Known for its beautiful Lake Ontario views and luxury homes, Oakville has had a strong housing market for years and continues to be an ideal location for buyers either looking to scale up or move out of the Toronto area.
Located just under 40-minutes west of downtown (on a good traffic day), this suburban market was set to have balanced conditions heading into 2020, with an expected 5% increase in housing prices, according to the RE/MAX 2020 Housing Market Outlook Report.
But as the COVID pandemic began to unfold, activity in Oakville's housing market began to cool, as the Canadian economy came to a near halt as stay-at-home and social distancing measures were enacted.
Yet, as the pandemic continued through the spring, the Canadian real estate industry, including realtors across Ontario and in Oakville, showed flexibility by taking a more digital approach to the industry by showing houses, signing papers, and interacting with clients virtually.
In fact, the Oakville, Milton and District Real Estate Board (OMDREB) was the first board in Ontario to temporarily suspend all open houses, in line with recommendations from health authorities.
Like most housing markets, Oakville real estate experienced declines during the pandemic period, however, the market has also shown resiliency, by staying active despite lockdown measures.
In a new report, RE/MAX has taken a deeper look at this suburban housing market and how the pandemic has impacted it and what's to come in the months ahead.
According to the OMDREB, as the coronavirus made its way through the region over the course of February and March, Oakville’s housing market continued to thrive.
"Across both Milton and Oakville, both months saw an upward growth in sales activity. The impact of social distancing measures and business closures that were imposed on March 13, only started to show in April," reads the RE/MAX report.
In April, the Oakville housing market – just like other surrounding areas – experienced a drop in activity with 289 homes sold across the region, compared to 761 units sold in April 2019. The decrease in sales was accompanied by a drop in new listings hitting the market, with 559 new listings, down from 1,347 over the same period last year.
However, despite these low numbers, OMDREB President Richard Weima commented in the Board’s most recent market report, that as a whole, Oakville’s market continues to see action. “Ultimately, some areas along with certain home types have been more impacted than others,” Weima noted.
While Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is predicting that home prices across Canada could potentially drop between 9 and 18% in the coming months, RE/MAX says Oakville’s market has shown that average sale prices are holding strong throughout the pandemic period. By the end of April, the average price of a home in Oakville was up to $1,251,124, a more than 10% increase from last year’s average of $1,129,093.
OMDREB's latest report, released on June 5 and covering the month of May, found that the average sale price for a home in Oakville had moved up to $1,441,096 in May 2020, up 8% from $1,334,898 in May 2019.
"The numbers show that with this major reduction of new listing supply, there was sufficient buyer interest to move our property values higher. However, with an easing back to business coupled with the lowest mortgage interest rates in years, we will see sales numbers eventually start to improve when an increased supply of listed properties hit the market."
According to RE/MAX, agents in the area are starting to resume appointments, selling units, and seeing multiple-offer scenarios. And with the province gearing up to enter into Stage 2 of reopening the economy, RE/MAX suggests an increasing number of sidelined buyers are expected to return to the market.
Weima says the stability of prices within the region’s market is a great sign for sellers who held off selling during the pandemic. “The pandemic has not changed the value of your property, which is a major benefit. If you are thinking of selling your home, keep a close eye on the market going forward. When it begins to rebound closer to the end of the year, use the minimal listing inventory to your advantage.”
According to RE/MAX, this indicates that "not only has COVID failed in softening the average price of an Oakville home, but it has also not impacted the market’s potential to continue on this upward trajectory and end 2020 on a higher-priced note." And as RE/MAX suggests, Oakville is expected to remain a high-priced sellers’ market for the foreseeable future.
Given the unpredictability of the virus, the future of the economy and the real estate landscape in the coming months both remain unclear. However, Oakville seems to be proving that the demand for housing is strong and can help contribute to the recovery of the market.