Winnipeggers have seen a big jump in their net worth in the last four years, and they can thank the roof over their heads for a good chunk of the gain, according to a new study released Thursday.
Pitney Bowes Software examined the change in household net worth of residents in Canada's top 17 cities between December 2008 and June 2012 and found Winnipeg enjoyed the fifth-biggest growth in that period.
It said household net worth here grew an average of 23.5 per cent, or $76,122, to $399,369 from $323,247 in 2008.
The only cities with a higher growth rate were: Quebec City (65.2 per cent), Windsor, Ont. (38.5 per cent), St. Catharines-Niagara, Ont. (31.7 per cent) and London, Ont. (27.6 per cent).
The study looked at growth in the two key types of assets -- non-financial assets (primary residence) and financial assets (savings, equity holdings and retirement funds, excluding pensions).
It said Winnipeggers saw the second-biggest increase in the value of their primary residence during the study period, at 38.2 per cent. It said the average home value in the city jumped from $263,502 in 2008 to $364,262 in 2012, a dollar gain of $100,760.
It said Winnipeg was one of only four cities -- Quebec City, Ottawa-Gatineau and Toronto were the others -- to see a house-value gain of more than $100,000. Quebec City was the only one with a bigger percentage gain than Winnipeg, at 54.1 per cent.
Pitney Bowes' estimates for average house values in Winnipeg had one local housing-market official scratching his head.
Peter Squire, residential market analyst for the Winnipeg Realtors Association, said Pitney Bowes' numbers are substantially higher than the WRA's average-selling-price figures for 2008 and 2012.
The association pegged the average selling price for a single detached home at $206,213 in 2008 and $269,949 in 2012, for an increase of 30.1 per cent.
"They obviously used different criteria... " Squire said, and without knowing what those criteria were, it's difficult to comment on the accuracy of the numbers.
"But I do know we had one of the strongest increases of any major market (in recent years)," he added. "So that (statement) is probably correct."
The Pitney Bowes study found the average value of Winnipeggers' financial assets increased at less than half the pace of the average value of their homes. It grew 17.5 per cent to $223,807 from $190,422, good for 10th among the 17 cities surveyed.
Their average total liabilities increased 29.2 per cent to $92,640 from $71,697. That was the third-highest percentage gain among the cities surveyed.
Tom Exter, chief demographer for Pitney Bowes Software, said although Winnipeggers have enjoyed bigger-than-average gains in property values, that's no reason to become complacent.
Exter said property values are subject to the whims of the market and can decline during tough economic times, as some Canadians discovered during the most recent global recession. That's why it's important for people to grow their savings and other financial assets, he said.
A picture of wealth across Canada
Change in average net worth (wealth) for largest Canadian metropolitan areas -- 2008 to 2012:
|Metro area||Net worth 2008||Net worth 2012||Change ($)||Change (%)|
-- source: Pitney Bowes Software, Canada Wealth data product, 2008 and 2012