When it comes to GTA real estate and Canada as a whole, is Oshawa primed to become one of the hottest housing markets amid a pandemic?

The city recently made national headlines after Statistics Canada reported in January that Oshawa is one of the country’s fastest-growing areas. Over the past year, its population has increased more than two per cent, receiving an influx of more than 10,000 new residents. The primary factor driving this growth is that many Toronto households are searching for larger homes at a lower price than what they would find in the major urban centre.

For years this “bedroom community” on the eastern edge of the GTA avoided the spotlight, but is now rather quickly pushing its way to the top as a popular destination for families, young couples and real estate investors. It was only a matter of time, says Mayor Dan Carter.

“I think our day has come and I think we’ve been building towards this for some time. We’re affordable, we’re a safe city. We have great amenities here. We’ve got unbelievable post-education,” Mayor Carter said in a statement. “They’re seeing that they want to have a different experience in their life. They want to have more space, they want to be outside and enjoy the green space.”

Has this translated into a more lucrative housing market? Despite having one of Ontario’s most affordable real estate sectors, Oshawa has seen incredible growth over the last year. But did Oshawa start 2021 with the same level of momentum? And, if it did, can the city sustain it in 2021?

GTA Real Estate: A Peek Inside the Booming Oshawa Housing Market

The Oshawa real estate market has been off to an impressive start in 2021, looking to build upon the momentum from the sudden population boom.

According to this January market data, residential sales rose 17 per cent from the same time a year ago, to 213 units. The average price for a home in Oshawa was $649,000 in January, rising 16.7 per cent year-over-year. Here is the average price by home type:

  • Detached: $832,217
  • Townhouse: $672,528
  • Condo Apartment: $373,506

Despite the COVID-19 public health crisis and the province’s decision to lockdown Ontario close to a year ago, the local Oshawa real estate industry has remained robust, with the average listing remaining on the market for only 10 days.

“The strong demand during the spring market pushed a fast recovery for Durham’s housing market. Record residential sales were reported on a monthly basis,” said Michael Watson, the president of the Durham Region Association of REALTORS® (DRAR), in a news release. “Digital marketing tools and virtual open houses allowed for safe interactions as the demand for homeownership remained strong. Low borrowing costs will continue to fuel the housing market recovery.”

Industry observers are now focusing on active listings and housing starts to better measure Oshawa’s inventory levels. In January, there were 72 active listings. Housing starts also swelled considerably last year, soaring 56 per cent to 2,666 in 2020.

It was also recently reported that new subdivisions are currently under construction, and additional land had been approved for subdivision development. Oshawa is in a position to meet the needs of the market; something that many smaller towns or rural communities were unable to do over the last several months as out-of-town buyers flooded the markets, scooping up the limited inventory of properties.

Oshawa and Durham Region in 2021

The broader Durham Region housing market is poised to record strong numbers over the next 12 months as the relocation from urban areas continues.

According to the RE/MAX outlook for Durham residential real estate in 2021, experts anticipated a three-per-cent increase in the average price to $717,241 across all property types, with housing demand on track to outpace supply levels. Move-over buyers are expected to drive demand in the area, concentrating their home-buying efforts on two-storey detached houses and townhomes. Oshawa is expected to be the most in-demand municipality in Durham, followed by Clarington and Whitby.

In addition to ultra-low borrowing costs from near-zero interest rates laid out by the Bank of Canada (BoC), the Oshawa housing market will be supported by other notable factors. These include the return of immigration, work-from-home policies and mandates, and expanding infrastructure in the region.

Aside from the economic factors increasing the appeal of this GTA city, Oshawa possesses an abundance of sights, sounds and flavours that are luring homebuyers from outside the city. The Canadian Automotive Museum, the Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens, the Ontario Regiment RCAC Museum, the Darlington Provincial Park, and the Oshawa Zoo serve as some of the larger attractions, but the downtown strip is also garnering some attention. Gastro-pubs and foodie hot-spots are slowly transforming Oshawa’s downtown core, as well as surrounding the recently expanded Oshawa Centre, which has for years served as the Durham Region’s premiere shopping destination.

Oshawa has everything most consumers would want: nearby amenities, excellent sights and sounds, growing infrastructure, and a rebounding economy. Only about an hour outside of Toronto, by GO train or car, it is understandable why Oshawa is becoming an attractive place to plant roots. But if it is impressive now, then one can only imagine what Oshawa will be like 10 years from now as the city shows promising signs of evolving and expanding to keep up with demand.