The Ontario real estate market has been surprisingly resilient during the coronavirus pandemic and has even been an engine of recovery for the overall Ontario economy. Yet, cases of the virus are on the rise in this province and open houses are off the table once again.
As homebuyers and sellers rely on technology to dip their feet into the market, activity continues despite fears and anxieties.
According to the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), Ontarians continue to see home-buying as a good investment. Just over one in two Ontarians (51%) in the real estate market report they are currently actively looking to buy a home. Meanwhile, the public is also lobbying for a Land Transfer Tax holiday in order to increase inventory and address some of the supply issues that the province of Ontario is experiencing.
Although the rental market has had some tough blows since many service-sector jobs were lost, home ownership continues to be a priority for many Canadians. This disproportionate demand has created upward pressure on house prices across the province. Below we explore some of the key trends in the Ontario housing market contributing to this persistent price growth.
House Prices in the Ontario Real Estate Market
Last spring, some of Canada’s top economists predicted a sharp decline in house prices up to 18 per cent, yet many weren’t convinced this would be the case. Months later, experts still believe the strength of the market will remain on its upward course, with prices continuing to rise in Q4 2020.
Ontario Submarket Differences
While the province is seeing overall gains in the real estate market, a disparity exists between urban and suburban regions. House prices are reflecting the shift in lifestyle preferences within these markets. Notably, some of the biggest price gains have been seen in suburban cities like Oshawa, Hamilton and Mississauga. Another small city seeing significant, unprecedented growth is Windsor. In fact, at 17 per cent, Windsor had the largest average price appreciation in the past three months.
Social distancing measures have left condo dwellers cooped up, which has contributed to the shift toward larger homes in suburban and rural locations. Over the past six months, “home” has transformed into a multi-use space for living, working, learning, staying fit, relaxing and more. Not surprisingly, homes with spacious multi-level floor plans and home offices are becoming more desirable.
In addition, common areas within condo buildings, such as lobbies and elevators, are turning some people off condo living. Personal space has become more important in light of the pandemic, which can be hard to find in a dense urban setting.
Ontario markets such as Durham and Peel are seeing booming sales activity. While some may have expected the biggest price gains to take place in popular cities such as Toronto, many homebuyers are gravitating towards the outskirts. The opportunity to secure larger homes with more square footage and access to green space are just a few factors luring buyers further from urban hubs.
Supply and Demand
Ontario experienced lingering demand after the traditional spring home-buying season was pushed into the summer and autumn months. As the economy opened back up across the province, people were eager to purchase homes again.
Yet, low housing inventory has led to upward pressure on prices as competition rises. At the local level, several Ontario markets are now into weeks of inventory rather than months. Highlighting supply issues, the majority of the province was close to or just under one month of inventory.
Low Interest Rates
Across the country low interest rates are attracting homebuyers and helping to keep the market afloat. The Bank of Canada has lowered the rate to 0.25 per cent, which is historically the lowest it’s ever been. Those who were previously sidelined can now borrow at a lower cost. This could be enticing for hopeful homebuyers, who can now potentially secure more financing to purchase the home they desire.
The Ontario housing market is continuing to experience soaring prices in various submarkets. COVID-19 has influenced some home purchasing trends as people expand their home search to suburban and rural areas.