Big City or Big Value?

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By condoculture

Most of you either already own condo or are in the market to purchase. Regardless if you’re purchasing a condo to move into or for investment purposes, it pays to know where values are and ensure you’re getting the most for your money and making the best use of it. So, dollar for dollar, have you ever wondered how condo values in Kitchener-Waterloo or Hamilton compares to bigger cities like Toronto or Vancouver? We decided to take a closer look and see how we stack up. Sure, the lifestyle in these “big” cities is great but the growth and many changes underway in both Kitchener-Waterloo and Hamilton have made them even more livable, especially throughout the downtown cores, where we have more restaurants, shops and entertainment than ever before. It may come as no surprise that our cities are now highly attractive places to live and fortunately or unfortunately, the secret is getting out. From many different perspectives, we’re in a bit of a boom out here and residents of the GTA are starting to take strong notice. Home prices in both K-W and Hamilton are on the rise and a big part of this is good, old-fashioned supply and demand both from local residents and those outside the city from the GTA. Average condo prices in the core areas of Kitchener-Waterloo and Hamilton rose 22% and 39%, respectively, in 2017 from the year prior. The appreciation of house prices in big cities, such as Toronto, is pushing homeowners westward to Kitchener-Waterloo and the Hamilton area. We’re not complaining - the more the merrier! However, even with double digit price growth, does that still mean our cities are good value and as a result, good investments? Enter Toronto and Vancouver.

Would you spend half a million dollars on a one bedroom condo in Toronto? Yes, we really did say a ONE bedroom. Let’s us ask you another question. What if we told you this unit was just a mere 430 square feet? And in Vancouver, half a million dollars would buy you almost nothing at all. The average house in our expensive (yet, still lovely) west coast Vancouver is $757,000. Surprising? This compares to only $381,000 in Hamilton and $319,000 in Kitchener. We recently met up with a few real estate friends in Toronto and they were joking that the Kitchener-Waterloo and Hamilton condo markets were still on sale at 50% off. As proud long term locals of these two cities, we’re admittingly a little biased, but in many ways our friends aren’t that far off.

As our cities continue to become increasingly urban and even more interesting places to live, the lifestyle argument of living in a bigger city becomes narrower and narrower. Sure, there are many things to still love about big city life (Go Leafs go) but drop into one of the many great new restaurants, spend a weekend at one of our many festivals or just top-up on some caffeine or craft beer in one of our many hip cafes and craft breweries and it’s easy to see why so many people love these cities. Round that out with the entrepreneurial, tech and art energies that play such a huge role in our community and it is easy to see why so many people love living locally and feel like there’s still so much room to grow.

If you’re looking to truly experience authentic condo lifestyle living, perhaps in the downtown core of Toronto, for many, your only option would be is to settle but let’s be honest, who wants to settle? Whether investing, downsizing or looking for your first place, looking for your piece of the real estate market in Kitchener-Waterloo or Hamilton can give you significantly more buying power than in bigger cities like Toronto and Vancouver. This means, for a lot of our young professional clients and first-time home buyers, not only can you buy sooner, you can also buy smarter. Helping you leave room to invest in other ways, such as more real estate, more into your RRSP, or just doing more of what you like to do most. Unlike bigger cities, that $500,000 that bought you a 430 sq.ft. 1 bedroom unit, can easily buy you a 900-1000 sq.ft. + 2 bedroom or 2 bedroom + den unit in Kitchener-Waterloo or Hamilton. Not only that, those without $500,000 to spend can actually get into the condo market rather than continuing to rent and trying to save for a sufficient down payment while the market continues to appreciate and become increasingly less affordable. Brand new units in Kitchener-Waterloo in Hamilton can be found from less than $250,000 and older units on the resale market can be had for even less. Interestingly as well, rents for luxury condos and lofts in the core areas are also very strong, sometimes even being competitive to rents you would find in areas of these bigger cities. So as an investor, monthly cash flow and your returns on buying a unit locally are often strong as well. So, have we reinforced your decision to buy a condo in Hamilton or Waterloo Region yet?

Waterloo Region used to be accused as being “plain Jane” and Hamilton was often referred to as nothing but a steel town. Now, people can’t resist Hamilton and KW’s affordable lifestyle, awesome local amenities, diversified economies and vibrant cultures we get to call home. The areas are vastly growing and urbanizing with many unique new condo developments and loft conversions in distinct neighbourhoods that offer something for everyone. If you haven’t been into one of our condo real estate stores yet, swing by and we’d be happy to take you through everything new and upcoming. We’ve brought all of the local condos and new developments together into one spot to help you compare all of the options in an casual setting that is welcoming, inviting, educational and even fun.

We also serve up some mean espressos and lattes while you search so if you’re in the mood to hunt for a condo this weekend and stay warm, drop in to any one of our stores and say hello. You’ll leave enlightened on everything going on in the local condo market and very happy you did.

Have a great weekend everyone.


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