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Ontario housing markets to lead Canada heading into 2021

Ontario housing markets to lead Canada heading into 2021

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Ontario housing markets to lead Canada heading into 2021

Housing markets across Canada are expected to remain active for the remainder of 2020 due to pent-up demand and low inventory levels – with price growth in Ontario leading the way, according to a new report from ReMax Canada.

The ReMax Fall Market Outlook Report forecasts the average sale price in Canada could increase by 4.6 per cent during the remainder of the year, compared to the 3.7 per cent increase that was predicted in late 2019.

The pandemic has prompted many Canadians to reassess their living situations. According to a survey conducted by Leger on behalf of ReMax, 32 per cent of Canadians no longer want to live in large urban centres, and instead would opt for rural or suburban communities. This trend is stronger among Canadians under the age of 55.

Pent-up demand

“The classically hot spring market that was pushed to the summer months due to the COVID-19 pandemic created a surprisingly strong market across Canada and across all market segments,” says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Looking ahead, government financial aid programs may be coming to an end in September, which could potentially impact future activity. However, the pent-up demand and low inventory dynamic may keep prices steady and bolster activity for the remainder of 2020. Overall, we are very confident in the long-term durability of the market.”

Not only are Canadians more motivated to leave cities, but changes in work and life dynamics have also shifted their needs and wants for their homes. According to the survey, 44 per cent of Canadians would like a home with more space for personal amenities, such as a pool, balcony or a large yard.

Ontario housing market

With Ontario one of the provinces hit hardest by the pandemic, markets such as Niagara, Mississauga and Kitchener-Waterloo experienced significant drops in activity, but bounced back aggressively in June as economies began to reopen. Toronto continues to be a sellers’ market, with low listing inventory and high demand. An uptick in new listings is anticipated for fall, now that buyers and sellers are more comfortable engaging in the housing market. ReMax estimates a five-per-cent increase in average residential sale price in Toronto for the remainder of the year, with the potential for modest price increases of up to six per cent in regions such as Hamilton, Brampton and London.

Luxury market thriving

Canada’s overall luxury market has remained strong throughout the pandemic, with market conditions unchanged from the beginning of the year in most regions.

The luxury segment in Toronto is considered balanced, with Vancouver pushing into a sellers’ market. Vancouver is beginning to see more interest from move-up buyers instead of the foreign buyers who drove demand in Vancouver’s luxury market prior to COVID-19. This was likely due to travel restrictions brought on by the pandemic. In Toronto, activity was slower than usual this spring as buyers did not have any urgency to transact during the pandemic.

Luxury housing in secondary markets such as Hamilton is seeing a slight uptick in activity, with high-end buyers seeking more square footage and larger properties outside of city centres. Hamilton has experienced an increase in buyer interest from residents from Brampton and Mississauga looking to relocate to the region.


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Toronto and Canada to lead global markets in post-COVID-19 real estate recovery: ReMax

Toronto and Canada to lead global markets in post-COVID-19 real estate recovery – ReMax

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Toronto and Canada to lead global markets in post-COVID-19 real estate recovery – ReMax

Canada’s – and Toronto’s – real estate markets will be among the strongest in the world in a post-COVID-19 recovery, according to a new report from ReMax Canada.

A Leger survey conducted on behalf of ReMax indicates that 56 per cent of Canadians who are planning to engage in the real estate market expect to do so in less than a year, showing an eagerness to get back to buying and selling.

Almost half (44 per cent) of Canadians believe the real estate market will bounce back to the strength it was before COVID-19 by 2021. Moreover, 29 per cent believe that before the end of 2020, the market in Canada will return to its pre-pandemic strength.

“While the Canadian market has seen a steep year-over-year decline in the volume of transactions during the peak of COVID-19 this spring, transactions have been happening and prices in particular have been resilient in much of Canada,” Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada, told Condo Life.

Christopher Alexander
Christopher Alexander

Alexander points to data from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), showing that national home sales in May were up 59.6 per cent from April. “Now that economies are beginning to reopen across the country, and in light of some of the recent activity we’ve seen in various cities across Canada, we anticipate that demand could begin to improve much faster than we initially anticipated at the beginning of COVID-19.”

