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February sales down 11%

Reused by permission of the Real Estate News

WINNIPEG – It was an off month for WinnipegREALTORS® as February sales of 683 declined 11% from the same month last year and 10% over the 10-year average for February.  Year-to-date sales of 1,250 are 5% off the pace set in 2017 when there were 1,327 sales. Year-to-date dollar volume worth $352 million in real estate transactions is also down 5% from the same period last year.

When comparing MLS® listings to last year, overall supply is not the issue as the inventory at the end of February of just under 3,400 is equivalent to 2017.  New listings coming on the market for residential-detached and condominium properties in February were not markedly different either from February 2017.

Simply put, buyers were less active than last year.  Sales fell short in the two main property types – residential-detached and condominiums. While condominium sales decreased 16%, the 102 sales transacted are above the 10-year average by 8%. Residential-detached sales, on the other hand, were below the 10-year average by 10% and 11% in comparison to February 2017.

There is no one reason why residential-detached sales saw a drop off in activity.  One MLS® area in particular was down markedly from 2017 because of a lack of listings, where other MLS® areas experienced a noticeable drop off in sales compared to available listings.

As for the distribution of sales throughout the entire residential-detached price range spectrum, the tilt in percentage of sales activity favoured the higher price ranges above $300,000. This was even more accentuated for condominium sales activity in higher price ranges.  The usually dominant $150,000 to $199,999 price range dropped in total sales percentage from 36% in 2017 to 19% this year.

“A disappointing sales result but still too early in year to draw any firm conclusions,” said WinnipegREALTORS® president Chris Dudeck. “Based on an increase in higher end price range sales activity in relation to lower price ranges compared to last February the new stress test on insured mortgages (came into effect on January 1, 2018)  does not appear to be a leading cause of slower sales activity.”

It is also worth noting, residential-detached properties which did sell in February, actually sold faster in 2018 than 2017. The average days to sell was 32 days, 2 days quicker than February 2017, while average days to sell a condo was the same as February 2017 at 45 days.

One thing that is clear, with tougher qualifying requirements for both insured and uninsured mortgages this year, and higher mortgage rates, buyers should be proactive in getting pre-approvals so that when they are ready to purchase a home they are qualified to buy.

This week the Bank of Canada held its benchmark interest rate at 1.25 per cent, though one more hike is expected this year. Lingering trade issues including concerns over NAFTA may well push back another rate hike until later in 2018. The Bank of Canada is also assessing the housing market as part of their rate-tightening plan given softer sales activity this year.

“All markets are local and activity within the various property types behaves differently depending on the price range and area,” said Marina R. James, CEO of WinnipegREALTORS®.  “You are always best advised to contact a professional REALTOR® to determine a suitable course of action for your own needs.”


Get a jump on the 2018 housing market!

Reused by permission of the Real Estate News

Get a jump on housing market to find a hidden gem
Jan 19, 2018

by Todd Lewys

It’s a saying most everyone is familiar with: strike while the iron’s hot.

Now is the time to strike if you’re looking for a new home, said 2018 WinnipegREALTORS® president Chris Dudeck.

“With over 3,000 MLS® listings (3,037, to be exact), there’s definitely an opportunity for home buyers,” he said. “There’s a real opportunity to get a jump on the market and find a hidden gem.”

But that window of opportunity is a relatively short one, the asssociation president added.

“The spring real estate market usually starts to heat up around mid- to late-February, so now is the time to start looking.”

Why is that?

“By starting early, you’ll deal with way less competition,” said Dudeck. “With a lesser number of buyers looking, you can go through homes without feeling pressured, and perhaps find the home that’s right for you at a great price.”

It’s important to note that the key to finding the right home lies in enlisting the services of a knowledgeable REALTOR®.

“Sometimes buyers don’t know what they don’t know (and) that’s why it’s so important to find a Realtor who will guide you through the market.

A Realtor can not only help you explore the opportunities that are out there, but help you identify the one that suits you best,” added Dudeck.

Make no mistake about it, there are bona fide opportunities out there in the housing market.

With selection at a high level, buyers can find the home that best suits their needs and budget, whether it be a condo, duplex, townhome, detached single-family home or even a mobile home.

Sales numbers through the first two weeks of January have been solid, noted Dudeck.

“They’re actually up about 10 per cent over last year, with new listings up by around 10 per cent, as well. There’s great value to be found in all kinds of properties.”

That’s why it’s important to make a move now if you’re serious about finding a home.

At the same time, it’s important to keep an open mind about where you want to buy.

