Good weather catalyst for real estate market’s return to typical spring activity

Call it a tale of two markets.

Last year at this time, Winnipeg’s real estate market was in a deep freeze due to frigid spring weather. This year, with the arrival of unseasonably warm weather, the real estate market is acting more like a typical spring market.

REALTOR® Jeff Stern said it’s a very welcome event.

“The way I put it is that about 10 days ago, someone turned the lights on,” he said. “Before that, it was quite steady, but certainly not spectacular. The good weather has definitely been the catalyst. Last year, the weather was brutal in March and April, and so was the real estate market.”

That story involves market activity that — in spots — is shades of three or four years ago, he added.

“I just had a property in Windsor Park that I thought I’d priced properly, right in a spot that I thought offered excellent market value,” said Stern. “I got three offers, and really didn’t expect that. That said, the home was priced properly and well-presented. Add in the good weather, and I guess that created the perfect storm from a sales perspective.”

REALTOR® Pat Stecy said she believes that’s a trend that will continue as the weather continues to get better.

“Right now, I’m seeing huge demand in good areas for homes priced around the $250,000 to $350,000 mark,” she said. “I also heard of a home that went for well over list price.”

It turned out that the home was a good-sized bungalow in a popular area that offered an updated, turnkey package. The result, said Stecy, was predictable — multiple offers. What was surprising was the number of offers and the final selling price.

“By the time all the dust settled, there were 17 offers on the home,” she reported. “The home was listed at $359,900, and sold for approximately $418,000. It was a popular plan that looked good in a good location. 

“If homes are in nice condition and reasonably-priced, they should sell with more offers. Perhaps not that many offers, but the keys are unquestionably price, condition and location.”

REALTOR® Suzanne Mariani believes that the time is ripe for buyers to get out and take advantage of the balanced market over the next few weeks.

“As happens every spring, the market is getting busier and busier,” she said. “With the good weather, people are ready to buy. 

“At the same time, there are still so many listings that it’s more of a buyer’s market. While there may be the odd bidding war, there shouldn’t be that many, at least for the next few weeks. Now is a good opportunity for buyers to find a good home at a reasonable price. We have the listings, but we still need buyers.”

However, the buying climate will inevitably change as the temperatures climb and the grass becomes greener, she added.

“I’d recommend that buyers take advantage now,” she said. “Right now, there’s more negotiating power with all the listings. Buyers have more options now, so it’s important that they get up off their chairs before the market starts to really heat up. 

“If you write an offer on a house now, it’s likely to be accepted,” she added. “That might not be the case in a few weeks when more buyers are out looking.”

Still, both Stern and Stecy said that with all the selection, which should be sustained through the spring, the onus is on sellers to make sure they listen to their REALTOR® to create the right climate to sell their house in.

“More listings are coming on the market every day, and that trend will likely continue over the next few months,” said Stern. “That means the market will still be very competitive, so sellers will need to make sure their homes are well-presented and well-priced. If their home looks ordinary and is overpriced, it won’t sell quickly; buyers will just move on to the next home.”

Stecy concurred with her colleague, adding that sellers need to think of selling their home in the same terms as selling a car.

“If, like a nice car, people see you’ve taken good care of your home, and that it’s priced realistically, they’ll see the value when they walk in the door,” she said. “If people clearly see the value in your home, it will sell. If they don’t, it won’t. It’s that simple.”