Windsor’s housing market making gains

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Windsor Star/Rick Dawes

Windsor real estate agent Bob Peters recently brought a Toronto colleague to check out a new home in Lakeshore to see what $700,000 could buy him here.

The man just laughed.

The two-storey, 3,300-square-foot home on Stonebrook Boulevard had four bedrooms, three bathrooms and an oversized three-car garage. It was a lot more than what $700,000 would have gotten him in Toronto.

“He was laughing because it was basically what his house was worth and he’s got a three-bedroom bungalow in a nice area,” Peters said.

Peters’ friend was Tony Miranda, a licensed Toronto real estate broker with 37 years of experience, who works for First Reliance, a real estate investment group.

“You don’t really see that type of home being built (in Toronto), you do — but you have to pay the piper,” Miranda said. “When I looked at the house, wow, I’d love to move into Windsor because what I’m getting for my money now is ridiculous compared to what I could be getting in the Windsor market.”

Miranda estimated a similar home in Toronto, not even in the downtown area, would cost around $2 million.

“A starting home right now in Toronto, I’m talking three bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchen, nothing huge – maybe 1,200 square feet – you’re looking at maybe $700,000.”

Home sales in Windsor climbed 32 per cent in February, compared to the same month last year, and prices rose by 3.5 per cent, according to the Windsor-Essex County Association of Realtors.

There were 522 properties that listed in February, for a total 1,905 properties up for sale. Of those, 359 properties were sold last month, compared to 271 in February 2014.

The average sale price in February was $192,163, compared to $185,651 last year — a far cry from what’s happening in Toronto, where the average price of a home surpassed $1 million.

Cameron Paine, president of the local Realtors association, said home values have been steadily increasing in Windsor by three or four per cent over the last few years, and forecasts show values are expected to rise by five or six per cent this year. “We’re approaching a seller’s market but we’re not quite there yet,” Paine said. “It’s not going crazy … but it is steady.”

Paine said the region is still marketing itself as an affordable place to live. “You can sell your $1 million home (in Toronto) and buy a similar home here for $250,000 and have $750,000 to retire on.”

Miranda said Windsor is favourable to investors because of the low cost of properties. First Reliance owns four apartments in Windsor, totalling 164 units, and is looking for more space. Miranda said each building has a vacancy rate of 1.5 to 2 per cent.

“I think Windsor by the summer, once the University of Windsor opens up downtown, I think you guys are going to have a great, great rental market in there,” said Miranda. “I think once we get to the summertime there’s going to be more demand than supply.”

Peters said February’s real estate sales numbers may also be a bit of bounce-back from last year’s longer and gruesome winter weather.

“We had a really bad (weather-wise) February here and the market is still up,” Peters said. “What drove the market down last year was strictly the weather … it came early November and never left.”

Peters said while Windsor’s real estate market is performing well, it could be even better.

“The only thing that’s holding back the market right now is lack of product. The market is good, it’s very active for the amount of homes there are, but if there was more product there would be more sales,” Peters said.