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Real estate market becoming balanced

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Winnipeg house prices will rise at a moderate pace -- anywhere from one to five per cent -- this year, a new report from Re/Max Real Estate Services states.

In its inaugural Spring Market Trends Report released Tuesday, the real estate company said after a dozen years as a seller's market, where demand outstripped supply in many neighbourhoods, the Winnipeg market is becoming more balanced.

The number of listings is up and sales are down, which is easing the upward pressure on selling prices.

The number of listings is up and sales are down, which is easing the upward pressure on selling prices

The report said the average residential selling price in the first quarter was up 4.7 per cent from a year earlier -- $269,578 compared with $257,481. But it expects price growth to slow as the year progresses, especially for homes priced at more than half a million dollars.

Homes in that price range are expected to see a price increase of only one to two per cent this year because of weaker demand, said Cliff King, of Re/Max Executives Realty in Winnipeg. Homes priced at less than $400,000 are projected to see gains of between four and five per cent, he added.

King noted there were only 15 houses that sold for more than $500,000 in February, "which is really low." He said it may be because a lot of the people who can afford higher-end homes have already made their purchases.

The Re/Max report said some of the most active buyers in the market this year have been immigrants, locals who have accumulated significant savings, and people who have benefited from Winnipeg's robust agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

It said the province's controversial land-transfer tax continues to be a burden for buyers, especially first-time buyers.

The Bank of Montreal also released its 2014 Housing Confidence Report on Tuesday. It showed 38 per cent of Manitoba/Saskatchewan homeowners and 44 per cent of Canadian homeowners surveyed said they plan to buy a property in the next five years.

Forty-seven per cent of the Prairie respondents said they expect to purchase a house, 18 per cent said they're more likely to buy a condominium, and nine per cent said they're hoping to acquire a recreational property.

Twelve per cent of the Prairie respondents also said they had to dip into their savings in the past year, and 61 per cent said they had to reduce their spending in order to make their monthly mortgage payments.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 16, 2014 B6

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