by Todd Lewys
With sales of condominiums up eight per cent over last year, a simple question presents itself.
Why such a significant increase in only a year’s time?
WinnipegREALTORS® president David Powell said he thinks choice is one of the factors fuelling the sales increase.
“If you look at the condominium market now, it offers great diversity,” he said. “For example, if you’re a first-time home buyer, you can get a new townhouse for as little as $230,000. With prices like that, you don’t necessarily have to go into a resale home.
“There are over 40 projects going on in and around Winnipeg now, so people can choose what meets their needs — entry-level, mid-level, or high-end.”
He added that another factor is a decrease in the availability of new homes, which may also be channelling more home buyers toward taking a serious look at condominiums.
“There’s not a whole lot of room left for single family home development around the city,” said Powell. “If you look at communities like Waverley West (Bridgwater Lakes, South Pointe), Sage Creek and River Park South, there isn’t a ton of lots left to build on.
“At the same time, you don’t need a huge piece of land for a multi-unit condominium project. That’s why we’re seeing all the different projects popping up around the city.”
REALTOR® Garry Hirsch, a specialist in condominium sales for nearly three decades, said there’s a simple explanation for the increase in condominium sales.
“Basically, Winnipeg is finally starting to catch up with the rest of the country,” he said. “They’ve been a viable option to single family homes for at least 20 years, but the Winnipeg market has lagged behind. Buyers have started to catch on to the fact that there are a lot of projects out there that have a lot to offer.”
Hirsch said that when a project — established or new — is well conceived, it offers two things: value and a less stressful lifestyle.
“Whereas a $250,000 starter home might need a fair bit of work to bring it up to speed, a new $275,000 condominium is just that, new. You get superior construction and technology, attractive open-concept interiors and low-maintenance exteriors.
“Because everything is new, you can move in and live your life without having to worry about anything. That kind of value is hard to beat,” added Hirsch.
That value extends to the amenities that condominium complexes offer, said REALTOR® Linda van den Broek.
“Many condominium projects now offer amenities such as a gym, community room and library,” she said. “Now that there are so many projects to choose from, you can find a unit in the area you want to live that fits your budget — and offers you the amenities that basically allow you to live in your own little world when you get home.”
She noted that there are 56 per cent more condo units to choose from this year compared to last year at the same time.
“You can work out, host a birthday party in the community room or read a book in the library — all without having to get in the car and go somewhere,” explained van den Broek.
In essence, said van den Broek, condominium living allows people to simplify their lifestyle.
“These days, people are retiring earlier, and are downsizing. Many go down south for six months during the winter. Then, they go to the cottage in the summer,” she said.
“They don’t want to have a yard to maintain or a driveway to shovel. The same thing applies for young professionals — they don’t want to work on their home, they want to go to a movie after work, or to travel. Owning a condominium allows you to simplify and to just go out and enjoy life.”
Hirsch said that’s exactly why so many young people are moving to condominiums in droves.
“When you’re busy working to establish yourself in your profession, there’s no time to cut the lawn, fix the fence or clean out the eaves troughs,” he said.
“Condominium living just makes more sense whether you’re a young professional couple, empty nesters or somewhere in between.
“People are finally catching on to the affordability, value and turnkey lifestyle that condominiums offer, and I look for the trend to continue,” he added.