In the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, one of the most talked-about trends in the Canadian real estate market has been households leaving major urban centres and relocating to small towns, suburbs and rural communities. While large cities are still attractive places to live and work, young couples and families have learned the many benefits of living in places just outside of the urban core. If you can work from home, why bother paying rent or buying a home at a premium to live in a metropolitan area that does not possess the same attractions as it did before the COVID-19 public health crisis? A perfect example of an area that has benefited from “move-over buyers” is the York Region housing market.

From historically low interest rates to out-of-town savings, homebuyers can save tens of thousands of dollars and move into a bigger home by living in Georgina, Richmond Hill, Aurora, Markham or Stouffville (while maintaining close proximity to the Toronto core).

That being said, don’t expect to score a real estate deal within these suburban destinations. Many markets in York Region are recording stellar growth – both in terms of sales activity and real estate prices. It is unclear if these are long-term trends or the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. Either way, some interesting patterns have formed across the York Region housing market.

A Closer Look at the Trends Across the York Region Housing Market

Are move-over buyers invading the suburbs? Since the beginning of the real estate boom, move-over buyers have been one of the chief headline makers. These are individuals who are searching for better deals on a new home, even if it forces them to ditch the city and migrate to a smaller town.

The York Region real estate market has witnessed incredible demand for two-storey detached housing from move-over buyers. They are the ones who are scooping up limited inventories and driving up the price of properties across the regional municipality.

As a result, according to the RE/MAX 2021 Market Outlook, the estimated average residential sales price this year is projected to rise 10 per cent to just under $1.15 million. The double-digit increase is primarily due to limited housing stocks, especially in the southern part of York.

Move-up buyers are also playing a crucial role in the growth of the York Region housing market. These are individuals who sell their property in order to buy a more expensive home. In York Region, industry observers noted that homebuyers sold their Toronto houses or condos and headed north for more space and land at a better price. Since remote work has become more common, and families are utilizing their properties as multifunctional spaces in which to live, work, play, learn and exercise, many have been searching for more square footage to accommodate this new normal.

This explains the significant gains in the luxury housing market, with notable increases in sales activity for properties over $1.8 million.

Statistics Canada research found that this urban sprawl has led to substantial home sales gains and housing prices in real estate markets outside of major urban centres. York’s King and Georgina are some of the beneficiaries in this dramatic shift, reporting double-digit percentage growth in home sales over the last 12 months.

Can the York Region Real Estate Market Maintain this Momentum Beyond 2021??

With historically low interest rates here to stay for the foreseeable future, and demand continuing to strengthen, it is likely that the bullish forecasts for York Region’s real estate market will be accurate. But what happens when the pandemic subsides, and the economy returns to normal?

Once the COVID-19 public health crisis is over, some offices will recall workers, post-secondary institutions will resume in-class learning, and the many amenities of big city life will open their doors again. Will this drive homeowners back to the metropolis? At present, it’s hard to make any strong projections, considering the degree of uncertainty of when we’ll officially close the COVID-19 chapter.

If there is one thing that has become apparent over the last year, it is that consumer trends and demand can evolve rather quickly. Industry experts say this is why it is crucial that the province and municipalities further develop public policy that adapts to market demands. Whether this happens in 2021 or 2022 remains to be seen, but the virus outbreak and the subsequent housing boom have given certain areas of Ontario, including the York Region, a renewed economic opportunity.

Real estate markets will always be about priorities, and 2020 highlighted just how much they can shift in the blink of an eye!