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Consumers the winners in housing market

With the flurry of activity over the past month or so regarding the Spring Parade of Homes and the Home Expressions Home and Garden Show, we have been so busy focusing on home-related events that we have been delinquent on the home-related news review.

Both the new and resale housing markets have been very busy and the news has been primarily positive.

In early March, the City of Winnipeg announced a revision and improvement in the way it reviews and approves building plans and permits.

There will still be the same diligence and accountability. The building code and all other regulations are still in place. There will be no compromises on quality.

The primary difference is that professional plans stamped by professional engineers and created by professional drafts persons will be reviewed faster due to efficiencies being implemented early in the process.

The trickle-down effect is that we will have our permit applications reviewed faster so we can proceed with renovations on our existing homes.

Manitobans lead the country in renovation activity and this should encourage compliance in taking out building permits. That should be a relief to those in the home buying market. Even frequent critics of city hall policies are applauding this new permit initiative.

It seems as though Canadian economists and media outlets are spending an inordinate amount of time recently speculating on a housing bubble. Is one in our future?

Although most of this discussion is on a national level and seems to be aimed at larger urban centres such as Toronto and Vancouver, every region tends to be included. That is why it was so refreshing to read the comments of a TD Bank economist who said that a crash or bubble bursting situation was not in line for Winnipeg.

Her reasoning was that a price correction may be spread out over three or four years, but due to a strong and growing local economy, a high employment rate, strong consumer confidence, a growing population fuelled by immigration, one of the most affordable housing markets in Canada and the fact that the percentage of household income needed to own a home here is among the lowest of any major Canadian city, she felt that we were not in a position of high risk.

This further bodes well for the local consumer looking to purchase a new home.

Mike Moore is president of the Manitoba Home Builders' Association.

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