Is Ontario’s cottage country still booming? The future of small towns and rural communities in the country’s most populous province is a bit of a question mark, now that the economy is reopening and offices are welcoming their employees back to the workplace. This means that some workers are returning to where their jobs are; namely Ontario’s urban hubs, such as Toronto and Ottawa. Will they make the commute or move back to these major urban centers? While it might be too early to determine if the gradual decline in the work-from-home trend will impact homebuying destinations like the Grey Bruce Owen Sound real estate market, this has been a discussion point among industry observers in recent months. The province is achieving some semblance of normalcy on the other side of the coronavirus pandemic, which is excellent news for the broader economy. But what about the housing market?

The Canadian real estate market is showing signs of easing, but it is the smaller markets that might garner more attention since they enjoyed unprecedented monster growth during the global health crisis. So, how did Grey Bruce Owen Sound real estate perform at the height of summer? The temperatures may have been soaring, but sales activity cooled down in this cottage-country market.

Sales Drop but Prices Soar in Grey Bruce Owen Sound Real Estate Market

According to the REALTORS® Association of Grey Bruce Owen Sound (RAGBOS), residential sales tumbled at an annualized rate of 27.7 per cent in July, totaling 327 units. Year-to-date, real estate transactions have increased 23.6 per cent from the same time a year ago, clocking in at 2,180 units.

On a long-term basis for the month of July, home sales were 5.2 per cent below the five-year average, but 1.6 per cent above the decade average.

But while demand may have eased at the height of summer, prices continued to surge in the double digits throughout the Grey Bruce Owen Sound real estate market. MLS® Home Price Index (HPI), which is considered more accurate than average or median price measurements, advanced 40.3 per cent year-over-year to $518.500. With that being said, the average price of homes sold in July climbed at an annualized rate of 30.5 per cent to $628,341.

Here is a breakdown of how the main property types performed:

  • Single-Family Home: +40.9% year-over-year to $521,500
  • Townhome / Row Units: +28.9% to $425,500
  • Apartments: +21% to $309,000

“Obviously things are still selling, but we are seeing prices kind of calm down and we are seeing things level out,” said RAGBOS president Brett Parker in a statement. “Demand is still high and supply is still low, but I think we are seeing things calm down as far as price fluctuations.”

Supply remains a crucial issue for the overall Canadian real estate market. Indeed, it seems that the Grey Bruce Owen Sound housing sector is enduring shrinking supplies.

In July, active residential listings fell 21.3 per cent from the end of July 2020 to 584 units. New residential listings declined 10.4 per cent to 397 units. Active listings were 38.4 per cent below the five-year average, while new listings were 8.7 per cent below the five-year average.

Months of inventory, a measurement of how long it would take to exhaust current inventories at the present rate of sales, was 1.8 at the end of July, up from 1.6 months in the previous year, but still well below the tlong-run average of 5.8 months.

But fresh supply is coming online, especially when compared to 2020 levels. According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), housing starts totalled 56 in the second quarter, up from six in the April-to-July period of last year. In the first seven months of 2021, housing starts totalled 70.

“We are just not getting new stuff on the market quickly enough. That is new builds and rental property,” added Parker. “They can only build new stuff so fast. Demand for good quality housing is still high so the inventory is quite low.”

Still the Best Real Estate Market to Buy a Home?

Despite the surging real estate prices, MoneySense, a Canadian digital personal finance magazine, still believes that Grey Bruce and Owen Sound are the best cities in the entire country to purchase real estate. According to the online publication, Grey Bruce Owen Sound was ranked eighth nationwide, citing the fine balance between housing affordability and property appreciation.

The municipality was elated by the news, noting that officials will remain committed to the city’s growth this year and in the future.

“I am excited to see that Owen Sound ranked eighth in all of Canada as one of the best places to buy real estate in 2021,” said Mayor Ian Boddy in an announcement. “Council, the City Manager, and staff have worked hard to let people know that we are a welcoming and inclusive community. With the Pandemic, people have learned that they no longer need to live where they work, but can choose to live in an affordable, safe, and charming location like Owen Sound. We are a city that is committed to growth while maintaining an incredible quality of life.”

If professionals and young families can continue to work from home or find employment opportunities elsewhere, one of the best destinations to achieve that coveted work-life balance at a reasonable price could be Grey Bruce Owen Sound.