Winnipeg Real Estate: Kris Thorkelson, Others Confident In Its Future

The demand for multi-family unit homes in Winnipeg is expected to rise sharply between now and 2040, according to a 2015 Conference Board of Canada report, and Baby Boomers will likely lead the demand.

Currently, the average house price in Winnipeg sits at just under $300,000, up from $282,684 in 2016, representing a .9 per cent increase year over year. While these are reasonable prices in comparison with other major cities across Canada, the demographic outlook shows that Winnipeg residents will likely buy fewer single unit homes.

Not unlike the rest of the country, Winnipeg is aging, and increased levels of immigration will be needed to buttress its average of 1.2 per cent population growth per year, which is also typical for most of Canada. The city is expected to attract an average of almost 8,500 net international migrants each year from 2015 to 2040.

Baby Boomers (those born between 1946-1964) currently account for about 25.9 per cent of the population in the census metropolitan area. They are just beginning to enter their retirement years, in which they may trade in their single-family homes (for a tidy profit) and settle into apartment complexes—and eventually, retirement residences. As a result, the average number of persons per household is expected to slowly decline in the medium term.

This means the construction industry will have to adapt in the face of an aging population, as most elderly people will choose to downsize. The conference board expects that by the end of 2027, the number of new multiple starts will surpass the number of new single starts and make up 54 per cent of total housing starts in Winnipeg by the end of the forecast.

And by 2040, apartment complexes and row housing will account for about 97 per cent of all multiple starts, with construction on more than 2,225 new apartment units and nearly 439 row units—a little more than half of all housing starts.

Noting the growth of Winnipeg’s real estate market, Mary Pidlaski of Re/Max Realtor with Executive Realty said, “The city’s greatest growth period was in the early 1900s. Now, in the last decade, Winnipeg has experienced a similar amount of growth.”

Kris Thorkelson also has reason to be optimistic about these stats. He is president of My Place Realty, a property management company in Winnipeg that provides multi-family homes and prides itself on defining a new standard for quality and customer satisfaction in property management.
“I have no doubt that Baby Boomers will drive demand in my industry,” Kris Thorkelson says. “Their children have grown, so they need less space, but demand more services. They are living longer, healthier lives and generally have more disposable income.”

Thorkelson’s company tends not to construct new buildings, but renovate old ones, which also might serve people better as they age. “We prefer to choose buildings with the right bones that can be renovated and updated, because they are often in the heart of the neighbourhoods that people most want to live in—close to shops, services and cultural activities.”

The Boomer generation continues to dominate all aspects of society, and though their aging population will require an increase in immigration, Winnipeg already has policies in place to attract new migrants--a blessing to the area’s economic potential.