Updated: Feb 17, 2021
Selling a home in Southwestern Ontario in 2020 has felt like being on a rollercoaster ride. After a dramatic plunge in sales during the first wave of COVID, the real estate market has soared back to life. Sales, listings and home prices are reaching record-breaking levels.
Chatham-Kent, in particular, has been a beneficiary of this dramatic rebound. Not only has the pandemic not slowed down real estate in Chatham-Kent, but in some cases aspects of the lockdown even fueled the rebound, including:
· An increase in remote work
· A desire for larger homes (especially for families working at home)
· A move away from the pricey Toronto market and towards secondary markets
With 2021 hopefully bring an end to the pandemic and a return to normalcy, the new year is an exciting time for home sellers in the region. Let’s look at six reasons to sell your home in Chatham-Kent in 2021.
1. Homes Sales in Chatham-Kent Are Soaring
Chatham-Kent is in the midst of a very strong seller’s market. In November, home sales increased by 36.7 percent compared to November 2019 with 134 units sold, a record-breaking figure.
There is even more good news if you want to sell your home in Chatham-Kent: home prices are going up. The average price for a home sold in November was $332,416, yet another record broken. As is the case across much of Southwestern Ontario, home sales are on fire right now with prices and sale at rates never seen before in the region. While the market may stabilize somewhat in 2021, demand for homes in Chatham-Kent is expected to remain high in the new year.
2. Home Inventory Can’t Keep Up with Demand
One reason Chatham-Kent is a strong seller’s market is a matter of supply and demand. There are simply not enough homes to keep up with buyer interest. The months of inventory rate—the number of months it would take to sell every unit for sale at current sales rates—was down to just 0.9 in November, the lowest it has ever been. At the same time last year, the months of inventory rate was 4.7 months.
While there has been an uptick in home listings, it likely won’t be enough to substantially address the housing supply shortage in Chatham-Kent. While that situation presents a challenge for homebuyers, for home sellers it means they can expect high interest from prospective buyers to continue into 2021.
3. Chatham-Kent is a Bargain for Toronto Homebuyers
Home prices in Chatham-Kent are on the rise. As mentioned, the average price of a home sold in the region was $332,416 in November, a 37.1% increase from a year ago. For long-time residents of Chatham, that figure can come as a shock. However, for anyone accustomed to real estate prices in Toronto, getting a home for about $330,000 is a bargain.
As of December, the average sold price in Toronto was $985,000—a figure that includes condominiums and townhouses, which tend to be cheaper. When looking at only detached homes, the average sold price is $1.5 million—far beyond the reach of the average worker. While the dream of homeownership has become extremely difficult in Toronto, in Chatham-Kent buying a home is still very much a possibility and interest from Toronto buyers is likely to persist in the new year.
4. Remote Work Makes Chatham-Kent an Attractive Real Estate Market
The drive from Chatham to Toronto is about 3 hours. That’s a lot of time to spend in the car if you’re commuting regularly into the city. However, in a post-COVID world where remote work is likely to remain prevalent with only occasional days in the office, then a 3-hour drive doesn’t seem too bad.
A recent survey of Canadian workers, for example, found that 63% described their ideal work environment as being at least half remote work, although the vast majority still wanted some time at the office. That suggests remote work combined with occasional days at the office will become the new norm. So, expect homebuyers in 2021 to be more open to houses that are slightly further away from Toronto, but still close enough that a drive into the city once or twice a week isn’t a burden. Chatham-Kent fits that description perfectly.
5. The U.S. Border is a Selling Point for Chatham-Kent
Chatham-Kent is just an hour from the U.S. border in Detroit. While COVID has dramatically reduced border crossings, that will probably change once mass vaccinations get underway and life returns to normal. The area’s proximity to the border holds a number of advantages for home sellers. Just as with Toronto commuters, commuters who work in Detroit but live in Canada can easily take advantage of Chatham-Kent’s low prices and small-town lifestyle.
American homebuyers, meanwhile, are drawn to Chatham for both its lifestyle and the fact that the U.S. dollar goes further here. Plus, Canadians who don’t work across the border still enjoy benefits from being close to the U.S., such as access to shopping, lower gas prices and the big-city amenities of Detroit. Once the border does open up, expect interest in Chatham-Kent to increase from both Canadian and US buyers.
6. Chatham-Kent Has the Lifestyle ‘X-Factor’ Homebuyers Want
Another way that COVID has upended the housing market is in how it has changed what buyers want in a home. The attraction of a big city like Toronto has long been that, in exchange for paying a higher mortgage and getting less space, homebuyers enjoy enhanced lifestyle amenities, like restaurants, bars, theatres, and parks within walking distance. Obviously, those amenities are much less common or harder to access now, which has left homeowners feeling like Toronto’s high prices and cramped living conditions are now longer worthwhile.
The result is smaller communities like Chatham-Kent find themselves offering the sort of lifestyle “x-factor” that previously helped drive up Toronto real estate. A survey by Realtor.com, for example, found that homebuyers’ top priorities in 2020 were finding more space and living in a better neighbourhood.
With larger homes, plenty of outdoor recreational activities and a thriving arts and culture scene, Chatham-Kent gives homebuyers the space they want without sacrificing the amenities that make city living appealing. That lifestyle factor is not going away anytime soon and will continue to draw interest from prospective homebuyers in 2021.