There is no doubt that real estate is a hot topic of conversation in communities across the GTA and across the nation.
Prices have soared to record levels while supply levels have dwindled to levels not seen in many years in many places including Durham Region.
Durham Region has become a hotbed of real estate activity in the last few years, outperforming the Greater Toronto Area and most other areas in Canada.
That trend is likely to continue moving forward, and this article will lay out a number of keys to what to watch for in Durham.
1. Durham Prices are the Lowest in the GTA
The above chart shows the average selling price for detached homes in December of 2021. Clearly, Durham homes are sellling for well below the average in all of the other major regions in the GTA.
The completion of a number of major projects have helped make Durham Region a more attractive consideration for families looking to settle.
Among the most important ones that have improved the ability for people to move around the region, or to commute to the city, are the completion of the provincially owned eastern section of highway 407, which runs from Brock Road in Pickering all the way to Highway 115 near Orono.
The north-south arteries connecting the 407 to highway 401 are highway 412 west of Whitby and highway 418 east of Courtice.
Other improvements include upgraded, dedicated bus transit links in Pickering and Ajax, with plans to expand through Whitby and Oshawa.
Another massive project is the expansion of the Darlington nuclear power facility and OPG headquarters project east of Bowmanville. This project not only will provide power for the population growth of the region, but also very good, local jobs.
Over the next few years, Canada has set targets of welcoming over 400,000 new immigrants every year. Historically, the lion's share of those new residents come to the GTA (along with Vancouver and Montreal).
Most of these newcomers arrive with education or skilled trades, and many of the ones coming to the GTA will initially aim to settle in Toronto.
With the current combination of scarcity of housing and the relatively high costs of housing in Toronto, many may be forced to consider outlying areas, of which Durham is one of the most attractive alternatives.
If they do find housing in the city, often they start with either a rental apartment or condominium, and look to relocate as their family situation makes a low-rise home more attractive. Again, Durham is a prime destination given the combination of cost and other factors.
4. GO Train Service Expansion
Currently, GO train service runs eastward to the Oshawa station east of Thickson Road, south of highway 401.
An expansion of service has been approved to bring 4 new stations and service as far east as Bowmanville. The project is set to include two new stations in Oshawa, one in Courtice and another in Bowmanville.
These new service offerings will make for a lot of building activity near the new stations, especially for high density options, including high rise condos and apartments.
It will also make housing options in eastern and northern Clarington more attractive to those contemplating commuting options that are within reach of the new stations.
5. New Building Projects
Lack of supply of new homes has been a focal point for the imbalance between buyer demand and competition for existing homes for sale.
The Covid-19 pandemic couldn't have come at a worse time to stifle both the pace of new home construction, but also the availability and cost of both materials and labour.
While new construction has resumed, those constraints have endured, with additional pressure brought on by health restrictions forcing limited numbers of trades being able to work within projects at the same time.
Expect the pace of new builds to pick up sharply once the pandemic winds down. A large number of projects are planned near the Taunton road corridor across the region. Expect more high-rise builds, especially near GO stations, both existing and planned.
There has been a lot of excitement in Durham Region with the creation of new jobs across many disciplines and categories.
Not only does the creation of good new jobs provide employment options locally, they also reduce the need for local residents to commute to Toronto, which helps to reduce stress on traffic and transit systems.
Among the largest job opportunities recently announced are the following:
Darling Nuclear Station expansion - Clarington
OPG Headquarters - Clarington
General Motors truck assembly - Oshawa
Amazon distribution centre - Ajax
New hospital - Whitby
Durham Live - Pickering
Additionally, new construction and trade jobs for many of the above projects and new housing, infrastructure and commercial projects will also bring jobs to the region.
Durham Region provides many offerings to contribute to a great lifestyle, with a wide diversity of trail systems, including the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail which runs through many Durham cities.
There are many conservation areas, provincial parks, forests and parks.
Additionally, there are many local attractions, ranging from the new Thermea Spa in Whitby to the Jungle Cat World in Orono and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park north of Bowmanville.
Education is also a prime draw, with Ontario Tech University, Trent University and Durham College.
There are so many factors that contribute to the growth of the Durham Region real estate market, it is easy to overlook many of them.
It is also noteworthy to consider what might contribute to a downturn of the market. Should a large increase in interest rates happen, it would affect not only the local market, but also affect the market overall. Such an increase would make mortgage qualification more difficult, but would also affect other areas, like car loans and lines of credit.
A large recession would also create havoc on the market, but again it would also affect other areas. We are in much better shape in Durham with the diversity of industry now than we were a few decades ago, when the automotive industry was the dominant employer.
As the closure of General Motors in Oshawa in 2019 was painful to the local job market, it did not have a negative effect on the local housing market. When the automotive industry diminished in the 1980s and 90s, the effects were much more impactful locally.
One area that concerns me is the potential for government intervention in the market. The actions that the provincial and federal governments took in the spring of 2017 were made with little notice and brought harm to a lot of families that were caught up in the effects.
There are many areas driving the hot market in Durham Region, and very little to indicate that growth will not continue in the immediate and near future.
If you are considering either a sale or purchase of a home in the near future, please reach out anytime for a free consultation.