The housing market has spent the better part of the last twelve months heating up, catching fire, and then boiling over. And activity has spread well beyond large urban centres.

While Toronto has seen steady housing price gains prior to the pandemic, extreme price increases and activity growth normally seen in Canada's largest city are now increasingly showing up in smaller communities further away from the downtown core.

Though, that housing strength has pushed past our Canadian borders and is becoming more pronounced in smaller US housing markets as well, with 18 cities seeing year-over-year double-digit price growth, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index.

These increases have now garnered attention from Douglas Porter, Chief Economist with BMO, who wrote a research note on this trend and how it compares to Canada.

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"Just to give a sense as to how widespread the housing strength is, prices in Cleveland are now up 12.5% year-over-year. That might not be the fastest increase among large US cities -- and 18 of 20 in the Case-Shiller survey are up double-digits," said Porter.

"But, that's a faster rise than anything seen in Cleveland, including the prior housing boom around 2005 (which largely bypassed northern Ohio."

Porter says while this is "no doubt impressive," he pointed to the robust housing activity happening just on the other side of Lake Erie.

"Prices in St. Thomas and its bigger northern neighbour, London, have surged more than 43% year-over-year. That translates into a rise of more than $190,000 in the past year."

According to Porter, prices in London and St. Thomas haven't risen this much in the three decades of the 1980s, the 1990s, and 2000s... combined.

Housing activity is also up in London and St. Thomas, with 1,296 properties exchanging hands in March -- an increase of over 56% year-over-year. The total sales are also the highest recorded for the month of March since the region's real estate association started tracking data in 1978, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

Low supply and high demand continue to affect the average sales price across the major areas of London and St. Thomas, with average prices reaching $634,799 in March -- a 43.2% year-over-year increase, while median prices hit $600,000, a 42.9% year-over-year increase.

Single-family homes were the most popular housing type sold in March, with 941 sales -- a 57.4% year-over-year increase.

"We've experienced a very robust start to the first quarter of 2021, with the seventh consecutive month of record sales," said London and St. Thomas Association of Realtors President Jack Lane.

"Three months into the year, there have been 2,671 sales, up more than 30% over the same period last year."