Affordability Draws Renters, First-Time Buyers into Winnipeg Housing Market, Despite High Tax Rate

A significant uptick in sales and values in the Winnipeg housing market in the last six weeks of 2023 has set the stage for home-buying activity in 2024, according to findings from RE/MAX Canada’s 2024 Tax Report. Listings that had lingered on the market were quickly snapped up, some in multiple-offer situations, between mid-November and mid-December. The same momentum has been noted in the first two weeks of January as the potential for an end to the Bank of Canada’s stance on quantitative tightening grows increasingly likely after four rate pauses in a row.

There has been a considerable increase in the number of renters getting into the market, in large part due to rental rates that look more like mortgage payments at present. First time buyers, many of whom are new to the country, would rather own their homes than paying off someone else’s mortgage. As such, the land transfer and property taxes are just part of the process, despite property rate taxes that are amongst the highest in the country. The vast majority of first-time purchasers are coming to the table with at least two percent of the property’s value set aside for land transfer taxes and closing costs.

For move up buyers, they’ve generally factored the land transfer tax into the equation. However, at higher price points, from $750,000 to $1 million, buyers may put their decision to move on pause, opting to renovate instead. Seniors, particularly those who have lost partners and live alone, may choose to age in place rather than undertaking the additional costs, not to mention the stress of a move.

The greatest activity remains at lower price points, where inventory levels are particularly low. The Winnipeg housing market is one of Canada’s most affordable, with an average price in 2023 hovering at just over $400,000 (approximately $5,700 in land transfer tax). Most first-time buyers are looking at properties priced between $350,000 and $450,000. Trade-up buyers are typically active between $500,000 and $750,000.

Like other parts of the country, overall housing stock in the city remains low. Yet, net international migration, comprised of immigrants, net emigration, and net non-permanent residents, added an estimated 36,000 to Manitoba’s population in the first three quarters of 2023, according to Statistics Canada Quarterly Demographic Estimates: Provinces and Territories Interactive Dashboard. Population growth is expected to contribute to housing market activity in Winnipeg in the year ahead, bolstered by an anticipated fall in interest rates in the second or third quarters.

Methodology for Residential Land Transfer Tax in the Winnipeg Housing Market

0 – $30,000 – No Tax
$30,001 to $90,000 – 0.5 per cent
$90,001 to $150,000 – 1 per cent
$150,001 to $200,000 – 1.5 per cent
$200,000 and above – 2 per cent


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