In Toronto, Canada’s largest market, housing demand is already showing signs of rebounding. “The city has experienced an uptick in activity and a number of multiple-offer scenarios, pointing to a post-lockdown housing market outlook that is not nearly as dire as some suggested. Actual May 2020 sales increased by 55.2 per cent compared to April 2020.”

“Canada’s housing market was strong before COVID-19 hit, and despite the tragic impacts of the pandemic, we are optimistic that housing market could be restored much sooner than initially expected,” says Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president, ReMax of Western Canada. “As we saw in our 2020 Liveability Report, Canadian communities are resilient and people love their neighbourhoods, showing a collective commitment to bounce back.”

Pre-existing pent-up demand for homes in hot markets such as Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa may help mitigate the decline in buyers who are suffering pandemic-related job losses, ReMax says. Exceptionally low inventory in much of Canada may also contribute to upward price pressure as restrictions ease and demand increases further.

In line with economists’ predictions, ReMax Canada estimates relative price stability by the end of 2020, with a possible price correction in the single digits. Exceptions include regions such as Alberta and Newfoundland, which are still struggling to rebound from a host of shocks, the dive in resource revenues, and the potential for a second wave of COVID-19.

Real estate technology

The pandemic has pushed the global real estate industry to embrace a variety of technology tools that were previously available but not always adopted to facilitate a transaction. Now, professionals are integrating 3D home tours and virtual open houses into their listing and selling practices. Given that almost half of Canadians (46 per cent) say that in a post- COVID-19 landscape, they’d prefer to work with real estate agents who use technology and virtual services in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, agents will need to adapt in order to secure and build their businesses.

This sentiment is shared across both the U.S. and Europe, which have witnessed a shift in consumer wants toward a more digitalized homebuying and selling experience, such as e-signatures, virtual meetings and digital paperwork. ReMax notes that in some instances, buyers are still requesting in-person home tours before completing a transaction.

RELATED READING

Canadians loving their neighbourhoods in COVID-19

Why Canadians should think long term in real estate – especially now

Outlook 2020 – 5 things you need to know about real estate this year

 

 

 

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Canadians loving their neighbourhoods in COVID-19

Canadians loving their neighbourhoods in COVID-19

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Canadians loving their neighbourhoods in COVID-19

If the crisis of the few last months has proven anything, it’s that Canadians love their neighbourhoods.

According to a Leger survey conducted on behalf of ReMax, 82 per cent of Canadians say they would sacrifice at least one desirable attribute in order to live in the neighbourhood they believe meets their liveability “must-haves,” and 90 per cent of Canadians love the neighbourhoods they live in.

Liveability is about quality of life at a local level. A neighbourhood’s dynamism involves a delicate convergence between independent small businesses, public institutions, arts and culture, greenspaces and housing and other factors. COVID-19 will impact neighbourhood ecosystems differently across the country, just as the virus itself has. Yet, civic and local pride has been proliferating throughout this crisis in inspiring ways, giving Canadians hope that micro-economies, including real estate, have the resilience to be restored in the near- and mid-term.

“For the benefit of local small businesses and the capacity of residents to restore a high quality of life, or liveability, to their respective communities, the degree of local pride should give us all optimism,” says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada.

The 2020 ReMax Liveability Report explores the qualities that give each homeowner the true satisfaction of living in their neighbourhood, such as access to greenspaces or restaurants and entertainment. According to the report, 91 per cent of Canadians have at least one important liveability factor that’s very important to them when it comes to the neighbourhood they live in now or would like to live in, in the future.

Not surprisingly, housing affordability came in at the top at 61 per cent, followed by:


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Ontario markets among Canada's least affordable: ReMax

Ontario markets among Canada’s least affordable – ReMax

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Ontario markets among Canada’s least affordable – ReMax

Despite a commonly held notion that housing in Canada is unaffordable, a majority of Canada’s largest cities (75 per cent) are currently undervalued, according to the 2020 ReMax Housing Affordability Report.

