Housing Cools, but Still Warm

By McNeill, Murray | Winnipeg Free Press, January 9, 2013 | Go to article overview

Housing Cools, but Still Warm


McNeill, Murray, Winnipeg Free Press


Report says slower demand will end city's soaring price increases

While the days of double-digit house-price increases may be over, analysts are still expecting the Winnipeg market to hold its own.

A new report from Royal LePage is predicting a one per cent rise as demand weakens, while Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is expecting increases closer to four per cent.

Royal LePage regularly tracks house-price changes in Canada's major cities for three types of homes -- detached bungalows, standard two-storeys and standard condominiums -- and releases the results in its quarterly House Prices Survey report.

In its latest report released on Tuesday, the firm said after seeing the average selling price for some types of homes escalate by as much as 9.9 per cent in the past 12 months, Winnipeggers are looking at an overall price hike of only one per cent for 2013 as the demand for homes softens.

Winnipeg Realtors said the last time Winnipeggers saw that small of an increase in the average selling price of a single-family, detached home -- the only type of home it calculates average selling prices for -- was 1999.

And while WR's residential-market analyst won't be releasing his 2013 forecast until next Wednesday, Peter Squire said Tuesday his initial thought is the Royal LePage forecast is too conservative.

Squire noted Winnipeg has enjoyed 17 straight years of rising house prices, including double-digit gains in seven of the eight years between 2003 and 2010, a six per cent increase in 2011 and a five per cent hike in 2012.

"We've had a good run," he said, "and I'm certainly not ready to declare it over."

CMHC also has higher expectations. In its most recent forecast, it predicted a 3.9 per cent increase in the average selling price of an existing home in Winnipeg this year.

The local spokesman for Royal LePage -- Rick Preston, of Royal LePage Dynamic Real Estate Services -- admitted the firm's forecast is conservative. But it's based on the belief the demand for resale homes is going to soften in 2013, which would ease the upward pressure on prices.

Preston said strong demand, coupled with a chronic shortage of listings, helped to fuel the recent string of hefty price hikes. But with the influx of immigrants expected to slow this year, and with some first-time buyers still relegated to the sidelines because of last summer's tightening of mortgage lending rules, the demand for housing isn't expected to be as strong this year, he said. …

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