New home starts strong, outlook promising
LOOKING at the first five months of this year, the total number of new home starts in Winnipeg and the surrounding area is on par with last year. As noted earlier in the year, the multi-family (apartments, townhomes, condominiums) are ahead of last year’s pace, while the single-family homes are slightly behind last year. History has shown the larger projects tend to get started earlier in the year and then taper off to anticipated levels, while single-family homes build as the year progresses. Don’t be surprised if the year-end totals finish exactly as anticipated, fairly well on par with last year. Early indications are that new home starts in Winnipeg and the surrounding areas will continue at the current level in 2016 before ramping up a bit in each of 2017, 2018 and 2019. The fast-paced increase in starts at the start of this decade had no option but to cool off for a three or four year period before heating up again. One school of thought is that this year and next year will both be excellent times to purchase a new home as the market is more stable and predictable. Interest rates remain unchanged throughout this year and the labour availability, although tight, is able to accommodate current new home demands. If the increased demand for new housing over the last three years of this decade plays out as forecast and the skilled labour force declines due to retirement, the wait time could be longer and costs could rise at a faster pace. Both the new home and resale markets remain healthy in the Winnipeg area. One interesting observation is that the turnaround time from listing or purchase interest to sale is lengthening slightly. This may be due to increased listings on MLS and the tremendous amount of choice options for new homes. The number of sales for both markets is consistent and the increase in value and price is on par with last year. Consumers are just taking a little longer to make their final decisions. It is important to note that Winnipeg and Manitoba have not experienced the declines that are currently occurring in Saskatchewan after that boom period. The impact of lower oil and gas prices in Alberta has not been fully played out in their market either. While we have not enjoyed the natural resource booms both of our prairie neighbours have experienced, we will continue to produce a superior product at a superior price.
Mike Moore is president of the Manitoba Home Builders’ Association
The total number of new home starts in Winnipeg and the surrounding area is on par with last year.