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Pandemic pushes Hamilton real estate to lofty heights



When Lori McConomy and Matt Lidstone bought 351 East 27th St. — a modest wartime house near Fennell and Upper Sherman avenues — they paid $430,000.

Seven months later, they sold it for almost double what they paid: $828,800.

“We didn’t even make it to offer day because people were sending us pre-emptive offers,” said McConomy, 41. “We didn’t expect it.”

The Waterdown couple bought the house as an investment and renovated it into a legal duplex, an in-demand type of property as it allows for both living space and income. Even though they had been through the buying process recently, they weren’t prepared for how aggressive the market had become when they were ready to sell in January. Over five days, 351 East 27th St. had 120 showings and sold for $225,000 over its asking price after being listed for $599,000.

Over five days, this home at 351 East 27th St. had 120 showings and sold for $225,000 over its asking price after being listed for $599,000.

The Hamilton-Burlington area was already on an upswing before COVID, but several pandemic-related factors have turned a busy market into a deluge, says Donna Bacher, president of the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington. Many sellers, fearful of showings amid the pandemic, took their homes off the market and have been slow to return. Meanwhile, buyers buoyed by remote work arrangements are looking for roomier homes and more outdoor space. For those in downtown Toronto’s starter condos, that often leads to Hamilton or the surrounding area.

However, it’s not all Toronto people who are looking locally. “Anecdotally, it seems like the same mix as normal (some local buyers, some from Toronto and other municipalities), but higher numbers.” However, buyers from Toronto often come with deeper pockets and the expectation of higher prices, which can push sale prices out of range for some Hamilton buyers, according to several realtors who spoke with The Spectator.

McConomy and Lidstone’s interest in real estate investment was kicked into high gear when McConomy lost her job in insurance last year. Now she plans to flip houses full-time. The couple has already bought another house on the Mountain, for $650,000, with the intention of undertaking a similar renovation. Lidstone, 41, says the higher purchase price compared to their last flip is “a little daunting,” but they’re confident they will be able to flip it for a good price.


The living room at 351 East 27th St. The Waterdown couple who bought the house as an investment, renovated it into a legal duplex.

Their realtor, Bridgecan Realty’s Manny Haidary, thinks prices in the city are finally catching up to “where they should be” after being undervalued for a long time. “Hamilton has a lot to offer … Nobody really understands why we were so cheap for so many years, maybe because we had a bad rep because of the steel industry. People would drive by the bridge and see the steel companies, and think, ‘Oh my god, Hamilton.’”

In RAHB’s coverage area, the average residential home price was $787,840 in January, up a notable 27.6 per cent from January the previous year. Meanwhile, the number of available homes at the end of the month was 53.2 per cent lower than the same time a year earlier.

In a January report to her colleagues at Royal LePage Burloak’s Rocca Sisters Team, realtor Bonnie Glen points out that in greater Hamilton — including Glanbrook, Ancaster, Dundas, Stoney Creek and Flamborough — the average home sale price is 40.1 per cent higher than January 2020.

In old Hamilton, Glen says the vast majority of sales are occurring within a week of the listing date, compared to under 20 days in Burlington. Further, buyers are suddenly snapping up homes that have been on the market for weeks. “In January, we saw many (Hamilton) properties that had been listed for months sell for the asking price,” she adds. “We saw seven properties sell for more than 40 per cent over the asking price.” A similar phenomenon is happening in Burlington, where “properties that had been listed for the better part of last year re-listed and (sold) for considerably more than the original asking price.”

Many realtors are reporting an increase in condition-free offers and a vastly increased number of showings. However, RAHB president Bacher cautions those showing numbers could be inflated by the elimination of open houses due to COVID. “The people (who are curious but not serious buyers) are all coming through privately, where you might normally get 50, 60, or 100 people through an open house.”

Glen recently made the news with a home for sale in Kirkendall South that drew 102 interested parties for showings, despite being in such bad shape that it will have to be completely gutted. Photos of the long boarded-up home at 109 Kent St., near Aberdeen Avenue and Queen Street South, show a once-stately home with crumbling ceilings, unhinged cupboards and what appears to be black mould on the walls. The house was listed at $499,000 and got $615,000.

