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This article was published 5/4/2011 (3821 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WINNIPEG'S housing market is off to one of the fastest starts in the country this year as immigrants and other first-time buyers scoop up homes and help drive up sales at a double-digit pace, according to a new RE/MAX report.
"First-time purchasers have been strong out of the gate in 2011... " the real estate firm said Tuesday in its 2011 First-Time Buyers Report.
Not only did first-time buyers help drive up unit sales for the first two months of the year at the third-fastest pace among the 19 Canadian cities surveyed, but they also drove up the average selling price at the fourth-fastest pace.
But even though Winnipeg's average selling price has increased by 42 per cent over the last five years, Winnipeg still remains one of the most affordable Canadian cities in which to buy a home. The report said it still boasts the fourth lowest average selling price and the fourth lowest monthly mortgage carrying costs.
Two recent arrivals from Israel -- Evgeni and Ludmila Glinberg -- have done their bit to keep the local market sizzling.
The couple recently purchased a new four-bedroom home in Bridgewater Forest to house their growing family, which includes two boys aged seven and 11.
Evgeni Glinberg said buying a home made sense for them because their monthly mortgage payment will be substantially less than the $1,000 in rent they're paying for a two-bedroom apartment in River Heights. "I think I don't want to spend my money on rent," he said. "I think it's better... to spend my money on our own home."
The Glinbergs' real estate agent, Evgeny Potashnik of RE/MAX Executives Real Estate, said most of the first-time buyers he's dealt with this year have been immigrants or young couples.
Potashnik said most of his first-time buyers are looking for homes in the $200,000 to $250,000 range. But some, like the Glinbergs, can pay more than $400,000, he said.
Cliff King, agent/broker with RE/MAX Executive Realty, said some inner-city neighbourhoods still have starter homes for less than $140,000. But most of the first-time buyers he's seen are looking in the $150,000 to $250,000 range, and in neighbourhoods like St. James, St. Vital, Transcona, Seven Oaks and Riverview.
He said their big obstacle -- and this has been the case for a number of years -- is a shortage of entry-level homes on the market. That's leading to multiple offers and selling prices well above asking. He cited one recent case where an East Kildonan bungalow sold for more than $50,000 above the asking price of $174,900.
RE/MAX said the surge in sales and selling prices is part of a trend that saw average selling prices increase in 70 per cent of cities surveyed, and unit sales rise in 30 per cent of them during the first two months of 2011.
The report said there is no indication that recent changes to federal mortgage rules, reducing the maximum amortization period for government-insured mortgages to 30 from 35 years, are driving first-time buyers out of the market. Instead, they seem to be opting for smaller houses or homes in less sought-after areas.
-- With files from Postmedia News