banks want homes to appraise properly. If someone pays $220,000 for a home and it appraises at $205,000, they won’t approve the loan because the equity isn’t there. 
“That’s not to say sales won’t happen,” added Williams. “They just won’t be as crazy as they were three or four years ago. Still the market will be very, very steady, with lower-end homes being our saving grace, as they will always sell.”
Kehler said the bottom line is that after all the unseasonably cold weather, people are ready — to list, and to snap up quality listings that hit the market. “As I said, earlier, I’d anticipate that the market will take off after the Easter weekend as the weather gets better. That should spark a steady influx of listings, especially in established communities. That’s going to be great news both for the market, and for buyers.”