Winnipeg home buyers the envy of Canada

by Peter Squire

WinnipegREALTORS® likes to say Winnipeg is one of the most affordable housing markets in the country. Earlier this month, when the April MLS® market results were released, an infographic showed that 50 per cent of the single family and condominium listings available going into May are priced under $300,000, with 22 per cent listed under $200,000. You will be hard pressed to find any major city in Canada with this significant percentage of listings available at these lower price points.

More evidence backing up this contention came recently by way of National Bank’s first quarter Housing Affordability Monitor Report results. This report measures housing affordability for 10 major census metropolitan areas (CMAS) in Canada. It tracks the condo markets and other dwellings which are largely single-detached or single-family homes.

Two key metrics that the National Bank calculates are how many months a median-income household requires to save for a minimum down payment (CMHC insured mortgage), and what is the monthly mortgage payment on a median-priced home assuming a 25-year amortization period at a 5-year term. In addition to these metrics, the National Bank compares the monthly mortgage payment for the representative or median priced condo property to the average rent for a two-bedroom condo in the same market.

What is most revealing — as can be seen in both of the infographics below — is how well positioned Winnipeg is to current buyers, offering very attractive and affordable ownership options.

For houses, it takes on average 29 months to save for a down payment, only one month longer than what was recorded at the end of the fourth quarter in 2018. For condos, it takes only 20 months, where it was 19 months in the final quarter of 2018.

The amount of income required to buy the representative home of $324,784 is $59,212 , while for the representative condo priced at $223,461, the income required is $40,740. Neither have changed significantly over 2018. Essentially, Winnipeg saw its affordability unchanged in the first quarter of 2019.

Vancouver continues to be a real outlier compared to the rest of the cities monitored — it takes 416 months, or nearly 35 years, to save up for a down payment for the representative home of $1,296,220. Even in Toronto, you can do it in only 101 months, or 8.5 years. Based on this information, you can easily appreciate why condominiums have become essential in the composition of the Vancouver real estate market, requiring only 62 months, or around  5 years, to save up for a down payment.

Over and above the fact Winnipeg is the most affordable of the 10 cities included, other than Quebec City, what also stands out is the buying compared to renting chart for condominiums. There is a clear advantage to buying a condo in Winnipeg, rather than renting, with the spread being about $250 per month. A number of other cities show it is better to buy a condo than rent, so it’s easy to see why forecasters can be quite bullish on the condo market in a number of cities throughout Canada, especially when their rental market is undersupplied.

As of May 15, there are over 900 condos and 2,900 single family homes available for sale. In Winnipeg’s local real estate market, single family homes dominate the market with total MLS® market share consistently over 70 per cent. This is owed to far more affordably priced single family homes compared to other Canadian cities. Condominiums make up only 14 per cent of MLS® sales.

Winnipeg buyers remain in the enviable position of being able to take advantage of the healthiest supply of affordably priced options in Canada, in both single-family homes and condominiums.

Peter Squire is WinnipegREALTORS® Vice-President, External Relations & Market Intelligence.