Home prices in northeastern Ontario have reached record highs, with real estate agents in Timmins reporting a 16% increase in the average home price so far in 2022, compared to last year.
The average home now costs about $247,000, according to the Timmins Cochrane and Timiskaming Association of Realtors, compared to $217,000 in 2021.
The main culprit, association president Angela Hunter said, is a lack of vendors and new construction.
“The other day there were only 38 homes on the market in Timmins,” Hunter said in an interview, citing a 30% supply shortfall.
“There are more realtors in Timmins than there are homes for sale. So if you’re looking to buy, you need to be aggressive.
Hunter said aggressive buyers are also contributing to rising home prices.
Southern Ontarians are making extra money from the sale of their homes and bidding cash on “budget” homes in the north, she said, while local buyers are making higher bids to ensure they get the homes they want.
OUT-OF-MARKET BUYER PRICES
That makes it difficult for people like Lisa Auger-Labelle, who is raising a toddler and currently lives in a low-income neighborhood. She said she had spent about a year looking for a home, but hadn’t come across one in her price range and had struggled to get responses from sellers.
Meanwhile, Auger-Labelle said she moved apartments trying to find a neighborhood she felt safe – and said owning hers would make her feel safer.
“Nobody has a house here, so everyone is breaking in just to live. So I’m looking for a house, instead of constantly moving, but it seems to be very difficult,” she said.
The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) says the situation where home buyers are being driven out of their local markets is happening across the province.
Association CEO Tim Hudak says the notion of ‘driving until you qualify (for a house)’ is falling out of favor, citing 10 districts outside the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) that see housing prices approaching or exceeding $1 million.
He said it was becoming increasingly difficult for people to buy properties in their hometowns, including in northeastern Ontario.
“It’s time to start building again, especially for first-time home buyers,” Hudak said in an interview, noting housing supply was the most pressing issue.
“The key to affordability, unlocking those keys for a new owner: more choice, more affordability, more supply in big cities, north and small towns.”
OREA is calling on political leaders to make this an election issue and, in particular, to incorporate solutions such as higher land transfer tax refunds for first-time buyers, relaxing zoning rules for more homes in multi-unit and townhouse homes, as well as cracking down on real estate-based money laundering.
“THE ONLY THING I CAN ALLOW IS TO LEAVE TOWN”
Although Hunter said the north is seeing some homes priced at $1 million and above, that’s unlikely to become the norm in the coming years.
Although the best way to avoid any further housing upside, she said, is to create more supply. And she said the area has a lot of land for that.
“It has to do with … what the population can handle in this area, in terms of employment,” Hunter said, alluding to the labor shortage in the area.
For people worried that they might be overpriced in their local market, Hunter said the best thing to do is either settle for real estate that might not be the ideal choice, or go for it. saving for a favorite home that may have gone up in price over the years.
For Auger-Labelle, she estimates it will likely take about five years to get the type of home she needs, but said that doesn’t bode well for the near future.
“The only thing I can afford is to leave town, pretty much,” she said.