The home’s condition, which Glen described as like “a hoarder’s house on steroids,” was the result of an estate dispute that lasted two decades. “It will have to be taken back to the studs, but the location was the draw. It’s not every day this sort of opportunity presents itself. The fact that it had that third floor attic space, added probably 300 extra square feet. The potential for that house is pretty amazing. I think the buyer will have to spend $300,000 to get it where it needs to be.”

That buyer ended up being Elaine Warren, a Hamilton realtor herself. She is downsizing from a larger house nearby — a house she gutted and rebuilt, as she will with 109 Kent.

“After my contractor went through with me, he said, ‘This is in pretty good shape despite what’s obvious. It’s not a teardown.’ These are beautiful old homes. That’s what gives it that sense of uniqueness.”

Realtor Adam Cooke recently sold a two-storey house near Tim Hortons Field for $535,000 after asking $399,000.

Realtor Adam Cooke recently sold a two-storey house near Tim Hortons Field for $535,000 after asking $399,000. He said half of 44 Primrose Ave.’s 140 showings were Toronto agents, and a Toronto buyer will be the new owner. While that may be nice when you’re the selling agent, he notes the tables are turned when he’s representing local buyers.

A view of the kitchen at 44 Primrose Ave., which recently sold for $535,000.


“It’s frustrating because we get outbid all the time — $20-, $30- or $40,000 — by a Toronto person,” said Cooke, part of the McCarroll Team at Keller Williams Complete Realty. “As a buyer agent, it sucks. My customers are frustrated and I have to advise them to overpay … People are waiting (to buy) because they think they will be able to scoop all these bargain properties (after a crash). I don’t see the exodus out of Toronto slowing down.”


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'Unprecedented' demand driving real estate sales and prices in Canmore –



It was just minutes after a new listing for a $1.15-million home in Canmore, Alta., went online when real estate agent Jill Law’s phone started buzzing.

Three days and 31 showings later, she had received 11 offers for the property, including one from a family who wrote a personal letter to the seller and included a family photo.  

It appears to be the winning “bid” in a soaring real estate market that is seeing more multiple offers and properties selling above the asking price. 

Real estate professionals, market watchers and long-time residents say there’s a combination of factors at play, including the pandemic and low interest rates. But the sales surge and rising prices are raising concerns in the community — which still considers itself a place where families can raise their children rather than an exclusive playground for the privileged.

The average house price in Canmore is closing in on $1.1 million, according to the Alberta Real Estate Association’s benchmark price.

“Sales are up, the inventory is down,” said Dan Sparks, one of Canmore’s busiest real estate agents, who has been selling homes in the Bow Valley for 20 years.

This home on Grotto Road received 11 offers in three days. The offer that was chosen is believed to be several thousand dollars above the $1.15-million asking price. The family wrote a personal letter to the seller and included a family photo. (Google Maps)

But there are fewer homes to sell. There are approximately 100 homes on the market right now. When you factor in the number of sales, it works out to a one-month supply, down sharply from the usual five- to six-month supply at this time of year.

What does all of that mean? To put it mildly, it’s a sellers’ market.

“We’ve had exceptional sales throughout the Canmore area, but the listings and the supply haven’t kept pace,” said Ann-Marie Lurie, the chief economist with the Alberta Real Estate Association. 

“And that’s what’s causing some of the price gains that we’re seeing in that market.”

And some of those price gains have been astronomical.

A condominium hotel unit in Canmore recently sold for $50,000 over the $600,000 asking price. The seller had purchased the unit for $350,000 in 2016. (ReMax Alpine Realty)

Kelly MacMillan with ReMax Alpine Realty says she just sold a hotel condominium unit for $50,000 above the asking price.

The two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo — which has the potential to generate nightly hotel revenue — was listed for $600,000. The sellers purchased the property four years ago for $350,000.  

“There was an opportunity to cash out of the marketplace,” said MacMillan.

“They’re very happy,” she said of her clients.

Pandemic pushes demand

Sparks calls it COVID fatigue. Although he has been taking calls from people in Toronto and Montreal — and even a family in Germany — a good portion of buyers are people from Calgary and Edmonton who have been stuck at home for over a year and are looking for a change of scenery, he says.

