A once-in-a-generation pandemic is turning Canadians off city life.
Nearly a third of Canadians (32%) say they no longer want to live in an urban centre, according to a new survey from Remax Realty.
The COVID Factor
Part of the reason can be attributed to months of pandemic-induced lockdown. It‘s given buyers a new appreciation for greater indoor and outdoor living space.
“People are looking for a little more yard, a little more size for a home office and more room where they can be outside to do recreational activities in a safe way," said Cam Forbes with Remax.
Due to the adoption of flexible work-from-home policies by more employers, buyers are less concerned about long commutes.
The Remax findings are supported by recent housing data showing increased demand in markets outside of major metropolitan areas.
Take the GTA, for example. “Now people have a little more flexibility and we've see some real strength in markets outside Toronto, particularly like the Newmarket and Durham areas," Forbes added.
As early as June, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) reported that 67.5% of sales were in the ‘905’ area code just outside of the Toronto, up from 65.4% in March.
In July, new listings soared within the city, but couldn’t keep up with demand in the 905. That put additional pressure on prices in suburban markets. The MLS Home Price Index was up 10% year-over-year in the City of Toronto, but jumped 12% in Durham Region, 14% in Orangeville and 14% in South Simcoe, all areas just north of the city.
The Affordability Factor
While home prices are once again trending higher, there’s still value to be found in smaller markets near major metro areas.
As The DOT explored previously, a homebuyer could save nearly $500,000 on a suburban Toronto property compared to one located closer to downtown. That would result in monthly savings of up to $1,700 on mortgage payments.
For those willing to make the hike into cottage country, properties are up to 60% cheaper. That could result in significant savings—up to $3,800 in monthly mortgage payments, based on average Toronto prices.
“There is incredibly strong demand in the Muskoka area here in Ontario,” Forbes added. “Prices are up substantially, about 20% year-over-year in price gains for recreational properties."
For the foreseeable future, the relative value of outlying areas will continue proving too hard to resist for a growing number of Canadians.