“A lot of people get focused in on a particular area that they want to live in,” said Dudeck.

“While that’s understandable, I think it’s important for buyers to realize that there are good homes in all kinds of neighbourhoods across the city.”

Again, it’s critical to rely on a Realtor’s expertise in this instance.

“A Realtor will guide you to explore different neighbourhoods — ones that are nearby the one you want to live in, even ones a bit further out,” said Dudeck.

“You can’t afford to lose sight of the quality homes that exist in other areas.”

In other words, buyers, if they don’t mind buying a bit further out, can find a home that provides them with more bang for their buck in the form of more space, amenities and, in many cases, a smaller mortgage, which is important in the new era of the mortgage stress test.

At the same time, buyers, particularly first-time buyers, can also move up in the world.

“By getting into the marketplace, you’re no longer paying rent. Instead, you’re gaining equity and appreciation.

“And by purchasing a home, whether it be a detached single-family home, side-by-side, townhome or condo, you stand to capitalize on the market increase over the next five years or so,” added Dudeck.

What’s the bottom line here?

If you’re in the market for a home, take advantage of market conditions that are about as close to ideal as they’re going to get.

“There’s a bit of a window — about a month or so — before the real estate market starts to heat up,” emphasized Dudeck.

“If you’re looking for a home, find a good Realtor, and don’t be afraid to explore other neighbourhoods and different property types.

“As I said earlier, now is a great opportunity to get a jump on the market and find a hidden gem.”

Association past-president Blair Sonnichsen said that there are many affordable housing options available that Realtors are able to indicate to buyers.

In 2017, Sonnichsen said that, with the help of Realtors, it had “become apparent … that buyers were making adjustments within certain propery types to attain their dream of acquiring a place to call home.”


Stay warm and safe this winter






Space heaters are not a permanent solution for heating your home, but sometimes they are nice to use to add some warmth and comfort on cold winter days. Here are some tips to stay safe and avoid potential shock or fire:

  • Make sure the space heater is suitable for where you intend to use it.
  • Place the space heater where it won’t be near any flammable materials.
  • Check for a model with a tip-over switch that turns off the heater if it is knocked over.
  • NEVER USE AN EXTENSION CORD. Always plug your space heater directly into an outlet.
  • Never leave children unsupervised in rooms where a space heater is running.

For more safety information check our the December 2017 issue of Energy Matters from Manitoba Hydro


A repeat performance in November MLS® Sales Activity

Reused by permission of the Real Estate News

Read the full press release here:

Winnipeg – If you are going to duplicate a month’s sales activity, do it when it is a good one and that was the case in November.  MLS®sales of 878 units in November were one sale higher than November 2016 and 4% above the 10-year average for this month. Only once in 2015 did November sales edge over 900, so not a big difference in sales.

A solid performance in November and year-to-date sales of 12,890 ensures 2017 will be no worse than second highest on record. 2016 was the best year ever with over 13,600 sales.

Balanced market conditions still prevail overall with over 4 months of listings available if there were no new listings added on to the MLS® system.

MLS® area neighbourhoods such as Riverview, Crescentwood, River Heights, Wolseley, Southdale, Fort Garry, Linden Woods, Garden Grove and Harbourview South show depleted inventories in relation to residential-detached sales this year.

“Depending on the property type and area of the city or capital region you wish to live in, you need to be calling a REALTOR® to provide their knowledge and expertise on what your best course of action is based on current market conditions, especially due to financing,” said Marina R. James, CEO of WinnipegREALTORS®. “All real estate markets are local and vary within according to different market indicators.”

Commencing January 1, 2018, a new stress test comes into effect on Canadians making down payments of over 20 per cent and therefore not requiring mortgage insurance.  It applies to all federally regulated financial institutions and requires the applicant to qualify for mortgage payments based on the greater of either the Bank of Canada’s five-year benchmark rate or their contract mortgage rate plus two percentage points.

Backing up WinnipegREALTORS® claim that it has one of the most affordable major real estate markets in the country is the percentage of sales it has under $300,000.  In November 59% of residential-detached sales and 77% of condo sales were under $300,000. The busiest condominium price range at 26% of total sales was from $150,000 to $199,999.


Is Your Sump Pump Hose in the Right Place?

If water in the sump pump hose freezes, your sump pump can overheat and burn out. There are two ways of preventing this. Try them out to see which works for your property.

In the fall, once the weather drops below freezing, disconnect the flexible sump pump hose outside.

