Photo: James Bombales

Although December is typically seen as a slow month for home buying, house hunters  continued to spend significant amounts of time researching new homes in Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe, particularly in Toronto.

At the end of 2017, Toronto was the top destination for new home online searches in the region for both low- and high-rise units, according to Bullpen Consulting’s Residential Real Estate Round Up Report, published today.

However, in the low-rise new home market, another one of the most popular areas in the region for searches was the peripheral area surrounding Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph.

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“New home buyers continue to look farther outside the GTA for affordable low-rise housing options, with the preference clearly being the west, as opposed to the north or east,” writes Ben Myers, founder of Bullpen Consulting and the author of the report.

The report contains data collected by BuzzBuzzHome’s analyst team from new residential developments across the region — including pricing and unit sizes — and analysis based on the behaviour of the site’s user base.

In the analysis, low-rise housing includes single-detached, semi-detached, row and stacked townhouses.

In December 2017, the average size of a low-rise home in Toronto ranged from 2,097 square feet to 3,521 square feet, with an average price in the range of $2 million to $2.6 million.

When broken down by unit size, Myers notes that there was surprising popularity in single-detached homes and semis with 1,700 square feet and 1,800 square feet floorplans. Meanwhile, for townhomes 1,600-square-foot floorplans received the most views from BuzzBuzzHome users.

Brampton was the second most searched area for low-rise housing, followed by Vaughan and Hamilton.

In the Greater Golden Horseshoe’s new home high-rise market, Toronto also took the number one spot for most searched municipality at the end of 2017. The average size of a high-rise unit in Toronto ranges from 522 square feet to 1,636 square feet, with an average price of $880 per-square-foot.

Following Toronto in popularity for high-rise searches were Mississauga, Oakville and Hamilton, respectively.

Interestingly, the average size of a new condo project in Mississauga is larger than Toronto at 28 storeys and 433 units, compared to 26 storeys and 397 units in Toronto.

Based on floorplan sizes, units in the 600 square foot to 700 square foot range are the most popular among prospective buyers in the high-rise new home market.

The report also examined the impact that the introduction of Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan had on online searches in the new home market last year. In April 2017, the provincial government introduced the Fair Housing Plan to cool the Greater Golden Horseshoe’s market, which included the non-resident speculation tax.

According to BuzzBuzzHome’s data, in March 2017 investor interest nearly tripled from March 2016, but saw a sharp decline in May 2017 following the announcement of the plan.

Possibly as a reaction to the levy on foreign buyers, the amount of Chinese users searching for new homes in the region dropped 41 per cent year-over-year in December 2017. Meantime, online searches by Americans were up 73 per cent compared to a year ago.

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