There’s every indication the housing market in Barrie may be too hot to handle.
After months of watching housing prices rise, realtor Vicki Howe of Exit Realty First North, watched with dismay as a house sold for almost $100,000 more than the asking price in just under four days.
Howe, who was representing one of 30 prospective buyers on what she described as a well-maintained, clean link home (connected by garages) in Barrie’s south-end, said the pressure was intense.
“It went insane. With the law of supply and demand, we have absolutely next to no supply and plenty of demand,” Howe said.
“Quite often a house will go above the asking price, but right now the demand is so high. The house that was listed for $340,000 went for more than $96,000 over that,” she said.
Barrie’s proximity to the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is one reason why its Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) - including the Town of Innisfil and Springwater Township – is competing with housing markets in the GTA.
In its newly released Housing Market Insight report, the Canadian Housing Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) said it has detected a “moderate or elevated evidence of over-valuation” in Hamilton, Barrie and Guelph, due to the ballooning prices in the GTA.
“Our research shows that because of its proximity to the GTA, people who used to look to York region, North York or Vaughan are now looking at Barrie as a comparable market,” said Jean Sebastien Michel, a principal market analyst with CMHC.
Michel said he believes the low supply in Barrie will encourage development, which will spur on the local construction businesses.
“And the construction industry is one of the industries that leads to more jobs and a better economy,” he said.
During his presentation at the Barrie Chamber of Commerce Mayor’s Lunch on Wednesday, Mayor Jeff Lehman pointed out figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association show the average price of a home in Barrie has jumped 70% in the last three years.
After the meeting, Lehman said the housing market has its advantages and disadvantages.
“We have an unbelievably low supply right now, and we’re six to 12 months away from plans for new subdivisions being approved and occupancy quite a bit after that,” Lehman said.
“But that’s the key that’s needed to ease supply, to ease the pressure.”
Lehman also pointed out developers are taking the lack of availability into consideration and building more townhomes and mid-rise apartments, which offer more affordable options for middle-income earners.
However, the alternative for people who can’t get into the housing market isn’t in the rental sector.
According to the January PadMapper Canada Rent Report, Barrie has become one of the most expensive cities to rent an apartment in the country.
Crystal Chen, of PadMapper, said Barrie's housing vacancy rate of less than 2% shows the rental market is almost as hot as the housing market.
“Barrie rents are some of the fastest growing we've seen in the past few months. In October, it ranked as the fifteenth most expensive city and has only continued to climb up the rankings since then,” Chen said. “Our January 2017 national rent report shows that this city is now the eighth most expensive city to rent in the nation.“
The price of a one-bedroom unit grew 2% to an even $1,000, while two-bedroom units increased 0.7% to $1,390.
Victoria, BC owns the top spot with a one-bedroom average rental of $1,870 and a two-bedroom unit running approximately $3,150.
In Toronto, the price of a one-bedroom unit rose by 3.3% to $1,550 and two bedroom units increased by 3.7% to $1,970.