Rags-to-riches tales played out in best neighbourhoods

Good old-fashioned hard work is the key to unlocking fortune and the front door of a new luxury home, according to the 2007 Carriage Trade Luxury Properties Report recently released by Royal LePage Real Estate Services. 

According to the poll, conducted by Ipsos Reid of high-net-worth Canadians, almost half cite hard work as the main driver to attaining wealth, followed by the drive to succeed at 27 per cent and a higher education at 18 per cent. Only four per cent of respondents chalk their financial stability to being born into the right family, while a mere one per cent attribute it to plain old good luck.

“Luxury living is no longer the exclusive domain of a few,” said Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage Real Estate Services. “Buoyant economic conditions and confidence in the market going forward have ignited a growing passion for investing in luxury property among an increasing number of Canadian families. Consequently, homes in this market niche have been trading briskly, and this has put upward pressure on prices.”

The report said the luxury housing market in Winnipeg is backed by a strong economy and remained robust during the first three months of the year. All signs indicate that the market will continue to strengthen into 2007. 

Sales of homes priced from $500,000 and over rose sharply in Winnipeg during the first quarter. From January to March, the number of unit sales in the $500,000-plus price category increased by 38 per cent, year-over-year. 

The typical buyer in the Winnipeg’s luxury market is a professional couple in their 30s and 40s. High-end homeowners are typically executives, private business owners, lawyers or doctors. 

The most sought after areas for high-end homes include the established southwest neighbourhoods of Lindenwoods and Tuxedo, as well as Pritchard Farms.

Rags-to-riches stories are being played out in the kitchens of some of Canada’s best neighbourhoods. The poll results revealed that the majority of the high-net-worth individuals surveyed started from modest beginnings. Only three per cent of respondents reported they were raised in wealthy/affluent households, while 79 per cent of respondents came from lower-middle-class and middle-class upbringings. 

Four per cent of wealthy homeowners have risen out of poverty and now live in a home worth at least $500,000.

When it comes to the value of primary residences, 12 per cent of high net worth Canadians live in homes with price tags starting at $1 million, while 47 per cent of respondents live in properties valued from $600,000 to $999,000.

“Prosperous Canadians see real estate as an important element in their investment portfolios,” said Soper. “In fact, one-quarter of wealthy homeowners own two properties, and six per cent own three residences while two per cent own more than five properties.” 

Success seems to transcend sectors with luxury property owners citing a spectrum of occupations, including entrepreneurs (13 per cent), CEOs and senior executives (10 per cent), medicine (10 per cent), sales (seven per cent) and law (three per cent). 

The poll found that 32 per cent of high net worth homeowners have already retired and can now enjoy the fruits of their labour.