Unfortunately, seven centres in Ontario rank in the top 10 markets that are least affordable.

“Affordability was a cornerstone narrative during last year’s election, perpetuating the overall banner statement across Canada that real estate is increasingly unaffordable and unattainable, particularly for younger, first-time home buyers,” Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada, told HOMES Publishing. “This perception is largely influenced (and skewed) by the Toronto and Vancouver markets, which represent some of the most expensive housing markets in North America. However, the housing market is more than these two cities and paint quite a different story. More markets are affordable than not, and most are accessible, with 75 per cent of brokers agreeing that their markets are undervalued.

In markets such as Toronto, demand is far outstripping supply, pushing prices up considerably as a result. “We need to continue to push for an increase in housing supply for buyers and renters, but we have yet to see a comprehensive national housing strategy to help facilitate this shift,” says Alexander.

“Given that approximately 110,000 new Canadians are settling in the GTA each year, the lack of available supply is a huge problem. This is concerning for affordability and needs to be addressed by a national housing strategy. Otherwise, we’ll only see the problem continue to grow and the home prices will continue to climb across the GTA.”

Of the regions surveyed, Winnipeg, Regina and Halifax are currently the most affordable markets, with average sales prices of $281,105, $301,473 and $319,071, respectively. Vancouver, Toronto and Mississauga are currently the least affordable regions in Canada, with average sales prices of $1.19 million, $883,520 and $760,005, respectively.

In Toronto, factors such as the OSFI mortgage stress test, listing shortages, rising prices and saving enough for a down payment are cited as preventing buyers from purchasing property. Buyers in this region are primarily looking to purchase condominiums, but as one of Canada’s least affordable housing markets, they continue to be priced out.

Emerging trends such as co-ownership with friends and family have become common in hot markets such as Vancouver and Toronto, in order to overcome the hurdle of high housing prices. In regions such as Brampton, Edmonton and Ottawa, sharing a single-family home between two families, dividing the floors between them or children seeking financial support from parents for down payments are becoming more common practices.

“All levels of government must work together to find a solution to Canada’s inventory issue, as the market will remain elusive for many otherwise,” says Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president, ReMax of Western Canada.


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The Power Seat – building industry CEOs call for government change

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The Power Seat – building industry CEOs call for government change

The Power Seat is a new feature series in which we put one pointed question to a select, specific audience.

We asked CEO level executives among the homebuilding community:

“You have been invited to a meeting with representatives of municipal, provincial and federal governments, and it’s your turn to speak. What do you say to them?”

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This year is one of continual growth, which presents the opportunity to respond to the current and future challenges Ontarians face. All levels of government project an increase in Ontario’s population of 2.6 million #homebelievers by 2031. Change is where need meets opportunity.
We need more housing supply and choice across Ontario, and that means housing can be a cornerstone solution to climate change, the employment skills gap and the economy. Instead of viewing growth as a problem, let’s view it as the change opportunity for the type of future, communities and neighbourhoods that Ontarians want to call home.

Joe Vaccaro
CEO, Ontario Home Builders’ Association

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All three levels of government need to work collaboratively, rather than in silos, and with one agenda, rather than competing ones. With a housing affordability and supply problem impacting the GTA, we need solutions-oriented collaboration.
We need to make it simpler to bring new homes to market by streamlining the process, faster to build new homes by reducing approval times, and fairer by making sure fees and taxes are equitable

Dave Wilkes
President and CEO, BILD

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Help us do our job to create new housing. We have a shortage of housing because of the lack of supply. Don’t look at new housing as a golden goose that you can keep laying on more and more municipal charges. Right now, about 24 per cent of the cost of all new housing is going to some level of government in the form of taxes, levies, charges and fees.

Gary Switzer
Chief Executive Officer MOD Developments, Toronto

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The three levels of government, as well as builders and developers, may all have different constituencies, but our objectives are remarkably similar.

Affordable housing works for all of us. Good planning works for all of us. Good design works for all of us. Building Green buildings works for all of us. Governments working together with developers works for all of us and can help facilitate all of this.

