Association president optimistic real estate will flourish in 2009

It’s Winnipeg’s time to shine, according to 2009 WinnipegREALTORS® president Deborah Goodfellow.

“We’re that ember in the fire that can send a spark across the world,” she said.

Goodfellow’s optimism centres around recent glowing economic forecasts for the city and Manitoba in relation to the rest of Canada. 

“There’s a lot of good things happening,” Goodfellow added.

She  mentioned the Canadian Museum for Human Rights as an example of a project that will ignite Winnipeg’s economy, creating other investment opportunities and spin-offs. 

In this charged environment, there is no reason to feel pessimistic, commented Goodfellow.  

She said there are indications that Winnipeggers are ignoring the gloom and doom contained in media reports. 

“When I went to the St. Vital Centre last week it was like Christmas,” she said. “The mall was filled with people and I had difficulty finding a parking spot.”

What is true for retail malls is also true for the real estate market, according to Goodfellow.

“The real estate market woke up in January,” she said. “People are feeling confident again. 

“All of a sudden the phones are ringing off the hook in our office. Our office has almost double the business we did in January last year,” added Goodfellow, who is partner with her husband Bob in the company Goodfellow and Goodfellow Real Estate Ltd.

“I’m a REALTOR® working down in the trenches and I know there’s a lot of activity and a lot of buzz.”

Goodfellow said low mortgage rates are putting more buying power into home buyers’ hands. “You’re getting a lot for your money. And, people can lock into the low rates for a long time.”

Goodfellow said WinnipegREALTORS® figures show the first two weeks of January’s real estate market witnessed a turnaround from December’s slight  drop-off in sales. Even though sales dropped off slightly in December when compared to the same month in 2007, she said a new record year for dollar volume sales was still established. The final dollar volume total for 2008 hit $2.4 billion outperforming 2007 by nine per cent and it was the second consecutive year to record over $2 billion in sales.

“I tend not to listen to reports from California or Edmonton about dramatic declines in the real estate market,” Goodfellow said. “That’s not our market.” 

“I’ve been telling clients since October that we are an anomaly in Canadian real estate — we never experience the extreme peaks and valleys of other markets,” she added.

“If we’re off this year, it will be modest. At this point, we’re not expecting any significant change from 2008. Over time, you’re not going to have all the competitive and multiple offers that were common early in 2008. Not that prices are expected to fall, we’ll just have more inventory available to consumers.”

In 2008, the average residential-detached home price climbed 13 per cent to $206,213. Goodfellow said this year the average price is expected to increase by a more modest percentage.

A recent media report cited a Royal LePage Real Estate Services survey which said three Winnipeg neighbourhoods had experienced price declines during the fourth quarter of  2008 when compared to the same quarter in 2007, claiming that was an example of the global economic recession hitting Winnipeg. Yet, five other neighbourhoods cited experienced price increases, and the examples used were only for some  housing types. Actually, during the same period, the overall market experienced price increases.

The same national survey said Winnipeg is “insulated to a certain degree” from the global downturn affecting other Canadian markets “by its strong regional economy.”

“There are some Winnipeg neighbourhoods witnessing increasing home values over other neighbourhoods,” said Goodfellow. “But there are only small differences between neighbourhoods, although I won’t say any areas will experience problems this year. There will always be neighbourhoods not adversely affected — River Heights will always sell well. 

“It’s not that we are putting our head in the sand and becoming self-serving, as every economic report confirms we’re doing well. 

“As a fellow from Toronto said, we are an island unto ourself.”

She said when people make a home purchase in the affordable and stable Winnipeg real estate market, “it’s a brick and mortar type of investment that isn’t going to evaporate over time.”

Goodfellow said WinnipegREALTORS® will continue to closely monitor the housing market and report trends to the public as they occur.