Ren­o­va­tion in­dus­try likely to re­main strong

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Mike Moore

RES­I­DEN­TIAL ren­o­va­tion is a $54-bil­lion busi­ness an­nu­ally in Canada.

Man­i­toba and Win­nipeg have long been re­puted to be the ren­o­va­tion cap­i­tals of Canada. Even though we don’t al­ways fol­low na­tional trends, we can al­ways learn from them.

Even in the re­ces­sion­ary times of late 2008 and early 2009, ren­o­va­tion spend­ing re­mained pos­i­tive in Canada. Last year, home im­prove­ments and re­pairs in­creased .8 per cent across the coun­try in a time where dis­cre­tionary spend­ing was be­ing se­verely re­duced. Much of the credit goes to the Home Ren­o­va­tion Tax Credit and the ecoEnergy retro­fit grants from the fed­eral govern­ment.

Now that both pro­grams have ended, it will be in­ter­est­ing to see the im­pact on ren­o­va­tions this year. Al­though the HRTC did its in­tended job of stim­u­lat­ing the econ­omy, it should have been ex­tended in some form.

Win­nipeg has the third-old­est hous- ing stock in Canada and those houses will re­quire ren­o­va­tions. Our boom in ex­ist­ing home sales also bodes well for the in­dus­try. Many house­holds make re­pairs, as well as cos­metic changes prior to sell­ing, in or­der to in­crease the at­trac­tive­ness of the house.

There are, how­ever, a few dark clouds on the hori­zon for the ren­o­va­tion in­dus­try. First and fore­most is the im­pact of the Har­mo­nized Sales Tax.

On­tario and B.C. are im­ple­ment­ing the HST on July 1 of this year; Que­bec and Nova Sco­tia are in­creas­ing their ex­ist­ing tax rates. Man­i­toba is cur­rently HST free, so our home­own­ers seek­ing ren­o­va­tions will not be sub­ject to that ad­di­tional tax bur­den.

The pro­jected in­crease in in­ter­est rates may have some ef­fect on the in­dus­try, but it is not likely to be a large fac­tor in Man­i­toba. Rates are still very low and con­sumers still see the wis­dom in tak­ing ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity to bor­row in or­der to make home im­prove­ments.

Ren­o­va­tion spend­ing is pro­jected to be up 6.6 per cent across Canada this year, with com­pa­ra­ble in­creases in Man­i­toba. That num­ber will drop by 3.2 per cent in Canada while re­main­ing about the same here in 2011.

By all ac­counts, the ren­o­va­tion in­dus­try is ex­pected to re­main very strong in Man­i­toba for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

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