For condominium owners and first-time homebuyers, a set of housing market statistics released last month may provide some encouragement.
The numbers, provided by the Winnipeg Realtors Association, show that home sales in the city declined by 2 percent in April. When compared to the same time period in the same location in 2013, surveys show that while 1,245 homes were sold in Winnipeg last year, only 1,227 were sold this year. According to the association's president, these numbers sit at the expected 10-year average performance level.
Based on the report, declining home sales are likely related to high prices in the market. While fewer properties were sold this year, sales totaled $333.1 million, slightly higher than last year's total of $325.9 million. Of the detached homes that sold in April this year, 37 percent of them sold for somewhere between $200,000 and $300,000, with the most active price range starting at around $250,000.
This is an intimidating price tag for many prospective buyers — particularly for first-time homebuyers who typically find affordability to be an important factor in the selection process. For example, a typical starter house in Alberta measuring 1,300 square feet and sitting on a double lot recently sold for a whopping $249,000. Most houses in the region are similarly priced, acting as a deterrent for many of those looking to purchase their first home.
As an alternative, many first-time buyers have turned to the condominium market, where the most common price tag sits between $150,000 and $200,000. In addition to offering lower purchasing prices, most condos also ask for lower monthly mortgage payments and offer lower property tax rates. Many owners also appreciate the additional conveniences condominiums offer, such as shared maintenance costs for common areas, easy access to amenities, community gathering spaces and increased home security.
Purchasing a condominium also allows an owner to join the building's homeowners' association, which brings added benefits. With the current state of the residential real estate market, it's easy to see why so many individuals and families are seeing condominiums as a wise investment as they search for their next home.