Would-be Winnipeg owners exhausted from home searching in ‘roller-coaster’ market – Winnipeg

The average price of a home in Winnipeg reached an all-new high by mid-March, a problem residents say is making house hunting an exhausting process.

“I’ve been on the house hunt now for a full year, and it’s been a roller-coaster,” said Colette Mondor, a Winnipeg house hunter. “It’s very frustrating, hard to find everything on your bucket list.”

She sold her house last summer after experiencing difficulties from the pandemic. Now ready to buy another home, she says she’s had to lower her expectations, from her desired neighbourhood to the number of bedrooms she’d hoped to have.

“I’ve had to increase my budget by $50,000 since I started last year and it still seems to be insufficient,” she says. “The offers with conditions, the sellers aren’t going to look at, they’re going to brush them off the table.”

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Experts say while the demand in Winnipeg is strong, the supply is not.

“Our inventory has really been depleted because of the supercharged activity we saw in the second half of 2020 and all the way through 2021,” said Peter Squire, vice-president of External Relations Market Intelligence at the Winnipeg Real Estate Board.

The average price of a single-family detached home in Winnipeg was $379,000 in December of 2021. Now, in mid-March that price point has increased to roughly $440,000.

“That’s concerning to me in terms of our affordability.”

“It’s really rising at a rate that I’ve never seen before and at such a short period of time,” Squire says. “We’re seeing a lot more multiple offers and bidding wars.”

Outbidding buyers has become popular in Winnipeg, as the short supply of houses for sale makes other buyers desperate.

“For those people that are determined to live in a neighbourhood and even potentially on a certain street – they’re prepared to get into a bidding war and that’s what’s happening.”

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One potentially more cost-efficient option for homebuyers is to build instead of buy, says Tim Comack, vice-president of Venture Development Inc.

“It’s certainly more effective from the perspective that you know what you’re getting and when you’re getting it and also on a dollar per square basis, you get better value,” Comack says.

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To help people get into the market, some provinces have removed the land transfer tax for first-time buyers, a financial hurdle that Manitoba has not suspended.

“We’ve got an all-time increase in the price of housing and so those land transfer tax dollars have gone through the roof,” Comack says.

Manitobans are required to pay the land transfer tax when purchasing a home. It’s calculated on the fair market value of the home on the date of registration of a transfer of title.

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“It’s an opportunity now to see if we can make it more affordable to close on a house for first-time buyers,” Comack says. “We are one of the few (provinces) who doesn’t incentivize through a rebate on the land transfer tax. It’s an excellent opportunity for us to step forward and welcome new Canadians to our province and give them a little bit of a leg up.”

Squire says the Real Estate Board is calling on the PC government to create a rebate for the land transfer tax for new homeowners in the upcoming provincial budget.

“I really think it’s time that our provincial government recognizes how unfair this land transfer tax is but, especially for first-time buyers,” says Squire.

“Until we see more supply, more listings come on to our MLS in the spring, I don’t see any changes (in the stress for buyers).”

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