At The Rose Corporation, we accomplished exactly this, working with York Region, the Town of Newmarket and the federal government (CMHC). Together, we are now building a sustainable, complete and better overall community for having worked in close consultation with each other.

Daniel Berholz
President, The Rose Corporation

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The largest issue surrounds climate change, GHG emissions and resilience in new housing. Over the next decade, these may be some of the biggest changes our industry will face. Our building code is about to be changed to begin steering the industry towards net-zero homes.

Government needs to support the R&D side of the construction industry so that new and better products can be developed. Net-zero homes are achievable. There are a number of builders that have already constructed a discovery home and are looking at the ability to market this in a production capacity. Although from a technical perspective this is achievable, it will come at a significant cost. Net-zero homes will not be cheap.

The bigger question, then, is, will such initiatives be affordable? This is what governments will have to balance. When they regulate such a high minimum standard, our industry will be forced to meet the requirements. This is where R&D pays back. We need materials and products that are approved and available at the best price points possible to adopt into our building program.

Government should keep a close eye on the timing for mandating high standards of construction, and be mindful that affordability must be a top priority in the implementation.

Johnathan Schickedanz
General Manager, FarSight Homes, President, Durham Region Home Builders’ Association

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Housing affordability is one of the most important issues facing Canadians today. TREB remains diligent, along with other real estate boards and associations across Canada, in urging all levels of government to remove barriers and reduce the cost of homeownership.

With all levels of government in Canada, plus reputable international bodies acknowledging that we have a housing supply problem, and specifically the affordability pressures facing the GTA, it’s imperative for the growth of our city and region that we have flexible housing market policies that will help sustain balanced market conditions over the long term.

The time is now and policymakers need to translate their acknowledgment of supply issues into concrete solutions in 2020 to bring a greater array of ownership and rental housing online. As always, TREB will be there to help policymakers have the right impact on the market and Canadians.

John DiMichele
CEO, Toronto Real Estate Board

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The bottom line is this: Unless we can shorten the time it takes to bring developments through the approval process and to market faster, demand is going to continue to outstrip supply.

There have been some very positive enhancements the provincial government has put through to try and reduce these timeframes, by reducing red tape and other changes, and we’re grateful for that.

But in many cases the Province and the municipalities do not see eye to eye on how policies should be applied, and this constant fighting continuously thwarts the positive efforts and mires the process.

We have to work together – the politicians, building industry and public – to accept growth, have growth pay for growth, and not for unrelated municipal spending as well. We need to plan to have adequate supply of all types of housing, but especially what is missing in our urban areas today – the two- and three-bedroom midrise condos – the “missing middle.”

 cl_feb2020_the_power_seat_bob_finniganBob Finnigan
Principal and COO of Acquisition & Housing, Herity, Toronto

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It’s vital that all three levels of government work together to address the housing affordability issue by increasing the supply of housing to meet demands of growth in the GTA for decades to come.

Sustained infrastructure growth requires multi-level government support partnering with private enterprise to foster innovation in procurement and delivery and that the planning approval process is streamlined to avoid increased costs which impact housing affordability.

The cities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe need to actually adopt and implement provincial policies on development densities near transport nodes. Ultimately, the homeowners carry the burden of the increased costs from a lack of land supply, approval delays and development charge increases.

Niall Collins
President, Great Gulf Residential, Toronto

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Canadian economists and politicians have spent the better part of the last decade sighing with relief and sharing kudos for having skirted the U.S. housing crisis. Meanwhile, north of the border, Canadians are on a rollercoaster ride, as a result of government intervention and other factors. We’ve experienced record-high housing prices, record-low interest rates, economic downturns, and domestic speculators and foreign investors pushing people out of their homes because they can’t afford to live there anymore. We’ve seen housing inventory drop, and new development hindered by red tape and mounting development fees.

We need to keep up with housing demand to maintain sustainable housing values. It’s a complex issue with many moving parts.