  1. If you don’t already have one, attach a 90 degree elbow to the discharge outlet, and place a splash pad under the discharge outlet, or
  2. Fasten a larger size flexible, perforated drain hose or pipe (4″ or 6″ diameter) of suitable length to the discharge outlet (e.g., a piece of weeping tile pipe)Remember! In spring, reattach the hose you normally use or leave the winter one in place if it drains the water properly in spring and summer.



What Buyers Want

What Buyers Want!
Christine Rae, CSPM

What buyers want

Even though there are oodles of TV shows illustrating what buyers expect today for their money, many sellers and real estate agents are reluctant to embrace the advice of knowledgeable staging professionals. Curb appeal starts on the internet today. According to the National Association of Realtors at least 88% of buyers use the internet to search for property and a whopping 94% of millennials! What that means folks is that you must have GREAT photographs, and have them professionally done to capturethe interest of buyers or they will move on before ever stepping foot in the door. The trend for move in ready, turn key property is driven by three demographics: women, millennials and baby boomers. Paying attention to these key features can make a huge difference in selling property and securing the equity.

Half of all property buyers are under 36 yrs. old. Meaning a new generation, the Millennials are shaping the future of real estate. They leapfrog the traditional “starter home” and jump right into the higher end market by choosing larger properties with higher prices. They believe in the power of a home as a financial investment just as much as older generations do.They are also putting every cent to the purchase price of property, &they don’t have extra cash to start making renovations. Retiring boomers are also looking for turnkey properties because they want to enjoy life more than retile bathrooms!

Buyers today are not as handy as people were in past generations. They don’t see a “fixer upper” as an opportunity, they see it as a money drain and time suck. In fact, seven out of ten buyers want turn-key, move in ready so much, that they are willing to pay more money for it!

Updated: Bathrooms, Kitchens, Fixture’s and Appliances
Buyers want well-designed, eat in kitchens with plenty of organized storage. Ideally a pantry rather than endless cupboards. If there are cupboards they prefer drawers’ vs shelves. For bathrooms, the “must have” look has clean lines, with a walk-in shower and as little grout as possible. They no longer thrill to see a jetted tub, they want free standing (easier to replace if they ever want to do an update. Easy care flooring and quartz counters in both locations.

Popcorn Ceilings!
They are everywhere, but no one likes them; while few people are prepared to do the work to remove it, it can play a role in the final selling price. If the property is over $500,000 the ceilings are best smooth.

Office Space, High Speed Connectivity
More than 13 million people work from home and all signs point to this trend increasing. Technology increasingly makes us more mobile and efficient young buyers often have the option of working at home. Even though laptops, tablets and phones make work life simpler, having a dedicated space is important as it helps keep you organized, focussed and concentrating on work while at home perhaps on a Skype call, planning a presentation or simply paying bills. Homes are rapidly becoming sanctuaries, so the office space should NOT be the first room you see upon entering the property…always reminding them of work.

Technology/connectivity doesn’t just mean high speed internet anymore. A good mobile signal, wireless router means access for entertainment, information, home security, nanny cam for baby and pets and of course banking.

Open plan, good flow and use of space.
Younger buyers are more attracted to an open plan, rather than a compartmentalized layout. This has a lot to do with how they entertain. Smart layout also means plenty of outlets and located where you use items like hairdryers, shavers.

Women make the majority of renovation decisions, less than 44% are interested in DIY. 50% of women say they want more green choices. 37% are more likely to pay attention to brands committed to environmental causes, 25% of all products in their shopping carts are environmentally friendly. Younger buyers are also environmentally conscious so energy efficiencies affect their life after purchase of property. These simple things can transfer buyer loyalty.

The 55-75 yr. old boomer female has seen her role change from homemaker to purchaser of security, convenience and luxury. 2017 is the year women control two thirds of all consumer wealth and they are beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in history. Estimates range between $12 to $40 TRLLION. Many boomer women will experience a double inheritance windfall from both parents and husband; they make 95% of all purchasing decisions for the household. Men state it makes life easier if the woman is happy. Women’s lives are fast and full. Most work outside the home so with jobs, commuting, running errands, chauffeuring kids, tracking everyone’s stuff it isn’t surprising that women want organized storage. Open plans are fabulous but typically rob storage space because few interior walls. Great, spacious and functional closets are a high priority.

Laundry Rooms:
Are becoming coveted spaces. Filled with cupboards for organization and Energy star rated appliances these rooms need counter space, utility sink and they don’t want to see the laundry when they come’s like coming home to a second job. Trouping down to the basement is a huge turn off so best locate in a closet near the bedrooms or off the kitchen is best.

