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Move over, homebuyers — high real estate prices in the Greater Toronto Area are encouraging shoppers do just that, suggests RE/MAX’s 2017 Spring Market Trends Report, out this week.

The average residential sale price for the Greater Toronto Area was $873,631 over the first three months of this year, up a vertiginous 29 per cent from the same period a year ago, when prices averaged $675,492, according to RE/MAX.

In such an expensive environment, one that policymakers recently targeted with 16 measures including a proposed foreign-buyer tax and rent control, many on the hunt for a home have turned not just to Mississauga, Brampton and Durham but also outside the GTA altogether. RE/MAX calls these roving house hunters “move-over” buyers.

The real estate franchiser, which has a presence in markets around the world, pinpoints Barrie, Hamilton-Burlington, Kingston and Windsor as examples. All are seeing double-digit annual price growth despite being located outside of the GTA.

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Of all 13 Ontario markets RE/MAX tracked, the Durham region of the GTA and Barrie, a city just outside the GTA’s borders, posted the largest year-over-year price gains at 39 per cent each.

But both offer considerably cheaper homes on average. Barrie’s average residential price was $525,830 even after such astronomical appreciation, and Durham’s was $668,827.

RE/MAX joins a growing chorus of market observers nodding to rising home prices in markets farther and farther away from the GTA as a sign that interest is shifting outside of the urban centre towards affordable options elsewhere.

Recently, BMO noted exuberance in Thunder Bay, London and Orillia’s markets. And one local realtor told BuzzBuzzNews that Baby Boomers were cashing out of the GTA and moving to Thunder Bay, which is roughly 1,400 kilometres away.

This week, Ben Myers, senior VP of market research and analytics at Fortress Real Developments, called it the “halo effect” during his latest appearance on BuzzTV, BuzzBuzzHome’s weekly Facebook Live broadcast.

“You know, prices start here,” he continued, referring to the GTA, “and it just slowly goes out to these other marketplaces.”

In Windsor, the average price of a home was $246,775 over this year’s first quarter, an increase of 17 per cent over last year, according to RE/MAX.

“Windsor seems like pretty far to move to, but when you can get a single-detached home for $200,000, you start to say, ‘Hey, let’s make Windsor great again,’” Myers laughs.

See the full BuzzTV interview with Myers below.

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