To Mayor John Tory: Eliminate the municipal Land Transfer Tax, or at the very least, cap it. With Toronto’s ever-increasing property values, this tax is prohibitive in an already unaffordable market. The prospect of having to pay double LTT is deterring some move-up buyers from listing their homes, further straining the already low housing supply. How do you intend to stimulate housing market activity?

To Premier Doug Ford: Domestic and foreign immigration to Ontario is critical to a healthy economy, but as you work to continue attracting the biggest and best businesses to the province, where will you house the employees and their families? Housing supply is critically low, with developers stuck behind red tape and buried under development fees, preventing them from building the homes Ontarians so desperately need.

To Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: Canada needs a National Housing Strategy that addresses inventory and affordability in our cities. Many Canadians, especially Millennials, new immigrants and those employed in the so-called “gig economy” feel homeownership is becoming less tangible by the day. While politicians of all stripes acknowledge the mounting urgency of affordable housing, few are offering any timely or compelling solutions. Focus on creating supply and affordability in a sustainable way, instead of continuing to support corrective measures that have constrained Canadians from participating in the economically beneficial practice of homeownership.

Christopher Alexander
Executive Vice-President and Regional Director, ReMax of Ontario- Atlantic Canada

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Local Focus: Oshawa & Whitby

Is Oshawa & Whitby the next hot new destination?

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Is Oshawa & Whitby the next hot new destination?

As prospective homebuyers have looked outside the Toronto core in search of more affordable lowrise homes in recent years, most of them have headed to Hamilton, Burlington, Milton and other points west.

This migration may soon change.

“The west end of the GTA has a greater diversity of communities that are attracting a diverse range of buyers,” Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada, told HOMES Magazine earlier this year. “In the past 10 years, there has been significant focus on the growth and development of these regions, whereas historically, Durham has not traditionally been viewed in this same regard. With the boom in areas towards the east, like Prince Edward County, and the affordability leveling out, we will likely see the tide begin to turn.”

So, there you go, homebuyers – keep an eye on Whitby, Oshawa and other parts of Durham Region.

Economic diversity

And don’t let any potential uncertainty over General Motors Canada’s announcement late last year that it would close its Oshawa assembly plant. Oshawa, and other points in Durham, are about a lot more than one company.

“(The) employment sector in Oshawa has been shifting for some time, and Oshawa has healthily diversified to add technology, educational institutions, healthcare, administration and many professionals to its offerings of great jobs and companies in the market,” says Christian Huggett, vice-president, development, at Podium Developments. The company has a number of townhome developments in the city.

“(The GM news) not altered our plans,” he says. “We continue to believe that the outlook is bright for home sales in North Oshawa, buoyed by its proximity and relationship to schools, the 407 network, the significant growth occurring and planned for North Oshawa.”

ALSO READ: What we can learn from the looming GM closure in Oshawa

Location just east of Toronto along Hwy. 401 is among the reasons Whitby and Oshawa draw attention. With Whitby just 59 kms from Toronto and Oshawa 62, commuting is a real option – particularly with recent GO Transit improvements and the expansion of Hwy. 407.

Durham Region Transit connects with the other cities in the region, including Pickering, Ajax, Clarington, Brock and Uxbridge. The 401 runs through the south of region, Hwy. 7 runs across its northern edge and the Hwy. 407 extension to Hwys. 35 and 115 across the top of Durham Region.

Translation? Getting to, from and around Durham is getting increasingly easy, which makes living here and working elsewhere a real possibility.

Expanding attractions

As with any growing municipality, Whitby and Oshawa also offer expanding amenity and retail options. The Oshawa Centre, for example, is the largest shopping complex in Durham and is home to more than 230 outlets. And in downtown Oshawa, of course, there’s a variety of unique shops and restaurants.

In Whitby, Pearson Lane is a historical development that houses boutiques, cafes and services.

Nature is also front and centre, as Oshawa is home to wildlife preserves such as the Pumphouse Marsh, Second Marsh and McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve. Oshawa Botanical Gardens boasts North America’s largest contemporary peony collection.

