Buying Guelph real estate: COVID home buyer trends

In March, about 4.7 million Canadians were working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, says Statistics Canada. Closer to home, those who lived in Guelph and were used to commuting to Toronto suddenly found the highways empty. But how has the pandemic shaped the way we live in Guelph, or get others to consider Guelph real estate?

Guelph homes with pools, hot tubs or home offices are hot right now.

Having a home office is not new, many companies have had somewhat flexible work situations for as long as the laptop has been around. However, since the pandemic forced so many people to work from home, companies realized that they can do it effectively. Is it for everyone? Definitely not. But if you’re shopping for a new home, it’s now a valid consideration.

But what else does this mean for those who want to buy a house in Guelph?

Have we started to see home buying trends as a result of this pandemic? Definitely!

“Residents of Toronto, especially those in condos who were held back from the Ontario Governments Phase 2 and 3 are interested in the Guelph real estate market. They have been working from home for months and realize that their money goes a lot farther and that they don’t need to be right downtown anymore” says Ryan Waller, Sales Representative with Home Group Realty.

There are some clear trends with buyers who were searching Guelph homes on MLS. 

“People are calling after searching on realtor.ca and ask us if we have homes with pools. Or hot tubs. That didn’t happen a year ago. Basically, anything related to spending more time at home is in huge demand”, says Waller.  Guelph homes with pools, Guelph homes with offices, South Guelph homes and East Guelph homes are all in demand. In particular Guelph townhomes and semis were popular.

It seems as if there is a mass exodus from the GTA in all directions, as long as you’re close enough that you can go into the office when and if required. If buyers are able to work from home, many of these employees may be happy to “drive until they qualify” to outer suburbs or smaller communities, which drives up prices in the Guelph housing market as well as many others within an hour of the GTA.

With mortgage rates at historic lows, many home buyers in Guelph are qualifying for more and pushing up prices in an already hot market. Multiple offers on homes in Guelph, where it historically has happened on only a few occasions in the past, are causing many buyers to become frustrated. 

“Certain price brackets are more aggressive than others”, Waller says. If you talk to Guelph real estate agents about buyers in the $500K- $700K range, they’ll tell you. It’s not unusual at times in July and August to have more than 10 offers on homes. “We even had a listing at $1.2M recently that had 6 offers in the first 72hrs”. Beth and Ryan, who write for GuelphToday, published an article in August that was widely shared on social media about the current Guelph housing market.

“The shock is likely taking an enormous toll on the next cohort of first-time homebuyers, whose ability to save for a down payment has been impaired,” says a report by RBC Economics.

But not everyone is buying in Guelph.

Some are selling in Guelph and moving to areas that have cheaper housing in a massive trickle down effect known as down pricing. Down pricing means selling your home, buying something cheaper and pocketing the difference. GTA buyers are doing it in Guelph and Guelph sellers are doing it in cheaper markets.

But no one is predicting a total collapse of the market. In Toronto, a recent survey by Ispos Reid for the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board found that home-buying intentions have remained “quite stable,” suggesting that there is pent-up demand and many people will be looking to buy a home once the recovery begins.

How long will it continue? “As long as there is more demand than supply” says Waller. “Guelph has been struggling to get more than 3 weeks supply of homes for some time now- anything less than 2 months is still a strong sellers market”.

Beth and Ryan Waller are authors of the WallerReport, a monthly quick read that gives a few extra stats for their followers.  

Photo by Raphaël Biscaldi on Unsplash

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