Located just under an hour east of Toronto you'll find Oshawa: the largest community in the Durham Region and a major contributor to the Southern Ontario economy.
However, the state of the Oshawa economy has been under pressure for the last couple of years, particularly its automobile sector. As you could imagine, these conditions were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which brought an abrupt pause to the regional economy.
As rising housing costs and lack of space continue to be issues in Toronto, young buyers, including millennials and Generation Xers, are looking outside of the big city and are turning to smaller cities like Oshawa, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board’s Market Year in Review & Outlook Report 2020,
Why you might ask? According to RE/MAX, the percentage of monthly income required to buy a home in Oshawa is approximately half of what it is in Toronto — which may be enough of an incentive to move east all on its own. What's more, when you factor in future employment growth trends in the area, such as health care, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity, Oshawa is on track to be an important economic engine in the province.
Another aspect that makes Oshawa so appealing is that the housing market was experiencing a surge in the months leading up to the pandemic. According to RE/MAX, from November to the beginning of March, the average sold price for all properties – detached, townhouse, and condo – spiked more than 12%.
Of course, housing prices experienced a slight correction in light of the pandemic, but now that the province is reopening, RE/MAX says the latest numbers are pointing to a steep rebound.
Zain Jafrey, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker says, the Durham Region experienced a big increase in activity from May to June of 2020. "As the government announced dates for reopening of the province in late May, home buyers and sellers began to feel more comfortable with the idea of buying and selling their homes."
In June, Oshawa housing prices advanced, with the average price for homes in Durham Region reaching $685,655 – a 10% increase year-over-year, and up 5% month-over-month. What's more, according to the Durham Region Association of Realtors, transactions in June were up 66% month-over-month, with 1,281 changing hands. New listings were also up 63% to 1,857.
Jafrey says it's important to also take into consideration that there wasn’t much inventory in the market during COVID, to begin with. "Only people who needed to buy or needed to sell were transacting. However, with the government unveiling their reopening plan, interested parties became more comfortable with buying and selling which contributed to the 63% increase in new listings, and the 66% increase in transactions."
"Even now, inventory is low when compared to the number of buyers looking to purchase a home in the Durham Region. Properties that are listed on the market are selling very quickly and in multiple offers," says Jafrey.
"I am starting to see an increase in listing activity on a daily basis, and I do suspect that we will be seeing an increase in inventory in the upcoming weeks as people begin to reevaluate their living needs. At the same time, I do suspect demand will continue to outweigh supply as we see a transition of people moving from Toronto into Durham."
So, for those looking for more affordable housing options, Oshawa should definitely be considered, because, despite the slow but steady growth in housing prices amid lower inventories, the city continues to rank in the top 10 of Canada’s most affordable cities, beating out Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Victoria.