Lots of natural light, well done skylights and expansive doors to bring the outdoors in. Reality TV shows have also shown how important having excellent storage spaces in the garage too. Dedicated spaces for tools, outdoor equipment and other odds/ends helps also leave room for cars! One in four people have so much stuff in the garage they can’t park a car.

Everyone agrees once you have heated floors you never go back. Bathrooms are a perfect place to start, hallways, kitchens are good seconds. The bottom line is this: when we talk trends, we are not talking most popular color; demographics are changing the way business in general is being done and real estate in particular. Not paying attention, working with stagers who are not “on trend” with what buyers want can seriously jeopardize the sale of property.


October sales fall back like daylight savings time

Reused by permission of the Real Estate News

WINNIPEG – October sales decreased 10% from October 2016 and were off 4% from the 10-year October average. The drop in sales activity was largely predominant in the residential-detached and condominium property types selling for under $300,000.

The sales decrease in part, was the result of being up against increased sales activity in early October 2016 because home buyers then wanted to maximize their buying power before the October 17th stress test came into effect on insured mortgages. The new qualification requirement meant applicants had to qualify for the five- year fixed term Bank of Canada rate of 4.64 per cent.

October sales of 1,023 pushed year-to-date sales over 12,000 – only the second time this has happened and just 1% off last year’s record-setting pace of over 12,100 sales. Year-to-date dollar volume is the highest it has ever been at nearly $3.5 billion, up over 3% from 2016. Based on slower sales and dollar volume activity in the last two months of the year dollar volume, will not reach the $4 billion benchmark level but another annual dollar volume record will be set.

“October sales results clearly showed how government intervention in to the real estate market has affected it”, said Blair Sonnichsen, president of WinnipegREALTORS®. “The first-time buyer market for residential-detached properties has been softer this year and conversely more affordable property types such as single attached and townhouses have performed better.”

Both single-attached and townhouse sales this year are well ahead of 2016 with percentage increases of 10% and 23% respectively. Residential-detached sales are down 2% for the first 10 months.

One offsetting factor to mitigate a higher percentage decline in residential-detached sales in 2017 compared to last year, as a result of tougher mortgage qualification requirements, is a stronger move-up market.

Two examples back this point up. In October the southwest MLS® zone which had an average residential-detached sale price of over $400,000 saw sales increase this October while all the other more affordably priced MLS® zones ,including the rural MLS® areas outside Winnipeg, were either seeing fewer sales or flat in residential-detached sales activity.

Another example of stronger move- up activity this year is the significant difference in million dollar plus sales compared to the previous three years. For the first ten months there have been 45 sales in total, 40 residential-detached sales and 5 condominium sales. This compares to a total of 27 in 2016 and 20 in both 2015 and 2014.

“Our market may experience move-up sales activity than normal until the end of 2017 given that The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) just approved a new stress test on federally regulated mortgage lenders with respect to insured mortgages commencing January 1, 2018,” Sonnichsen said. “Similar to last year’s higher qualification requirement on insured mortgages which has heavily impacted first-time buyers, this new guideline will affect move-up buyers more and will limit their ability to qualify for higher-priced homes. They must meet the minimum qualifying rate for an uninsured mortgage which is the higher of either the five-year Bank of Canada rate or one that is 2 percentage points higher than their contractual mortgage rate.”

Helping some Manitobans feel confident about advancing their buying decision now before this new stress test kicks in is the recent good news of job gains for Manitoba. Statistics Canada reported the Manitoba economy added 4,000 new jobs in October and as a result had its unemployment rate drop to 5.2 per cent, second only to British Columbia at 4.9 per cent.

Further, October 2017 MLS® sales activity reported prevalent condominium sales in the under $200,000 price range. These sales represented 44% of total condo sales. In comparison sales under $200,000 for the residential-detached property type were 16%.

“Whatever price range you are looking to buy in, you need to be calling a REALTOR®- a market expert who will help you navigate the ever changing real estate environment and real estate financing” said Marina R. James, CEO of WinnipegREALTORS®.

Since 1903, WinnipegREALTORS® has assisted its members in achieving high levels of excellence in organized real estate by providing superior tools and services that enhance and build a vibrant real estate industry. Representing over 1,900 REALTORS® and other industry related professions active in the Winnipeg metropolitan area, WinnipegREALTORS® promotes the value of a REALTOR® and organized real estate. WinnipegREALTORS® provides its members with essential market information, professional development sessions, networking opportunities, marketing products, an effective industry voice and strong leadership to further their professional success.

The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by CREA and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA.

For further information, contact Peter Squire at (204) 786-8854