Real estate market sales start strong but a slowdown in April is expected

By Peter Squire

With real estate deemed essential by the Government of Manitoba, REALTORS® are navigating COVID-19 to safely meet the needs of buyers and sellers. Protecting the health and safety of all Manitobans is critical, and real estate professionals are conducting business — to assist those who find themselves in a situation where they have sold their house and need to find another — in new ways . . .

REALTORS® are doing their best to adapt and adopt new methods of showing homes (e.g. virtual tours, remote conferencing) to follow and abide by public health directives. If it is necessary that a buyer needs to physically view a home, both the REALTOR®, and client can sign a disclosure form acknowledging that they have not travelled in the last 14 days,  do not exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, and have not been in contact with anyone that has tested positive. Of course, when entering the home, social distancing must be adhered to, along with cleaning protocols.

There is no doubt social distancing is our current circumstance, and with many Manitobans now out of work, listing and sales activity will drop as we head into what is usually the busiest and most active quarter of the year. Last year for the first time in Winnipeg REALTORS® history, May set an all-time monthly sales record with over 1,700 MLS® sales. This year’s market, while starting off well, is going to be different.

March finished off a strong first quarter of sales activity with 1,089 sales, an 8 % increase over March 2019. First quarter MLS® sales rose 12% over the same period in 2019.  

MLS® new listings entered on the market in March fell 2% in comparison to March 2019, but remained up nearly 6% for the first three months. Active listings or available listings of 4,723 at the end of March remain above previous years, with a 12% jump over the same time last year and the same percentage rise over the 5-year average.

“Our first quarter has been consistently solid every month,” said Catherine Schellenberg, president of WinnipegREALTORS®. “Buyers have been taking advantage of affordable prices with a wide choice and healthy supply of listings to choose from. This first quarter is one of the best starts on record for WinnipegREALTORS® but we know unprecedented times are upon us with public health being the highest priority now for Manitobans and Canadians.”

March sales activity exemplifies the vast range of sold prices within WinnipegREALTORS® market region. The highest single family sales price was for a newly built 3,335 sq. ft. luxury home in the
Waverley West MLS® area of southwest Winnipeg. It sold for $1,146,872. Sharply contrasting this sale is the lowest priced home which sold in Mariapolis in the RM of Lorne in south central Manitoba. This 1¾ storey 1920-built home sold for $13,000.

Speaking of single-family home sales — which performed exceptionally well in March with sales and a 15% increase over March 2019 — the most active price ranges were the $250,000 to $299,999, and $300,000 to $349,999. They represented 35% of total sales. Adding 23% more in sales activity were the $200,000 to $249,999, and $350,000 to $349,999 price ranges.

Condominium sales in March were only 6 short of the 139 units sold in March 2019. The most active price range for condominiums at 29% of total sales is from $150,000 to $199,999. The next most active at 20% is the $200,000 to $249,999 price range. The highest priced condo to sell in March was for $750,000 — a bungalow-style condominium at nearly 2,000 sq. ft. located in Tuxedo.

Other MLS® property types to distinguish themselves for heightened sales activity in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2019 are single-attached, vacant land, vacant land with buildings, farm, commercial and mobile homes. Of these property types, only vacant land and vacant land with
buildings showed gains in March, owing in part to fast developing changes in our market.

“Going into the spring market, which is normally the busiest time of our annual market cycles, will
be different in 2020,” said Schellenberg. “We have already noticed a slow-down in listing and sales
activity the last week of March and this is totally understandable given everyone’s desire and the
critical need to flatten the curve on COVID-19.”

Schellenberg added, “Our REALTOR® members are adjusting to new ways of transacting real estate in the present environment where Manitoba is in a state of emergency.”

“You need to have a conversation with your REALTOR® on how to follow new protocols and best practices to ensure everyone stays safe” said Marina R. James, CEO of WinnipegREALTORS®. “Real estate services have been declared a critical service under a recent Public Health Order but we clearly recognize it is not business as usual.”

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