An environment emerging for strong home sales as the weather warms

by Todd Lewys

As is the case every year at this time, everyone is optimistic with spring on the horizon.

It’s also traditional for optimism to reign among REALTORS® as spring approaches, as warmer temperatures increase demand for their services, and homes need to not only be listed, but shown as well.

And while February 2015 sported solid sales numbers, February 2016 has been even better to date, according to WinnipegREALTORS® market analyst Peter Squire.

“In terms of MLS® activity, through three weeks this February, we’re ahead of last year,” he said. “In fact, there’s been a notable improvement. Sales of single-detached homes are up about 18 per cent, while condo sales are up significantly. If they continue on the pace they’ve been on through the first three weeks of February, there could well be a double-digit percentage increase in sales over the same month last year.”

A trio of Realtors reported that February has been a very active month thus far.

“From what I’ve been experiencing, the market is up big time,” said Realtor Phil Mosher. “I can only speak for myself, but I’ve been doing more business than usual. Right now, it seems that there are a lot of buyers out there.”

He added that he recently experienced something he hadn’t seen for quite some time.

 “I just sold a tidy, well-maintained bi-level for about $30,000 over list price. I had 10 offers on offer night, over 40 showings and more than 40 people came through the open house. The market now reminds me of the last quarter of 2008, after we’d been through the financial crisis. Like then, I think people have been conservative and a bit cocooned. Now, they’re coming out of their shell because they’ve come to terms with the market. I think there’s going to be a lot more buyers this spring.”

Realtor Amber van den Broek said there’s a different feel to the market these days: “There’s an energy about the market that you don’t normally see in February. I think the warmer weather has helped, as have continued low interest rates. The quality of homes is also good, and I think more of the homes are being properly priced. As a result, more homes are being scooped up.”

“The market has been strong in terms of inquiries, even on rural farms and properties — that’s remarkable for January and February,” added Realtor Dan Thiessen. “That being the case, I think it’s going to be a busy spring.”

Thiessen said he has a theory on why business is starting to pick up. “I think both buyers and sellers have come to a rationalization about where the market is at. For some time — perhaps 12 to 18 months — people weren’t sure if the market favoured buyers or sellers.

“I think there’s a good comfort level for everyone now that they’ve realized they’re operating in a balanced market. Buyers can take their time to make a better decision, and sellers know their home will sell if it’s priced and presented properly. If a home scores 10 out of 10, it will sell.”

Van den Broek agreed, saying that she has already seen signs that this spring will be much hotter than last.

“I actually competed on two properties last week (and) that’s quite unusual for this time of year,” she said. “Not only that, but condominiums have been showing much steadier. I recently sold one in seven days. That’s unusual, but good. I think people are becoming more comfortable with the (Manitoba) condo act. That’s been reflected in increased sales.”

Several other factors should also act as a catalyst for strong spring market activity, said Thiessen.

“Events like the Spring Parade of Homes (March 5 to 26) and Winnipeg Home & Garden Show (formerly Home Expressions, held April 1 to 3 at the RBC Convention Centre; co-presenting sponsors are WinnipegREALTORS® and the Manitoba Real Estate Association) will be happening along with the warm weather. I believe all those things will culminate to create an environment for strong spring sales driven by empty nesters and first-time buyers.”

In short, it’s a landscape that everyone should benefit from, concluded van den Broek.

“The market is nicely balanced with qualified buyers ready to buy and sellers who know their homes have to be properly priced and presented to sell. That should make for strong sales this spring.”