The Winnipeg real estate market has been undergoing changes, increasingly favouring buyers. To better understand this recent shift and how exactly a buyer benefits from it, we turned to the expertise of Carl Seier, a local realtor with more than 21 years of experience.
1. As of September, 2015, the average price of a home in Winnipeg has been slightly under the $275,000 threshold. How would you describe the real estate market in Winnipeg at the moment?
I would call it a balanced market. There are still plenty of buyers, but there is certainly more inventory to choose from than in previous years. This is great for buyers as they don’t have to get into the bidding wars that they were faced with a few years ago. They can also take their time in their home search, ensuring they make informed decisions. Buyers also have the ability to put in conditions that protect them that weren’t necessarily available a few years back, when they were competing against several other offers for the same home.
2. How has the market changed over the past few years, and how is it affecting homebuyers and sellers?
The current status quo has been a bit of a wake-up call for sellers. They need to really do their due diligence now in choosing a realtor. It is no longer a given that every home sells. Expired homes, or homes that have failed to sell when listed, have increased by 340% in the last five years. Just merely putting up a for sale sign and placing it on the MLS is no longer sufficient. If you are competing with 30 other homes for sale in your neighbourhood, and you are the only home with a strong online presence, it really makes a difference. Sellers also need to change their expectations—bidding wars are very few and far between, with many sellers still thinking their homes will sell for a great deal over asking price like it was common a few years ago.
3. Do you have any advice for a first-time home buyer in Winnipeg?
Yes, choose an agent that has a comprehensive knowledge of both the mechanics and structure of a home as our soil conditions in southern Manitoba can lead to some pretty serious structural issues!
Also, take your time. Don’t be in a rush. Homes are like buses – there is always another one around the corner. Educate yourself on the marketplace first. One of the best ways to do this is to go see a lot of homes before you make a decision. It doesn’t matter if you have to see 10 or 50 homes, you will know when you have found the right one. Your agent is not there to “sell” you a home, he is there to provide you with as much information as possible so that you feel confident in making a decision.
When you have found the right one and you want to put in an offer, ensure you write an offer with conditions to protect you. Make it subject to finance and to you receiving a satisfactory home inspection. Conditions are there to protect you. Remember, this is a huge investment, so make sure you take your time and do your due diligence!
4. According to Numbeo’s 2015 Mid-Year Quality of Life Index, Winnipeg has surpassed Vancouver in terms of quality of life. How would you explain this ranking?
I have been to Vancouver quite a bit. I love it; however, I still prefer living in Winnipeg. The cost of living here, specifically our real estate prices, makes it much more affordable. The traffic is not nearly as congested. A twenty-minute drive home from work is pretty special when you know you get to spend that much extra time with your loved ones. Also, the sunlight! Yes, it gets cold, but we get a ton of sunlight. I have spent some time in Vancouver where for days on end the sun is nowhere to be seen. For someone that is used to a lot of sunlight, it can really take its toll on your mental well-being.
Most importantly, and this probably isn’t taken into account in Numbeo’s index, is the vibe of Winnipeg. This is really hard to explain unless you live here. The best way to explain it is that we have kind of a small town feel with all the conveniences and choices of a big city. People who live here are passionate about it. Best example of this is to go to a Jets game. It’s an atmosphere like you won’t get in any city that I have seen. We have such pride and passion!
5. What are the most sought-after neighbourhoods in the region and what makes them desirable?
One thing I can almost guarantee is that if you ask any Winnipegger what the best neighborhood is, they will most likely tell you it’s the area they live in. For upper middle income families, River Heights/Crescentwood has always been a popular choice. The homes are older (many of them turn of the century) and the streets are lined with these beautiful, huge elm trees.
An area that seems to be popular with middle income families is Transcona. An area that has a very unique vibe of its own. Many people consider it a town within our city. My advice when I deal with clients moving into Winnipeg is that before they even begin to look at homes, take the time to investigate each neighborhood and see which one is the best fit for them.
On a positive note, we have seen some growth and moderate demand for multifamily residential homes in Downtown Winnipeg, primarily condos. Hopefully this trend will continue to grow. Our downtown has been somewhat maligned in the past. We need young professionals to continue to live and work downtown, and we need our civic government to do everything in its power to encourage and facilitate this trend.
6. A team of NASA scientists has recently named a patch of rocks on Mars, Winnipeg. How cold is it really?
Winnipeg is really cold, but the people are warm. I mean that! We have one of the friendliest, tightest communities I have ever experienced. I do have to say this though. I get to Toronto periodically to visit my daughter. When someone asks about cold, the common joke is for a Winnipeger to say, ”Yes, but it’s a dry cold!”
Well, I have learned that this is more than just a joke as when it gets cold in Toronto, I am freezing. It’s such a damp cold and you can’t really dress for that. It sinks right into your bones. We make the best of our winters. For anybody who hasn’t been here, come in the winter. There is a lot to do: frozen river trails to skate on that go forever; pop up restaurants that go up on the river; and the Festival Du Voyageur, which should be on everyone’s bucket list.
7. Are there any other insights that you would like to share?
I have heard on several occasions recently that the Winnipeg real estate market is slow, or even recessed. I have heard that from colleagues within the Winnipeg real estate industry, and also from the general public. This simply isn’t true. I think if you have been working in the industry for eight or less years, it may seem that way. Many agents have only known one market. One where the home gets listed, and on offer date it sells; often with multiple offers. Anything less than that means the market is slow. Realtors who have been in the industry for 20+ years know that we would have been overjoyed to have a market like this back in 1995. Our market is very healthy right now!
About Carl Seier
When he is not busy selling homes as a representative for Realty Executives First Choice, Carl likes to spend his time cycling and running. He is also a proud supporter of MyTeam Triumph Manitoba, an organization that helps people with disabilities participate in endurance races.