In Whitby, more than 100 parks more than 60 kilometres of trails, including the Bio-Diversity Trail, the Cullen Central Park Trails, Otter Creek Trail and the Whitby Shores Waterfront Trail, await residents. The 670-acre Lynde Shores Conservation area is known for its wildlife and provides habitat for nesting birds.

Location, location, location

  • Located east of Toronto in York Region, Durham forms the east end of the GTA. Whitby 59 km from Toronto, Oshawa 62 km. Durham population 645,862; Oshawa 159,458; Whitby 128,377.

Key landmarks

  • Lynde Shores Conservation Area
  • Oshawa Botanical Gardens
  • Oshawa Centre
  • Tribute Communities Centre

Select housing developments

OSHAWA

Eastmore Village by Delpark Homes

Ironwood by Podium Developments

O North Urban Towns by Greycrest Homes

Symphony Towns by Marlin Spring

Winchester Estates by Menkes Developments

WHITBY

Park Vista by Paradise Developments

Park Vista by Fieldgate Homes

Station No. 3 by Brookfield Residential

The Hamptons at Country Lane by Heathwood Homes


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Oshawa housing to move into buyers’ market thanks to GM closure

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Oshawa housing to move into buyers’ market thanks to GM closure

House web

In one fell swoop, General Motors Canada’s announcement on Nov. 25 that it plans to close all assembly operations in Oshawa, Ont. effectively has pushed housing there into a buyers’ market.

“The announced General Motors plant closure will certainly impact Oshawa, and the trickle-down effect will be felt across the province,” Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director, ReMax Integra of Ontario-Atlantic Region, told Homes Publishing.

“However, it’s important to remember that GM isn’t the economic driver that it used to be in Durham Region. The area boasts a growing education sector and a new casino is slated to open in 2019, which will boost new condo development and housing demand. With the rise of remote work and no relief expected for Toronto house prices in 2019, Oshawa will continue to be a popular choice with first-time and move-up buyers who have been priced out of the 416.”

There you have it, prospective home buyers.

Opportunity knocks

While such a major employment hit is hardly an occasion to celebrate, these developments could mean opportunity for those looking to buy a home.

“The fact is that more than 2,500 GM workers will be left in the lurch come 2020, and the looming loss of income will likely prompt a softening of the market at a local level, as existing residents and prospective homebuyers digest the news and what it might mean for them,” says Alexander. “This coming closure, coupled with further interest rate increases in 2019, is likely to trigger a market shift from the current balanced territory, as homebuyers delay purchases, scale down lower-priced properties or move away in search of employment.”

Also read: What the GM plant closure means for Oshawa economy and housing

Also read: Focus on Whitby and Oshawa

Another real estate expert, Don R. Campbell, says the impact of the closure could take 18 to 24 months to play out fully in the region.

Diversified economy

Thankfully, there is more going for Oshawa and the Durham Region than just General Motors. Though it was once described as the “Automotive Capital of Canada,” in recent years the economy has diversified into education and health sciences. The University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Durham College and Trent University Durham and all have campuses in the city, among other economy-boosting facilities.

Indeed, in its latest Metropolitan Outlook, the Conference Board of Canada pegged Oshawa to be one of the strongest economies in the province for 2018. The Board forecast real GDP growth of 2.6 per cent this year, following 3.2 per cent in the last two years, citing strength in the non-residential construction, education, health care, finance and insurance sectors.

In addition, Statistics Canada figures show that Oshawa was one of the fastest growing cities in Ontario from 2011 to 2016, with 6.6 per cent population growth, second only to Guelph at 7.7 per cent. This, after growing 7.7 per cent from 2006 to 2011.

Importantly, for prospective home buyers, transportation improvements such as expanded GO Transit and the Hwy. 407 extension make it easier for people to live in Oshawa – at cheaper home prices – and commute to work in other areas such as Toronto. Another extension of the 407 eastward to neighbouring Clarington is due for 2020, further easing transportation options.

New home opportunities

Tomorrow, we’ll explore some of the opportunities to buy new homes in the Durham Region.

 

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