At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, many potential homebuyers sat on the sidelines, waiting for a COVID-19 discount. Activity declines dramatically in March and April, but the delayed spring market came roaring back, igniting record-setting growth for both residential sales and prices. From Halifax to Toronto to Vancouver, many of the nation’s real estate markets have reported monthly double-digit percentage gains, suggesting that a lot of Canadians potentially missed out on a deal, if they waited too long. Is all hope lost? Not quite. Ontario still has some affordable real estate in several municipal housing markets.
Although average prices may have surged upwards from what they were a year ago, these cities continue to offer opportunities for first-time homebuyers. With interest rates at historical lows and consumer trends changing as people work from home, now could be a good time for first-time homebuyers to make that leap into the Ontario real estate market.
First-Time Homebuyer? Check Out These Affordable Real Estate Markets in Ontario
You may have learned by now that one of the hottest real estate markets – provincially and nationwide – is Windsor. The municipality, which had long been ignored by homebuyers, has turned into a seller’s market, with homeowners cashing in on the dramatic surge in prices. Does this mean you missed out on affordability? Not quite.
The average price of homes sold in 2020 (based on January-October data) was a record $406,861, up 21 per cent over 2019, according to the RE/MAX 2021 Housing Market Outlook Report. When you consider that this price will not get you any house or condominium in Toronto or Vancouver, this market could be considered a steal for first-time homebuyers.
Windsor is experiencing rampant development, a population boom, and consumer and business interest. Is Windsor the next major urban centre in Ontario?
The city of Sudbury has been embarking upon an affordable housing strategy to support the municipality’s low-income population. Despite this strategy, the city has witnessed monumental price gains over the past year. But for newcomers, especially from the big cities, average prices remain a lot cheaper than in Ontario’s large urban hubs.
The price of an average home sold in Sudbury in 2020 (January-October) reached $311,940, rising nine per cent over 2019 prices. Once again, this dollar figure would buy you very little in nearly all the red-hot cities.
With more development expected to occur in Northern Ontario amid the strengthening demand, there might be no better buying opportunity than right now.
For years, Thunder Bay was ranked as Ontario’s most affordable housing market. With the coronavirus reshaping the Canadian real estate market, is the northwestern Ontario town still affordable for homebuyers? Despite everything that has transpired this year, Thunder Bay may remain a desirable destination for those looking to dip their toe into real estate, whether as an investor or occupant.
In 2020, the average sale price for Thunder Bay homes homes rose 7.4 per cent to $248,462 (January-October) compared to 2019’s full-year figures. Sure, Thunder Bay is a long way from Toronto, Hamilton or Montreal, but when more households have remote work freedom, this picturesque city on the shores of Lake Superior could be a fantastic municipality to plant roots.
Kingston has ranked consistently high nationally as one of the best places to retire. It makes sense as all the criteria give Kingston a substantial boost: great affordability, access to health care, moderate weather, rich culture, diverse community and low crime. But if it is great for seniors, what about everyone else?
RE/MAX reported that Kingston’s average residential sale price in 2020 (January-October) was $464,083, up 11 per cent over 2019’s average sale price. Much of this price creep is attributed to spiking demand in the Kingston market. With another 10-per-cent price increase forecasted for 2021, first-time homebuyers who are looking at this market are advised to jump in while they still can.
Housing Boom, Housing Affordability
Real estate in Canada has been the envy of the world. On the one hand, the country has some of the hottest markets on the planet, with sales activity and residential valuations climbing to record levels. On the other hand, 75 per cent of the nation’s regions are undervalued. This suggests that housing affordability continues to be the most appealing characteristic for the Great White North. Put simply, you should not be deterred by the monumental surge in prices in the major urban centres – or anywhere else, for that matter. Why? Borrowing costs are down, unconventional markets are becoming the most lucrative, and the slightest hiccup in the broader real estate market could be a tremendous buying opportunity.