The Ontario Home Builders Association releases monthly data on where housing starts are being initiated across Ontario. Data for October shows some interesting patterns. The biggest year to year increases in housing starts were in Barrie, Brantford, and Oshawa, at 114%, 95%, and 78% higher than the January and October starts in 2019. All three of these communities have space for construction, economies that are stable or on the up, and are affordable compared to many of their counterparts in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Other notable mentions where starts increased were Chatham-Kent, North Bay, and Sarnia. While COVID has had a serious impact on Barrie’s economy, the city is still diversified, fairly affordable, and economically resilient.
November sales were up 25% from November 2019 figures. Home prices are also on the up, rising 25% from last year to an average of $672,000. It’s not just detached homes that are driving the positive figures, sales of condos, apartments, and townhomes are also increasing in the City by double digits. Realtors and urban planning experts are optimistic over the long term, as Barrie has plenty of space in its downtown core and is largely a suburban city. The sprawl and dense road network of Barrie means there are plenty of opportunities for densification, condo construction, and further low rise development. The strength of the city’s economy and real estate market is transmitting to its exurbs and surrounding communities of Orillia and Innisfil, where development and construction continues to boom.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, builders keep planning massive new condos along Yonge Street in Toronto. The latest design is a 55 storey tower on the corner of Yonge and Wellesley that will house a ‘light box’, and that will have slanting, symmetrical designs and a brown steel outer shell to distinguish it from other towers in the area. Other condos in and around Yonge and Wellesley will be set to have Asian styled architectural designs to cater to their clientele and to increase their novelty. While Toronto’s condo market has taken a hit from lessened demand, people moving to the suburbs, and less international traffic, the effect of these challenges has helped to add some normality to the rental market by increasing supply and lowering rents. Also, builders will be more disciplined in their financing, design strategies, and risk taking given the volatility brought on by COVID.