First-time buyer tenacity boosts home sales despite further erosion of affordability, says RE/MAX



    Heated Spring real estate market forecast from coast-to-coast

    MISSISSAUGA, ON, March 20 /CNW/ - Higher housing values, tight inventory
levels, and all-out bidding wars have yet to deter first-time buyers in their
quest to realize homeownership in major Canadian centres this year, according
to a report released today by RE/MAX.
    "Despite a decade of year-over-year price increases, compounded by
challenging market conditions this year, entry-level buyers continue to be a
driving force in real estate," says Michael Polzler, Executive Vice President
and Regional Director, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada. "Their undaunted
enthusiasm is expected to translate into sales at or ahead of last year's
record levels in the Spring."
    The RE/MAX Affordability Report, which highlights first-time buying
activity and trends in 13 housing markets across the country, found that
substantial price increases have had little impact on buyer intentions. The
greatest year-over-year price appreciation occurred in Edmonton, Calgary,
Saskatoon, and Kelowna, where averages rose 52, 29, 26, and 23 per cent
respectively. Average price in the country's most expensive market - Greater
Vancouver - has jumped 11 per cent, topping the half million-dollar mark.
While prices in these markets may now seem costly, entry-level product such as
condominiums can start at half the average price.
    "Buyers are finding the means necessary to enter the market, even in the
western provinces, where double-digit price gains have been reported and sales
to listings ratios hover above the 80 per cent mark," says Elton Ash, Regional
Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. "Purchasers simply refuse
to be priced out of the market, even though household income has not kept pace
with housing appreciation. Something's got to give - and the trends identified
in this report show it's the how, what, where and when of the equation."
    Case in point is the surge in condominium sales from coast-to-coast.
Affordability and accessibility have made the condominium lifestyle a popular
choice. Condominiums now represent just under one in every two sales in
markets like Vancouver and Victoria. In Edmonton, Calgary, and the Greater
Toronto Area, close to one in every three sales involve a condominium
apartment or town home. In smaller markets like Saskatoon, Regina, and
Winnipeg, condominiums are gaining momentum. Condominium sales represent
approximately 12 per cent of total residential sales in Halifax-Dartmouth and
Ottawa.
    "Low interest rates and solid economic performance in most major Canadian
centres have also played a substantial role in providing purchasers with the
confidence to go out and buy their first home," explains Polzler. "Yet, in
some centers, there are other motivating factors at play. Price increases, for
example, are a reality in the marketplace. One year can set you back - from
location to house size - and your dollar just doesn't have the same purchasing
power."
    Yet, buyers have found inventive ways to address that as well. Innovative
financing has allowed a growing number of first-time buyers to enter the
marketplace. With most prepared to up the ante to realize "the dream of
homeownership," unique new mortgage products with longer amortization periods
are helping to make mortgage payments easier to carry.
    "The offloading of family wealth and inheritance are also factors
influencing the up swell in home-buying activity," says Ash. "Some first-time
buyers are digging into RRSPs and borrowing money from parents, while others
are looking to offset carrying costs through in-law suites, now factored into
debt service ratios by a growing number of lending institutions."

    RE/MAX is Canada's leading real estate organization with over 16,880
sales associates situated throughout its more than 630 independently owned and
operated offices across the country. The RE/MAX franchise network, now in its
34th year of consecutive growth, is a global real estate system operating in
over 67 countries. More than 6,890 independently owned offices engage 120,520
member sales associates who lead the industry in professional designations,
experience and production while providing real estate services in residential,
commercial, referral, relocation and asset management. For more information,
visit: www.remax.ca.

    To view the report, please visit:
    http://files.newswire.ca/348/REMAXAfford.pdf


    
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                 STARTING PRICE FOR AFFORDABLE ALTERNATIVES
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Residential                               Starting
                              MLS                     Starting        Price
                            Average         %          Price         Single-
    Market                 Price(xxx)    Change     Condominium      Family
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Greater Vancouver      $531,300       11.4%       $300,000      $500,000
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Victoria               $467,689       17.6%       $189,000      $289,000
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Kelowna(*)             $444,081       22.6%       $140,000      $260,000
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Calgary                $385,536       29.4%       $250,000      $300,000
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Edmonton               $313,407       51.9%       $120,000      $350,000
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Saskatoon              $188,585       26.3%       $105,000      $100,000
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Regina                 $126,096       -0.5%        $85,000       $95,000
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Winnipeg(xx)           $160,509       12.0%        $55,000       $79,900
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Ottawa                 $263,215        5.8%       $130,000      $200,000
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Greater Toronto        $362,003        4.8%       $150,000      $350,000
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hamilton-Burlington    $265,513        9.7%       $147,000      $172,000
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Kitchener-Waterloo     $243,109        6.7%       $100,000      $225,000
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Halifax-Dartmouth      $205,891        5.6%       $145,000      $190,000
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Source: CREA, OMREB (Central Okanagan)(*), VREB, CREB, EREB, WREB, TREB,
    and RE/MAX

        (xx)    Note: Average Price for Winnipeg is based on Total MLS
        (xxx)   Note: Average Prices are Year-to-Date February 2007
    





For further information:

For further information: Christine Martysiewicz, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic
Canada, (905) 542-2400; Eva Blay, Charlene McAdam, Kim Kofman, Point Blank
Communications, (416) 781-3911


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