Real estate agent Dan Sparks says buyers from Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal have purchased or are considering purchasing homes in Canmore as a result of the pandemic. He says people have the flexibility to work from home on a permanent basis and are choosing the resort town as their base. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

“They’ve been working from home for a while, and they can continue to do so. And if they can do that, then they’ll do it where they want to be,” he said.  

MacMillan agrees.

“Canmore, especially recreational markets, where people are discovering that they don’t have to be where they work. They have that work-from-home flexibility.”

Housing affordability

As the inventory dwindles, so do the opportuniites to find a traditional, single family, detached home. Sparks says last week there were just two homes listed for under $1 million — and only five were on the market for under $1.5 million.

Sparks spent several years on the board of directors of Canmore Community Housing, a town-owned corporation tasked with creating affordable housing options for people and families.

A 10-unit townhouse project is under construction and is expected to open in early 2022.

Construction has started on a 10-unit townhouse project on Lawrence Grassi Ridge in Canmore, Alta. It’s being built by Canmore Community Housing in an effort to increase the supply of affordable housing in the mountain town west of Calgary. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

Already there are 150 people on the waiting list to either buy or rent a property.

“It’s basically just fingers in the dam,” said Sparks.

“Housing affordability in Canmore is always going to be a problem. We’re just going to constantly be working on that problem.”

The average condominium price in Canmore is now $500,000. 

New development, more affordable housing?

Canmore town council recently approved a series of amendments to the latest development plan for the Three Sisters Mountain Village (TSMV) on the east side of the community. 

One of the changes is a proposed requirement that the developer include 20 per cent affordable or subsidized housing — double the amount proposed by TSMV. A spokesperson for the developer says the company is still assessing the impact of the amendments and is withholding comment until the plan goes back to council on May 11. 

The proposed area structure plan for Three Sisters Mountain Village in Canmore will include a requirement that 20 per cent of future development fit the town’s affordable housing requirements. The plan will be debated again on May 11, 2021. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

The mayor says that while it will take years for those units to become available, council had to act now.

John Borrowman says young families have been leaving the community for years because they can’t afford to stay.

“We’ve been bleeding the next generation like that for years,” he said.

“If we don’t do something to ensure affordable housing is a big part of our future, the town will become … it will only be a place for the very wealthy.”

New housing options, slow uptake

The town recently said it would consider secondary suites to be built or legalized in existing neighbourhoods. Financial incentives are being offered to homeowners to add what it calls “accessory dwelling units.” 

So far, only three homeowners have applied for the $20,000 grants. 

A recently completed secondary suite inside a new $1.4-million duplex in Canmore. The town allows ‘accessory dwelling units’ in existing neighbourhoods and offers up to $20,000 in grants to help homeowners add the suites and expand the community’s affordable housing stock. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

Dale Hildebrand is a local real estate agent and builder. He recently sold two duplexes that were listed for $1.2 million and $1.4 million. One of them includes a separate, one-bedroom suite. 

Hildebrand’s next project is in the early stages, but he’s hoping to redevelop several residential lots near downtown into 16 to 18 townhouses. Several will be purpose-built for employers to purchase for their employees.

“They can … rent them out to their employees at a subsidized rate,” said Hildebrand.

But as demand remains strong and prices climb, the market may be too hot for employers to consider employee housing.

Infill housing in some older neighbourhoods in Canmore, Alta., is increasing density. Two single family homes are being replaced by three duplexes that are expected to sell for $1.2 million to $1.4 million each. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

It’s a problem for the community, which has had trouble attracting employees.

“It’s harder for young people to find affordable accommodation,” said Michel Dufresne, the director of the Job Resource Centre for Banff and Canmore.

“It also makes it harder for small businesses to provide that housing for their employees. It’s become a bigger play when you have to buy a house for a million dollars to house five people,” he said.

“It’s very costly.” 

Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.

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Prices for Cottage Properties in Canadian Real Estate Market Soar – RE/MAX News



From luxury properties to townhomes, the Canadian real estate market has witnessed monumental growth over the last year. Across the country, sales activity and home valuations have been climbing at levels never seen before, buoyed by strong demand, low inventory and historically low interest rates. These are the dominant trends, whether you’re house-hunting in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia or Halifax, Nova Scotia.

