Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Luxury digs selling strong in city

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DON'T let the results of a Re/Max first-quarter survey fool you -- Winnipeggers haven't lost their appetite for luxury homes.

"That was just a blip on the radar screen," broker Cliff King of Re/Max Executives Realty in Winnipeg said of the Q1 survey results released Wednesday.

They showed a 15 per cent drop in the sale of luxury homes -- properties priced at $500,000 or more -- during the first three months this year (58 versus 68 in the 2011 first quarter).

But King maintains the appetite for higher-end homes in Winnipeg is stronger than it's ever been. To back up his claim, he trotted out the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) luxury-home sales numbers for 2011 and the first 41/2 months of this year.

They showed a 24 per cent increase in sales last year -- 359 versus 290. This year, sales are running one unit ahead of last year's pace for the same period -- 123 versus 122.

"And I would bet my bottom dollar... that by the end of the year, we'll see a substantial increase (over last year)," King said, adding he's anticipating a 10 per cent improvement.

The Re/Max report said in most major Canadian cities, there's a healthy appetite now for higher-end homes. It said 13 of the 16 cities it surveyed showed an increase in luxury-home sales.

"Given volatility in other areas, housing has emerged as a blue-chip asset among the country's most affluent individuals," said Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president for Re/Max of Western Canada.

"The capital-gains status ups the appeal, particularly as we see ongoing fluctuations in stock and uncertainty in Europe. All the variables have come together to support an upper-end market firing on all cylinders."

The good news for Winnipeg buyers is there's a pretty good selection.

King said there were 158 detached homes in Winnipeg on Wednesday priced at $500,000 or more. That includes 28 at more than a million bucks.

"When I saw it (28), I was a little surprised," he admitted. "I would have guessed 10 or a dozen maybe."

King said he doesn't know if that's the most ever listed at one time in Winnipeg, but it must be close to a record.

A spokesman for the WinnipegRealtors Association, which operates the local MLS, said there were another five detached homes for sale in bedroom communities just outside the city. There are also $4-million-plus condominiums for sale in Winnipeg -- three on Wellington Crescent, one on Waterfront Drive.

King said homes priced between $500,000 and $600,000 are still the most in-demand luxury homes in the city. But once you get over a $1 million, demand really drops off.

"Anything at over $1 million is going to take longer to sell. There just aren't that many people... in Winnipeg who want to spend that kind of money on a house," he said.

A couple of extreme examples are two of the most expensive homes on the market.

One is a south Tuxedo showstopper at $5.9 million. It's the highest-priced home ever listed in Winnipeg, hitting the market two years ago at $7.45 million. Despite the big drop in price, it still hasn't moved.

"Who in Winnipeg is going to buy a $6-million home? That could take five or six years to sell," King said.

The second example is a mansion on Wellington Crescent, on the market about four years. It started at $3.3 million and is now at $2.8 million.

The Re/Max report said the most expensive detached home to sell during the first quarter was a house on Wellington Crescent for $975,500. And the most expensive condo to change hands was also on Wellington at $525,000.

Re/Max noted both of properties attracted multiple offers, which it said is a further indication of a healthy appetite for luxury homes.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

High-end listings

Got an urge to buy a luxury home? Here's a taste of what's on the menu in Winnipeg:

-- 158 properties priced at $500,000 or more, which is Re/Max's definition of a luxury home in the Winnipeg market.

-- 28 detached homes priced at $1 million or more, including one at $5.9 million, one at $4.6 million, one at $2.8 million, one at $2.69 million, one at $2.6 million, eight at between $1.5 million and $2 million and 15 at between $1 million and $1.99 million

And if you're wondering where they're located, there are:

-- eight in Tuxedo

-- four each in River Heights, Headingley, St. Vital and Pritchard Farms

-- three in Waverley West

-- one in Fort Garry

-- Source: Cliff King, Re/Max Executives Realty

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 17, 2012 B7

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