In response to skyrocketing GTA housing prices, demand for homes – and, subsequently, prices – in London, Ontario, have so far this year risen to create the hottest market in the region’s history with bidding wars and multiple offers.
And yet a London home is still up to 60% less than its GTA counterpart.
“London prices are the primary draw, then the lifestyle,” says Jack Lane, broker of record, The Property Professionals, London, with 41 years of real estate experience. “Our spring market frenzy saw a few homes selling for as much as $150,000 over asking and in some cases, more than 30 offers on a single property, but homes here are still remarkably affordable compared to the GTA. Thankfully our supply of available properties has increased and our current market is much more balanced compared to the first six months of the year.”
The Canadian Real Estate Association’s (CREA) National MLS Report for June 2017 confirms that status in this snapshot of how average home prices in London and St. Thomas compared to other major Ontario and Canadian centres.
“GTA residents simply couldn’t afford to buy locally, whether it was their first home or a new home to meet their changing needs, and residential investors weren’t seeing the ROIs they needed to justify GTA purchases, so they looked west,” says Lane. “On any weekday, the train station is packed with commuters, but London isn’t typically seen as a commuter community. People moving into the area have typically been hired locally, work independently and if not already retired, see it in their near future.”
What Buyers are Getting in London
In July 2017 in the London St. Thomas area, the average year to date sales price was $330,718 up 18.5% from the 2016 average home price of $279,057, following a slow but steady climb from $202,256 to $279,057, a 37.9% rise between 2007 and year-end 2016.
A family can exchange a GTA three-bedroom townhome or condo in Mississauga for a detached, four-bedroom house with an inground pool and double the acreage in London. All that, in a great neighbourhood, in a safe city with a population of 383,822, and enjoying a wide range of leisure and cultural amenities as well as a great quality of life. Ethnically and culturally diverse, immigrants account for 21.2% of the population, with 23% of Londoners able to converse in a non-official language.
“[Buyers have] done their research so they’re pleased, but not surprised, that the [London] market delivers on their expectations,” says Lane. “It’s a great place to raise a family or retire, because it’s affordable and offers outstanding access to education and healthcare, which are also our two top employers.”
London’s Big Draws
London is home to Western University, which had 29,828 students enrolled in 2016/2017, while Fanshawe College typically has 43,000 students enrolled. There is also a wide variety of medical facilities, including Victoria Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Care London, London Health Sciences Centre, the Ivey Eye Institute, and more.
Convenience and access to amenities are key in London, where sports and entertainment are conveniently located in the heart of London at Budweiser Gardens, a 9,000-seat sports entertainment centre. The Grand Theatre, built in 1901 as the Grand Opera House, now boasts its own professional theatre company and various stages. The city centre offers multiple parks and greenways running along the 273km Thames River.
London is an easy drive to Stratford, Ontario and a number of US cities or you can fly to Toronto from London International Airport, which handled 514,685 passengers in 2016, to catch a flight to anywhere in the world. London also offers direct flights to Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver as well as Florida, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.
“London’s solid organic growth, without government interference or influence, is proof it’s a great community, because people come to London, tell their families and friends, and they follow,” says Lane.