The Northern Ontario real estate market has enjoyed its greatest period on record. From the Timmins real estate market, to North Bay and Thunder Bay, this part of the province is witnessing unprecedented growth in both sales activity and prices. Real estate experts have attributed the enormous advancements to the developments in the aftermath of the COVID-19 public health crisis, mainly evolving consumer trends. But can a small, remote community such as Timmins maintain this upward trajectory?

As the Canadian real estate market moves beyond the coronavirus pandemic, there is a lot of uncertainty over the next 12 to 18 months. Will professionals move back to the cities as offices restart in-person operations? Will the Bank of Canada (BoC) be aggressive about interest rate hikes? Will Northern Ontario officials move ahead with growth strategies to keep attracting and retaining newcomers?

Until these questions are answered, the only thing that market analysts can do is comb through the current volume of data and spot interesting trends in the Timmins real estate market. So, what happened at the end of the typically busy spring buying season? Let’s take a peek behind the curtain.

A Peek at the Trends in the Timmins Real Estate Market

According to the Timmins, Cochrane & Timiskaming Districts Association of REALTORS®, residential sales soared 130 per cent year-over-year in May for a total of 207 units. This is a new sales record for both the month of May and any month on record.

On a long-term basis, home sales climbed 57.5 per cent above the five-year average and 59.6 per cent above the decade average for this time of the year. Moreover, year-to-date, property transactions are up 116.3 per cent compared to the same time a year ago.

Home prices climbed to new records in May. The average price of Timmins real estate jumped at an annualised rate of 45 per cent to $232,642. The YTD average price, which industry experts assert is more comprehensive than month-over-month or year-over-year, increased 26.5 per cent to $213,928.

Like other housing markets in the Great White North, supply and demand factors were notable for the Timmins real estate market.

The number of new residential listings rose 13.8 per cent to 190, while active residential listings plummeted 51.8 per cent to 298 units. New listings were 25.3 per cent below the five-year average, and active listings were 60.4 per cent below the five-year average.

The months of inventory clocked in at 1.4 at the end of May, down from 6.9 months last year. This is also under the long-run average of 6.7 months for the month of May. Market analysts hone in on this figure because it represents the number of months it would take to sell present supplies at the current rate of sales activity.

New construction projects were also down from a year ago. In the first quarter, housing starts totaled just two, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This is down from 17 in the January-to-March period of 2020. At the same time, the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board (CDSSAB) has noted that affordable housing is being built in downtown Timmins.

“So it’s a nice little mix of residential and commercial … which the development entity of the CDSSAB is looking for in properties in the downtown area,” said Antoine Vezina, the housing development manager for the agency, in an interview with CTV News. “Just to have a diversity of income and to sustain the residential component of the property.”

“The wait-list at Cochrane DSSAB … is in the multiple hundreds … and you know from COVID we’re seeing that affordability is in great need so … to avoid homelessness issues and things like that we need more affordable housing units,” he added.

What is the Future of Timmins Real Estate?

Could the city of Timmins endure a revitalization over the next decade? The municipality is currently debating the Official Plan, a document that determines the area’s priorities for the next ten years, from community improvements, to what parks should be constructed, to where officials should be located. With Timmins and the broader Northern Ontario region experiencing a notable population boost in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, will this part of the province become known as prime Ontario real estate?

Since there is a housing affordability crisis across the Great White North, out-of-town or even out-of-province homebuyers might want to focus their efforts on Northern Ontario, particularly as policymakers attempt to lay out potential growth strategies to not only attract even more Canadians, but also retain existing residents as well.

That said, the next 12 to 18 months could be pivotal for the Timmins real estate market. As the rest of the country witnesses a gentle cooling of the most recent housing boom, it might be challenging for Northern Ontario to sustain the momentum. Whether it is rising interest rates or the shift back to in-person working environments in the major urban centres, many trends are projected to unfold over the remainder of 2021 that will determine the state of markets province wide as we slide into 2022. Watch this space!