Housing prices vary dramatically across the country

by Peter Squire        

            At the end of each year, WinnipegREALTORS® reaches out to other real estate boards to determine what the annual average residential-detached price is for major housing markets across the country. The end result is an infographic illustrating the year end prices for these markets so people gain an appreciation and understanding of how prices can be dramatically different across the country. 2016 was a year of extremes, so it is not helpful to lump all of Canada’s markets together.  There is no national market. They are local and will continue to be.

            For example, Toronto picked up from where it left off in 2015 with a torrid pace of double-digit price increases caused by unabated demand with nowhere near enough supply to meet it. Their average residential-detached price was nearly $1.3 million. Vancouver was the other overheated market with demand overwhelming supply, and even with measures taken such as the 15 per cent foreign buyer tax, the end result was an average price close to $1.5 million.

            Winnipeg was the lowest of all major markets surveyed at just over $300,000, while Halifax and  St. John’s are a little higher. Regina is at $331,000, and Calgary, despite its challenges with a weak oil patch, still had prices of nearly $480,000. Montreal finished at just under $363,000. Like Winnipeg, there are big differences in where all the sales activity is occurring.

            In comparing residential-detached sales activity in Calgary’s market to Winnipeg’s a few years ago, there were next to no homes sold for under $300,000 in Calgary, while in Winnipeg approximately 60% had sold for under $300,000. It is probably not that much different today. Calgary’s current breakdown is not available, but Winnipeg still had 57% of all its residential-detached sell for under $300,000 in 2016.

            Another example is comparing property type sales in one market versus another. Vancouver  had only 103 or a 23 per cent higher number of residential-detached sales over Winnipeg in December.  It should not be that surprising that this far larger housing market had home sales totals much closer to Winnipeg’s than you would expect when you consider their prices are out of reach for many buyers! Where the major difference between the two housing markets jumps off the page is on condos, which are much more affordable in Vancouver compared to residential-detached properties. Vancouver had 915 sales versus Winnipeg’s 87. Similarly, Vancouver had 258 townhouse sales in comparison to 7 in Winnipeg. 

            These differences are what makes housing market analysis interesting and challenging at the same time, since you really have to understand and interpret the local forces at play without getting caught up in reading headlines that state Canada as a whole is in trouble.  You need to call your REALTOR® — a local expert — so he or she can explain in detail what is happening with respect to your property type in your price range and in the area or neighbourhood you are interested in living.

            As the Canadian Real Estate Association’s president Cliff Iverson stated in this week’s December and year end market release, “All real estate is local, and REALTORS® remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to in the future.”

            Not only are all markets local but they do not perform the same within those markets. Condo and townhouse sales in Winnipeg have far lesser market share than in Vancouver where these property types are often the only option for buyers to consider. Winnipeg remains one of the most affordable markets in the country for residential-detached homes, so those types of homes are still an option for most buyers. In 2016, residential-detached sales represented nearly 3 out of every 4 MLS® sales. Conversely, condos, which have seen their share increase in the last number of years, still only grab just under 13 per cent of total MLS® sales.

            Other MLS® property types combined are roughly equivalent to the condo market share.  They include townhouses, single attached, resort properties, vacant land, rural, mobile homes, duplexes and commercial. Of those property types, single-attached sales of 479 and vacant land  sales of 481 were runners-up to the two main property types of residential-detached and condominiums, and together they are just 7% of total MLS® market share in Winnipeg’s market.

            Irrespective of the residential-

detached property type’s dominant position in Winnipeg’s market, our local market offers plenty of other more affordable options buyers can choose from if they are unable to afford a home or want more room in their household budget for other

living expenses.