But one of the most riveting developments in the Canadian real estate market since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic has been the substantial price increases for cottage properties. While cottage country markets across the country have typically witnessed high demand during the summer months, evolving consumer trends are pointing to sustained interest throughout the year in rural communities.

Since more people are working from home, professionals are setting their sights on lakefront cottages, chalets in the mountains or cabins in the woods, away from the hustle and bustle of major urban centres. But as homeowners cash in on their big-city properties, they are using their high equity to outbid buyers (including local residents and their fellow out-of-town buyers) and driving up cottage prices in the process. Many forecasts suggest that this impressive growth will continue through 2021 and potentially heading into 2022.

Has the Canadian real estate market been permanently altered as more households shy away from hyper-dense metropolitan areas to embrace the charm of quiet small-town life? The answer might be reflected in the numbers across multiple recreational housing markets from coast to coast.

Prices for Cottage Properties in Canadian Real Estate Market Soar

If you are currently trying rent a cottage in rural Ontario, you may be out of luck as the vast majority are fully booked for the rest of 2021. Similarly, if you’re keen to buy a cottage in Atlantic Canada, be prepared to put up a fight thanks to swelling levels of demand as a result of out-of-province buyers and cheap borrowing costs.

Here are some of the figures of what homebuyers can expect to face as they seek shelter in Canada’s recreational property markets:

Kawartha Lakes, Ontario (March 2021 / year-over-year)

  • Residential non-waterfront sales: +87.7%
  • Residential waterfront sales: +223.1%
  • Median price for residential non-waterfront properties: +44.7% to $606,000
  • Median price for residential waterfront properties: +64.5% to $872,000

Georgian Bay, Ontario (March 2021 / yoy)

  • Residential sales: +106.1%
  • Benchmark price for single-family homes: +43.6% to $617,900

Sunshine Coast, British Columbia (December 2020 / yoy)

  • Residential sales: +82%
  • Median price of residential properties: +7.8% to $830,000

Prince Albert, Saskatchewan (March 2021 / yoy)

  • Residential sales: +79.2%
  • MLS® Home Price Index (HPI): +12.1% to $183,100

Prince Edward Island (March 2021 / yoy)

  • Residential sales: +81.7%
  • Average price of homes sold: +21.9% to $330,121

Lethbridge, Alberta (March 2021 / yoy)

  • Single-detached home sales: +59.6%
  • Median sale price for single-detached homes: +14% to $335,000

What to Expect for Cottage Real Estate Moving Forward?

Whether you desire to go fishing on a lake or sip coffee on the patio of your waterfront property, be prepared to open your wallet wide. Cottage country prices are still expected to increase, especially now that the busy spring and summer home-buying season has arrived. This historically active period is anticipated to be busier than ever before. At the very least, prices are expected to continue rising.

Like Toronto or Vancouver, cottage areas are experiencing low inventory. A dramatic supply imbalance is leading to bidding wars for active and new listings. While this was unheard-of just a few short years ago, it has become the norm in many recreational communities across Canada. Work-from-home arrangements, the demand for less-densified areas and larger living spaces paired with ultra low interest rates are the key drivers of this unprecedented growth within destinations that would be difficult to spot on a map.

As the Financial Post wrote in February, “Cottage country is the new battleground for housing bidding wars.” Although cottage country housing will still appeal to city slickers following the COVID-19 pandemic, the market could eventually normalize, write Murtaza Haider, a Ryerson University professor, and Stephen Moranis a real estate industry veteran.

“Once more housing is made available by prospective sellers, who have been patiently watching the markets from the sidelines, cottage country markets are likely to return to calmer conditions to match the serene and tranquil environments that distinguish them,” they said.

Until then, cottage country is no longer just the focus of retirees searching for the quiet life in their golden years, or families seeking fun in the summer sun. Young professional couples who only need a reliable Internet connection to work are expected to become a key driver of the cottage country housing market for the foreseeable future, whether in the Sunshine Coast or Atlantic Canada.

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Canadian Real Estate Sales Are Forecast To Slow, and It’s Going To Drag The Economy – Better Dwelling



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Canadian Real Estate Sales Are Forecast To Slow, and It’s Going To Drag The Economy  Better Dwelling

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