Toronto is a business hub in Ontario, meaning many people live directly in the 416 or as close as possible, to reduce commute time to and from the office. However, the trade-off for what was once considered to be a more efficient location, is the steep cost of urban housing. But times have changed a great deal in the last 12 months, and what was once considered “convenient” has become a burden thanks to the impact of COVID-19, which has been roaring through Ontario since March 2020. A vast number of office workers are now working remotely from home, no longer committed to their daily commute to and from their downtown office headquarters. It also means people are spending more time at home, yearning for more space to accommodate home work, learning, exercise, play and entertainment, all under the same roof. This change of lifestyle has led many people away from Toronto and its surrounding areas, further toward smaller cities and suburban hubs that still offer access to big-city amenities within an hour’s drive. Durham Region real estate fits this bill, and accordingly, it’s on fire.

Durham Region Climbs in Popularity Among GTA Homebuyers

Durham Region sits within an hour’s drive east of the city of Toronto, making it an ideal destination for those looking for more space and cheaper housing prices, while maintaining easy access to the big city. Google Trends data reveals that at present, Cannington and Clarington are the most heavily searched regions for Durham Region homebuyers, and this is likely because steep price increases are pushing areas west of the Region – namely Pickering, Ajax, and Whitby- outside the budgets of many buyers.

Perhaps most appealing to buyers coming from Toronto is the amount of space there is to build. Plenty of new single-family homes are being built in Durham Region which is attractive to those coming from Toronto, where the only space to build is up. Buyers are also cognizant of the prices in Durham compared to Toronto – you can get a single detached family home in the region for a similar price that you can expect to pay for a multi residential space or condo in Toronto. This being said, heightened activity is leading the Durham Region to slowly shed its reputation as the affordable destination for hopeful homebuyers.

March 2021 saw 2,076 residential transactions over the Durham Region and an influx of new listings with 2,837 posted. “The number of new listings in Durham Region was up month-over-month with 2,837 reported in Durham Region,” said DRAR President Michael Watson. “The spring market in Durham has arrived early and an influx of new listings on the market is a positive sign with more options for potential buyers.”

The in-demand region, however, is having a hard time keeping supply and demand in check, leading to bidding wars and a steep increase in price for most homes. Durham Region has experienced a steep 185.4% increase in price over the last decade – the second highest increase in the Greater Toronto Area.

Despite the steep percentage increase in cost, average housing prices across the Durham Region remain lower than those west of the GTA. However, in order to keep real estate prices in check, there is a strong need for more supply within these markets. DRAR President Michael Watson continues, “although we are seeing record sales in Durham Region, it is important to note new inventory is imperative in order to maintain a balanced housing market. Buyers are taking advantage of low interest rates and new listings are not staying on the market for long. The desire for homeownership has remained strong and Durham Region continues to be an attractive market place.”

What’s to Come for Durham Region Real Estate

As the year continues and the warmer temperatures roll in, it is expected that demand for housing in areas such as Durham Region will continue to climb. Driven by pandemic-related lifestyle changes, such as remote working arrangements and the consumer appetite for more space (indoors and outdoors), buyers will continue to look outside major cities and towards smaller suburban communities such as those of the Durham Region.

With interest rates currently at an all-time low, and expectations of them rising in the future, many investors and home-buyers are looking to capitalize on the market now. This will only further drive up demand for real estate within Durham, add fuel to current bidding wars, and allow home prices to soar. If you are a prospective buyer hoping to get in on the real estate action within Durham Region’s red-hot markets, ensure that you have a trusted, professional REALTOR® by your side to help you face your fellow home-buying competition with confidence!