Photo: James Bombales

Prices have skyrocketed in the GTA in the past few years — but it’s not the only Ontario housing market to have seen some serious price growth. According to a new report from RE/MAX INTEGRA, some of Ontario’s smaller cities have seen huge double-digit gains in the last decade.

“Between 2007 and 2017, the six largest markets in the province experienced substantial growth despite some serious challenges that included a financial crisis and subsequent recession,” reads RE/MAX’s Decade in Review report, released today.

According to the report, home prices in the GTA and the Hamilton-Burlington region more than doubled in the last 10 years, while the average price of a home rose 81 per cent in Kitchener-Waterloo, 63 per cent in London-St. Thomas, 62 per cent in Windsor and 44 per cent in Ottawa.

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“Lowering borrowing costs helped to jumpstart the province’s real estate engine, creating one of the most dynamic housing markets in recent history,” writes RE/MAX INTEGRA Ontario-Atlantic executive VP and regional director Christopher Alexander, in a statement.

While supply-demand fundamentals in the GTA made for a particularly tight market (and increasingly high prices), Alexander writes that nearby markets also experienced a “ripple effect.”

Ottawa reported sales over 17,000 units in 2017, while London-St.Thomas had over 10,000 sales and Kitchener-Waterloo topped 5,000.

Alexander says that increasingly high prices pushed buyers outside of the GTA, looking for affordable home ownership options.

“Limited inventory was reported in Hamilton-Burlington, Kitchener-Waterloo, London-St.Thomas, Windsor and Ottawa, as first-time buyers, especially those interested in single-detached homes, ventured outside of the GTA,” writes Alexander. “At one point, one in every four buyers in Hamilton-Burlington was from the GTA.”

He also points to a low interest rate environment and a strong economy as attractive circumstances for buyers over the past decade. Ontario also receives the vast majority of incoming immigrants to Canada.

“Population growth accelerated in the province over the last decade, with Statistics Canada reporting a 5.7 per cent increase between 2006 and 2011 and a further 4.6 per cent increase between 2011 and 2016,” reads the report.

So where are prices headed in the next decade? Alexander says to expect formerly affordable havens to become pricier, as buyers look for opportunities to buy that dream low rise home.

“This past decade has been exceptional for housing, with the annual rate of return in five of the six housing markets outperforming most other Canadian investment vehicles between 2007 and 2017,” he writes. “Moving forward, the stage is set for continued growth.”

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