Report says housing market supported by strong foundation

A new report says Winnipeg continues to have one of the strongest housing markets in Canada as a result of low unemployment and population growth.

According to the RE/MAX Bricks and Mortar Report, Winnipeg’s real estate market has been noted for its stability over the last 30 years.

“Demand has been particularly strong during the past 10 years, and while the current recession did have a short-lived impact, Winnipeg still managed to record its second best year on record in 2008 at 11,854 units,” according to the report.

With continued momentum, the report predicts a new record for residential home sales may be set despite the global recession.

“Locally, a solid foundation remains in place and the future looks bright for Winnipeg.”

Statistics Canada recently released statistics that show Manitoba’s population has grown from 1,216,137 at the end of March to 1,221,964 by the end of June, an increase of 5,800 residents.

Manitoba’s population rose by 15,864 residents over a 12-month period with more than 13,000 arriving from more than 150 countries.

The report from Statistics Canada said the population growth in Manitoba from April to June 2009 was the province’s strongest since the current record-keeping system was introduced in 1971.

“In fact, the growth of Manitoba’s population since 1999 has been quite remarkable,” said Manitoba Competiveness, Training and Trade Minister Nancy Allan. “In the last 10 years, Manitoba’s population has increased by nearly 80,000. This growth was more than double the increase of the previous 10-year period.”

WinnipegREALTORS® president Deborah Goodfellow said the increased number of immigrants and people from other provinces coming to Manitoba means greater demand for housing.

According to the RE/MAX report, the steady influx of new home buyers has supported demand and prompted steady upward momentum in housing values.

The report said the “first-time buyer segment is currently firing on all cylinders, with rock-bottom interest rates and relative affordability the catalyst behind heightened demand.”

New immigrants and first-time home buyers are helping to revitalize inner-city suburbs.

The report said the growing number of families setting roots in Wolseley, the West and Fort Rouge has breathed new life into these neighbourhoods, especially over the past decade. These neighbourhoods had traditionally been predominately filled with renters, but this trend is being reversed and the areas are experiencing an upswing in homeownership.

“Starter homes across the board have seen significant appreciation,” according to the report, “as young purchasers take advantage of lower interest rates and reduced carrying costs.

“Buyers have been more aggressive in their purchasing patterns, with many offers clean and clear of conditions.”

As a result, “multiple offers continue to be a factor” in the under $250,000 market.

Goodfellow said home buyers are expressing confidence in the local real estate market since the province has been faring better economically than most provinces.

Nationally, the RE/MAX report indicated a rebound in home sales.

“The strength of the residential housing sector cross-country has taken many economists and housing analysts by surprise once again,” said Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president of RE/MAX of Western Canada.

“In terms of its impact on the resale market, by historical standards, this recession was one of the mildest. The resilience of bricks and mortar has been demonstrated time and again.

“While there may still be some challenges down the road,” he added, “the worst is definitely behind us in the housing industry.”