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Strong outlook for Durham housing market

Early summer prices and sales appear stronger than rest of GTA, experts say

In 2017, Durham remained the second cheapest option for housing prices in the GTA, as house prices in Toronto were 99 per cent higher, Halton Region 69 per cent, and York Region 67 per cent.

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Over the past year, the real estate market has seen sales numbers and average selling prices drop considerably from record levels over the previous few years.

However, some analysts say the situation is not as dismal in Durham Region as some of its larger GTA counterparts.

Dana Senagama, principal market analyst (GTA) for the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, says Durham “tends to buck the trend.”

“The biggest decline has occurred in the most expensive markets such as York Region and the City of Toronto,” Senagama says. “There is still continued growth in Durham Region as it has lower prices and the demand is much stronger.”

According to the region’s 2017 building activity data, prices continued to skyrocket last year.

The average price of a new single-detached dwelling in Durham was up 14.2 per cent from $548,268 in 2016 to $626,256 in 2017.

The average price in Oshawa was up 15 per cent to $585,041.

In 2017, Durham remained the second cheapest option in the GTA, as house prices in Toronto were 99 per cent higher, Halton Region 69 per cent, and York Region 67 per cent.

Average prices in Peel were 15 per cent higher, while Hamilton was half a per cent cheaper.

But as the calendar flipped over to 2018, house prices began to decline, with the average selling price in Durham falling by more than $12,000 over the previous year to $597,485 in May 2018.

According to the Durham Region Association of Realtors (DRAR), year-to-year sales were down 33 per cent by the end of May.

But the month of June brought some good news according to DRAR president Dennis Roberts.

“What’s happened in June, the number of transactions has gone up 6.9 per cent, with a total of 918 transactions,” Roberts says.

As for sale prices, they were up slightly by 2.2 per cent last month.

For Roberts, the most important factor to remember is that Durham is “still the most affordable area in the GTA.”

Roberts says in the currently more-balanced market, sellers must ensure they judge the value of their property correctly from the beginning.

“They need a good realtor to price the property the first time.”

Senagama believes price drops can be attributed to buyers being less aggressive and searching for more affordable options such as condos and townhouses.

In her view, despite the declines in both sales and selling prices, “the market continues to be strong.”

Karolina Krystyniak of UOIT’s Faculty of Business and Information Technology notes “it does seem like the market is cooling off in the GTA.”

Krystyniak says the former-Wynne government implemented measures to slow the housing boom down, such as the Ontario Fair Housing Plan, but was unsure of the true benefit.

“It’s hard to tell if the measures introduced caused the slow down. Interest rates have increased, that definitely could have contributed,” Krystyniak says.

However, she too believes “Durham Region is probably not as affected.”

“I think there is still demand. People are saying it’s more of a buyers market, and there are not as many bidding wars.”