Outlook 2013

Location, location, location is everything in real estate. But what exactly does this mean? Sure, it refers to where your home of choice is in your neighbourhood, vis-à-vis proximity to schools, shopping, transportation, nature, neighbours and all the other amenities and features you desire.

In Southwestern Ontario, the options for location mean even more, given the variety of markets that comprise the region. Indeed, the beauty of this area is that it’s made up of so many different locales — from Hamilton to London to Kitchener-Waterloo to Niagara. Though all combine to make up part of the “Ontario” market, which is part of the “Canadian” market, they are all individual markets in their own right, with distinct local economies, employment pictures and other important influences. One of the characteristic differences of SWO over the GTA, for example, is the region’s heavier reliance on a manufacturing economy. As the U.S. recovery strengthens into the second half of 2013, north and Southwestern Ontario are expected to be among the chief beneficiaries. And, of course, SWO also has the benefit of lower average home prices. In Hamilton, for example, average prices are about $150,000 lower than in Toronto. Here, then, is a look at some of the markets, highlights and opportunities in Southwestern Ontario, from the latest 2013 Housing Outlook Reports from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) and other information.

Hamilton: Humming along

Housing demand in the Hamilton Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) will remain stable through 2013, as improving economic conditions and higher net migration will support housing demand in the area, according to Abdul Kargbo, CMHC’s senior market analyst for Hamilton. “Steady in-migration from the GTA will continue to support housing demand in Hamilton,” says Kargbo. “A gradual improvement in job and income growth during the latter part of next year, combined with modest price increases, should support Hamilton resale activity by the second half of 2013.” “Larger urban Ontario centres have been capturing a growing share of housing activity in recent years. A gradual shift in housing activity is expected as smaller urban housing markets hold up relatively better in 2013,” says Ted Tsiakopoulos, CMHC’s Ontario regional economist.  Net migration into Hamilton doubled in 2011 from the recession levels of 2008, and totalled more than 19,500 over the last four years, as people were attracted to the improving job market. Such factors will support housing demand by the second half of 2013.

Hamilton highlights

» Average price difference from Toronto to Hamilton: more than $150,000
» Steady in-migration from GTA to support housing
» First-time homebuyers to lead recovery
» Dundas, Hamilton East and Hamilton Centre to see modest gains in 2013
» Glanbrook and Stoney Creek to see higher demand for condominiums and townhouses
» Unemployment rate forecast to be 6.6 per cent in 2013, down from 6.8 per cent in 2012

St. Catharines-Niagara: On the Highrise

Underlining the point about how SWO markets can differ from one another, the economy in St. Catharines-Niagara also is influenced by what happens in the U.S. — but for very different reasons than, say, London. St. Catharines-Niagara depends more on U.S. tourism and imports, CMHC says, so expect the area to improve further as the recovery south of the border gains more traction. Employment was to increase significantly by end of 2012, due to growth in the service sectors, and will grow moderately in 2013. Retail and transportation jobs, which experienced a decline this year, will lead the charge in the second half of 2013, in lockstep with the U.S. recovery. In terms of housing types, higher-density has been the trend in this region for the last few years, and will continue to be the focus moving forward, particularly as the population in Niagara ages. In 2013, housing starts in condo apartments to cater to this demand will lead the growth, up 33 per cent, though from a small base. Single-detached starts will also rise very slightly by 0.9 per cent; lower prices of this housing type in St. Catharines-Niagara allow younger first-time buyers to get into this market.

St. Catharines-Niagara highlights

» Condo starts to rise 33 per cent in 2013
» Single-detached starts to rise 0.9 per cent in 2013
» Unemployment rate 7.7 per cent in 2013, down from 8.0 per cent in 2012

(Reprinted with permission from New Home & Condo Guide)

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