Buyers needn’t be intimidated by market, while sellers have to be prepared to compete

by Todd Lewys

As recently as three years ago, only one word was required to describe the spring real estate market — hot.

Fast forward to spring 2015, and the city’s real estate market is an entirely different animal. Whereas multiple offers were once the norm, they still happen, but only if the right conditions present themselves, such as in a popular neighbourhood and an attractively priced and well-maintained home.

The reason for the significant reduction in bidding wars is simple, said WinnipegREALTORS® market analyst Peter Squire.

“In March, there were over 3,000 single-family detached and condominium listings on the market,” he said. “That being the case, the real estate market remains balanced. There are more homes to choose from, which has created more competition. 

“In most cases, homes are selling for below, or at list price,” Squire added.

Statistics from March bear out Squire’s comments. In the case of single-detached family homes, 70 per cent on the market sold for below list price, nine per cent sold at list and 21 per cent sold over list price.

Meanwhile, condominium sales were eerily similar, with 71 per cent of units selling below list price, 14 per cent at list, and 15 per cent above list.

What does all this mean? 

Well, it means that while there will be some bidding wars in popular areas and in certain market segments — such as in the $200,000 to $300,000 price range — buyers are still in the driver’s seat.

REALTOR® Darren Stirling said there’s no need for prospective home buyers to delay making a home purchase in an effort to avoid bidding wars.

“There’s lots of inventory, so while there may be some cases where homes get multiple offers, it’s still possible to get a good, solid home for around list price. If you find a home you like, chances are good you’ll be able to get it for a price you can afford.”

Fellow REALTOR® Geoff Archambault said that, although some market segments, particularly the one between $200,000 and $300,000, are quite active, that doesn’t mean buyers will need to pay well over list price to acquire a home.

“That market segment is still very active,” he said. “For example, I have one new listing in a good area, and I already have showings booked. 

“If a home is in the right area, and is priced right, it’s going to sell. Even if you have multiple offers, it doesn’t necessarily mean a home will sell for over list price. 

“I had a home that went to multiple offers in January. Even with seven offers, it went for list. Multiple offers or not, it’s still possible to find a home that you can afford.”

He said that vendors also have to be educated about the realities of today’s balanced market.

“I’m finding that we’re spending more time educating vendors about how today’s market is working versus how it was working a few years ago,” he said. “Unlike then, there won’t be bidding wars or tons of offers, and they’re actually going to have to work to sell their home. 

“That means preparing more by doing things like minor renovations and painting. There’s more competition now, so they have to prepare, and rely on the advice we give them,” he added.

REALTORS® Laura and Marnie Ross agreed, saying that if a home is updated and priced properly, it will sell. The caveat is that owners will have to put in a little elbow grease to pave the way for a relatively quick sale.

“Good homes stand a chance of getting multiple offers and going for a good price,” they said. “Preparing a home makes a huge difference. As REALTORS®, we’ve done this before many times, so vendors need to listen to us, because we know how to present homes. 

“If it takes a month to get a home ready, then that’s what you need to do. It’s no guarantee that your home will sell right away or for way over list, but the home will sell, possibly for a tidy profit.”

At the same time, buyers shouldn’t be dissuaded from making a purchase in the heat of an active spring market, they added.

“There’s more opportunity than ever to get into a good home for a good price with or without competition,” said Laura and Marnie. “Now is a great time to buy a home.”