Flight To The Burbs: Every Real Estate Market In Ontario Is Outperforming Toronto

Greater Toronto is far from Ontario’s hottest market, as everyone scrambles to buy… uh, rural property? Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) data shows every market in Ontario is seeing massive price growth in November. This trend isn’t being driven by major cities like Toronto or Ottawa. Instead, small commuter suburbs and cottage country are what’s leading the market.

Toronto Real Estate Prices Are The Worst Performing In Ontario

Greater Toronto real estate prices are growing very quickly, just not as quick as the rest of the province. The aggregate home’s benchmark price reached $910,000 in November, up 0.78% from the month before. This represents a 10.48% increase from the same month last year. Both the monthly and annual rate of increase are huge. The monthly increase is almost half the annual inflation target. The annual rate is something that hadn’t been seen too frequently prior to 2015. 

Ontario Real Estate Prices

The price of a typical home in Ontario’s significant real estate markets, in Canadian dollars.
Source: CREA, Better Dwelling.

Small Cities In The Greater Golden Horseshoe Lead Monthly Gains

Small cities located throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe made the largest advance last month. Quinte’s benchmark price leads at $404,400 in November, up 4.09% in just the month. Bancroft follows with a benchmark price of $318,900, up 3.26% over the same period. Barrie comes in third with a benchmark of $604,800, up 3.04% in November. The monthly gains in these regions exceed annual gains for incomes in much of Canada. 

Ontario Real Estate Prices (Monthly Change)

The monthly percent change in the price of a typical home in Ontario’s significant real estate markets, in Canadian dollars.
Source: CREA, Better Dwelling.

Ontario’s Cottage Country Sees Biggest Annual Price Gains

The biggest annual gains across Ontario’s major markets were all in cottage country regions. Kawartha Lakes saw the biggest increase with the benchmark price reaching $493,400 in November, up 28.98% from the same month last year. Woodstock-Ingersoll followed at $467,200, up 28.34% over the same period. Quinte was in third with a benchmark of $404,400, up 28.11% from last year. For context, Greater Toronto’s booming market in 2017 only saw this kind of growth for about 4 months. These are extremely large (and odd) market gains.

Ontario Real Estate Prices (12-Month Change)

The 12-month percent change in the price of a typical home in Ontario’s significant real estate markets, in Canadian dollars.
Source: CREA, Better Dwelling.

The type of price growth seen is being driven by a few trends, most notably work from home, mortgage rates, and a flight to the suburbs. Work from home has let people work from pretty much anywhere, allowing further mobility from cities. Mortgage rates are at record lows, pushing buyer budgets to the max – allowing them to spend more, without feeling near term pain. The pandemic’s lockdown and shuttering of local businesses had a lot of people questioning whether the urban premium is worth it. Whether this changes immediately after the end of the pandemic, or if a semi-permanent shift in behaviour will persist, is anyone’s guess.

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  • Smaug 3 years ago

    I wonder what kind of commuter hell this is going to create when the boss wants to see everyone’s face back in the office again. Not everyone is going to work from home forever.

    • Liam 3 years ago

      Depends how comfortable people are. The people fleeing aren’t exactly low skill employees. If they like their lifestyle choice, it just means they’ll find a new job.

      The big issue created here is if you can outsource to at home workers in Canada, what’s stopping you from outsourcing from any other country? Deflationary for wages in the long run, but I think that’s going to be a while before we see that.

      • Bob 3 years ago

        For sure that ll happen. It’s useless to study engineering or tech in Canada. The cost of study is high and there won’t be jobs unless you are top of top performer. you get loads of labour coming at cheap. Banks and businesses lobbying for immigration but they won’t hire local students. Cute.

      • Neo 3 years ago

        Yup….I don’t think the white collar community understands this point. Not to mention it’s easier getting promoted when you are actually in front of your bosses on a regular basis.

  • Pierre 3 years ago

    I live in the Kawarthas, and there’s a big influx of people winterizing houses and plan on living in them full time. Price gains might even be a little low, because last year you could get a place for half the asking, and they were on the market for months.

    It’s a nice place to live, but you have to keep in mind it’s never going to be Toronto.

    • Neo 3 years ago

      “Winterize” lol…Ya right…I don’t think people from the GTA realize how harsh Northern Ontario winters are. It’s a grind and the amenities enjoyed in the GTA aren’t there year round plus the lack of convenience would get tedious if you aren’t accustomed to it.

  • Larry 3 years ago

    Hi. Thanks for the great articles…
    I was wondering why you seem to leave Brampton Ontario off your reports. Brampton is the 9th largest city in Canada and, real estate wise, has different market dynamics from Mississauga.
    If there is a good reason, could you please explain why Brampton is so often ignored?
    If there is not a good reason, could you please consider adding Brampton to your reports?

    Thanks in advance.

    Link to most populous Canadian cities:


    • Mortgage Guy 3 years ago

      Brampton and Mississauga are considered “suburbs” of Toronto. Even though they’re large municipalities, the real estate industry considers them a part of Greater Toronto.

      I imagine both regions are doing better than the City right now, considering everyone’s looking for more space. Even the condos are bigger in both regions.

  • Chris 3 years ago

    Although cottage country prices are up, remember that a 25% increase on a $300k home is still less $ than a 10% increase on a million $+ house in the city. Once covid is behind us, those that ran like a herd to escape to the country are going to be left with 2 hour plus commutes and will find themselves underwater on their mortgages. They will be hard pressed to get back into the Toronto market. The ones laughing all the way to the bank are those that finally managed to unload hard to sell rural real estate to panicked city slickers and those who rode it out in the city to see their home values driving up to the next level again. This article does a great job of skewing the numbers. Talk to me a year from now. Next report: Mass Exodus from Cottage Country….

  • Larry 3 years ago

    Thanks for replying to my comment about Brampton Ontario… I understand your point and don’t disagree that Brampton and Mississauga are both western suburbs of Toronto. The purpose of my question was to ask if you would please break out statistics for Brampton and Mississauga for things like Sales, Average / Median sale, SNLR, trends, etc. I strongly suspect that stats for Brampton are very different than they are for Mississauga. I’d be curious as to how each suburb is doing relative to the other.
    Thanks for considering. Keep up the great work. As a close-to-retirement senior whose retirement assets are heavily slanted toward real estate, I really appreciate your newsletter with their stats, facts and insights.
    Keep doing what you are doing!

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