Condominium sales in Winnipeg are on pace for a record-setting year in 2021.
With 838 units sold in the city as of Apr. 29, there’s been a 72 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2019 — a strong year for sales — and a 115 per cent jump compared to 2020, when the pandemic temporarily slowed the market, data from the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board shows.
Peter Squire, the board’s vice president of external relations and market intelligence, said the first four months of 2021 continued the momentum of 2020, and a busy April signalled an equally busy spring market.
A key reason for the busy period, Squire said, comes from the market in the city for detached housing, which continues to set monthly records for both total sales and dollar volume. After the pandemic slowdown last spring, several consecutive months of record-setting sales followed; with demand so high, the supply of available listings never truly had a chance to keep up.
The past two months, listings have rebounded slightly, but the conditions of a seller’s market still prevail, marked by more competition and higher average sales prices. As of March 31, the average price for detached homes was $370,027, up 16 per cent over the same stretch in 2020, with over half of homes sold above listing, per the real estate board.
That’s helped contribute to a surge in demand for condos, which present an attractive alternative to first-time buyers weary of bidding wars and overpaying. Only 14 per cent of units sold in March were bought above list price. The average sale price for condos was $241,461 by the end of March, a comparatively small five per cent increase over 2020.
Condo sales activity has been most active in the $150,000-$199,999 range, and next most in the $200,000 to $249,999 range, price points which historically suggest first-time buyers.
"(Condos) offer an affordable alternative to single-family homes, especially for first-time buyers who are having difficulty purchasing a single-family home this year, given many multiple offer situations and therefore well-above list price sales in a number of instances," said Squire.
That situation played out recently for realtor Alison O’Toole, of Century 21 Bachman and Associates. A couple of first-time buyers were outbid repeatedly on single-family housing, and dismayed by the potential of being outbid again, turned to the condo market. They bought a two-bedroom, one bathroom unit on Alverstone Street in the West End for $144,000, a decision that O’Toole said made a great deal of sense for them.
O’Toole said that from her perspective, the condo market, not just the housing market, is attractive right now. In the past month, four units she had listed were sold, including some which were on the market for a while. To her, that’s an indication that demand is strong.
The boost to the condo market, she agreed with Squire, is echoing what’s going on with detached housing. "I think it trickled down," she said.
Another element at play is homeowners who’d long considered downsizing to condos are now able to sell their homes for top dollar. One family friend has bumped up their plans to move because the market has been too strong to resist. To many buyers, condos seem to be a cost-friendly alternative to paying high prices on a house with lots of potential maintenance or upgrade costs.
"I’m finding people want turnkey," O’Toole said, citing increasing costs for building materials and trades work.
In April, 259 condos were sold — a huge leap over 71 in 2020 and 154 in 2019. And O’Toole expects the interest to carry over in the coming months.
"People are always going to want to move," she said. "It’s been very busy lately."
Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.