Ben Myers research Photo: Scott Akerman/Flickr

The following is a guest column by Ben Myers, Senior VP Market Research and Analytics at Fortress Real Developments. Fortress Real Developments partners with builders and developers across Canada and Ben assists in evaluating the market and projects that Fortress engages in. 

This is my first guest column on BuzzBuzzHome News and I have to admit I’m pretty excited about it.

The BuzzBuzzHome founders have invited me to their annual industry event in Muskoka several times, and I finally had the opportunity to attend this year. I sat down on separate occasions with Matthew Slutsky and Cliff Peskin, discussing their new (and very handy) ‘Market Snapshot’ website tool that, among other things, allows users to browse prices on a per square foot (psf) basis for new projects across Canada.

We got to chatting about the immense potential their website possesses for guys like me in the way of “Big Data”, the millions of impressions, that when properly delineated, can help you determine what people want to buy in terms of product type and size in different markets, and most importantly, at what prices. I told them I’d love to look at their data and write about it, and after a productive meeting at their super cool office (which will overlook our latest project with Carlyle Communities on Peter Street), a semi-regular guest column entitled Big Data with Big Ben was conceived.

For the first run through, I wanted to do a very simple analysis of the Canadian markets (includes projects in BC, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario): what are the biggest markets in terms of total new housing units, and which markets are charging the most.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that Toronto is the biggest market in those four provinces with over 47,200 units, followed by Calgary with approximately 21,400, Edmonton with about 17,000, Ottawa with 14,600, and rounding out the top five was Brampton at 9,300 units. The big difference is Toronto is comprised of 92 per cent condominium apartments and Brampton is comprised of 99 per cent low-rise houses (single-detached, semi-detached and townhouses).

units in active new developments

When it comes to average new house prices among the top 15 municipalities by total units, the data was quite interesting, Vaughan had the highest low-rise house price at just under $1 million on average, followed by Richmond Hill at $850,000, Vancouver at $835,000, Mississauga at $696,000, and Markham at $674,000. Toronto finished sixth!

Condominium pricing was a little more predictable, with Vancouver topping the Canadian municipalities with an average price of $490,000, followed distantly by Toronto at $409,000, Vaughan at $386,000, Richmond Hill at $376,000, and Calgary at $373,000.

average new house prices by product type

If you’ve bought the average priced new condominium in your municipality and are looking for a new low-rise home? Well, you’re going to need to pony up a lot more cash; in Vaughan, you’ll need another $614,000 to buy the average new low-rise home, $478,000 more in Richmond Hill, $345,000 in Vancouver, $336,000 in Mississauga, and in Markham, you’ll need $315,000 more. Interestingly, in Calgary a mere $29,000 extra dollars will get you the average priced new low-rise home.

Lastly, in which new home markets are people doing the most research? There seems to be correlation between the amount of time the BuzzBuzzHome visitors spent looking at projects in a specific market, and how high the prices are for low-rise homes! This makes sense, if you’re buying at home that costs over $700,000 you might want to spend time doing your research. The amount of time people spent looking at projects on BuzzBuzzHome was the longest in Markham, followed by Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Surrey and Mississauga. I would have expected Toronto or Calgary to top this list simply based on the large number of projects in both of those cities for visitors to peruse. So obviously, people looking to buy in the suburbs take more time doing their research!

average visitor time on bbh

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the analysis of the BuzzBuzzHome data, and I welcome your feedback and suggested topics. Check back soon.

Follow his blog posts and commentary on the Canadian Housing Market at www.fortressrealdevelopments.com/news or follow him on twitter at @BenMyers29.

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