As the Ontario real estate market bounces back from the coronavirus pandemic, many homebuyers may think they may have missed out on the brief opportunity at the height of the public health crisis. In March and April, many of the province’s housing markets experienced modest price declines, offering discounts on detached, semi-detached, townhomes and condominiums.
Prices and sales quickly increased again through the summer in what proved to be a delayed spring market. However, that does not mean all of Ontario’s housing markets are out of range for first-time buyers, families and newcomers, when immigration to Canada eventually resumes its typical pace. With a little bit of due diligence, you can find a region or a city in the province that can present you with the property of your dreams.
Don’t believe it? Consider this fact: according to the 2020 RE/MAX Housing Affordability Report, 75 per cent of Canada’s largest cities are undervalued. This dispels the notion that housing in Canada is largely unaffordable, despite the country having one of the hottest real estate markets in the world. So, where in Ontario can you currently get the most bang for your buck?
The Most Affordable Ontario Real Estate Markets
First, it is important to understand what determines an affordable market. Contrary to popular belief, it goes beyond the average home price. An affordable market takes into account the level of income necessary to afford the purchase of a house. For example, the median income in Hamilton is approximately $67,000 and the average home price is a little more than $500,000. This makes Hamilton an affordable market.
Here are six of the most affordable Ontario real estate markets to check out this fall:
Home Price: $297,938 (CREA June 2020, year-to-date average price)
Income Required: $33,749
When Sudbury witnessed an uptick in confirmed COVID-19 cases, officials were forced to implement strict safety measures for people buying and selling their homes. That did not stop real estate activity in the area as home sales have been on the rise – and for good reason. Sudbury is one of the province’s most affordable cities to live in in Ontario. As more people exit the big cities amid the work-from-home trend, cities such as Sudbury have a become a prime location for families looking to move, offering more space and an affordable cost of living.
Home Price: $570,612 (CREA July 2020, year-to-date average price)
Income Required: $73,654
The Barrie housing market continues on the road to recovery as average home prices and sales increased in July. They have been on an upward trend since May. In recent years, Barrie has attracted many residents from Toronto. Real estate experts predict this trend will continue to be the case for two main reasons. The first is that a lot of professionals will begin to telecommute in the coronavirus economy, with many companies introducing work-from-home policies. Secondly, for those who will still be required to commute to the office, Barrie has benefitted from investment in expanded public transit networks, making the trip from Barrie to Toronto much more convenient.
Home Price: $383,521 (CREA July 2020, year-to-date average price)
Income Required: $52,192
Windsor is one of Ontario’s best-kept secrets. You can purchase a large property for the average price of a two-bedroom apartment in Toronto, and many young couples are following the smell of savings! The Windsor housing market continued to sizzle even during the coronavirus pandemic, and now that the city has joined the rest of the province by officially moving into stage three or reopening, this boom is expected to intensify. CBC News writes:
“In addition to the lower housing prices…Windsor makes it an attractive city to buyers and investors because of its close proximity to Detroit, low traffic, relatively warm weather and views, the casino and the imminent construction of the mega hospital.”
For now, Windsor is an affordable market, but with home prices continually rising and inventories falling, the balance could shift in favour of sellers.
Home Price: $493,007 (CREA June 2020, year-to-date average price)
Income Required: $66,317
The Niagara Home Builders’ Association (NHBA) said in Statistics Canada’s monthly survey of home builders that retirees and remote workers have amplified demand for new housing in the Niagara region, which elevated prices by one per cent last month.
“As working from home becomes more prevalent, we may see an increase in the demand for larger living spaces that single-family homes can offer, causing a shift in demand from condominium apartments towards single houses,” the NHBA noted in the monthly survey.
Indeed, this trend has been seen in a number of Canadian housing markets from coast to coast.
A lot of Ontario residents frequent Niagara as a local getaway destination. With travel restrictions in place, Niagara has witnessed a boom in domestic tourism, thanks to its vineyards, sights and entertainment. But upon the first visit, many are wondering if this is a place worth moving to and planting roots, to enjoy the sights all year long.
Home Price: $505,998 (CREA July 2020, year-to-date average price)
Income Required: $69,072
Sales activity has been strong in Peterborough and the Kawartha Lakes in the aftermath of the peak COVID-19 period. In April, residential home sales plummeted 58.1 per cent, but they have rebounded as much as 34.5 per cent since. The contributing factor has been GTA buyers fleeing the region and seeking homes in smaller, quieter cities like Peterborough. The problem? Not enough supply, says Chiarina Payne, president of Peterborough and the Kawarthas Association of Realtors, in an interview with MyKawartha.com.
With interest rates at historic lows and demand expected to remain healthy, residential prices in the region are expected to rise by three per cent by the end of the 2020.
Home Price: $286,114 (CREA July 2020, year-to-date average price)
Income Required: $39,893
For a long time, homebuyers have overlooked northern Ontario in favour of its southern urban counterparts. Unlike other rural areas, access to typical amenities is not as easy and development is more limited compared to the rest of the province. That said, real estate sales have been climbing in cities like North Bay, possibly because of greater infrastructure investment, improved land development, and lower taxation. With the combination of incredibly affordable homes, and the increased flexibility of telecommuting employees, this trend is likely to continue through the rest of 2020.
Ontario’s slogan is “Yours to discover,” but the concept is more than just a garnish on our license plates. There is a lot of the province that most people have yet to see, and this is important if you are searching for a property to purchase. For Ontario real estate hunters, Toronto is an ideal location but the cost of a Toronto home is unaffordable for many. Exploring or expanding your home search to other parts of the province is more doable than ever before: public transit routes are expansive, remote work is more common, and a lot of cities in Ontario offer comparable amenities to what you would find in Toronto or Hamilton. Ready to make the great escape from big city life? Time to start discovering Ontario real estate!