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  • PLACES TO SETTLE IN THE GTA


    By amit kalia




    The Canadian housing market continues to benefit from still-low interest rates and a very solid jobs outlook. With the another interest rate increase on Dec 6, 2005, the home prices should remain in control. The central bank also signalled that more rate increases will be needed to rein in inflation as the economy grows.

    If the home prices keep on rising it can affect the affordability for the first time home buyers looking for a freehold property (detached homes, semidetached homes etc). The first time home buyers may wonder on what emerging frontier they'll find their future home. If the prices keep on rising, the only affordable solution can be the condominiums (townhouse, apartments, stacked townhomes, row house etc.). And the truth is that almost 40% or more home sales in the GTA has come from the condo market, as per the Toronto Real Estate Board. A growing condo market, where price growth has remained well contained, continues to be an affordable alternative for potential homeowners.

    It is being predicted that the average home prices will continue to climb, but at a much slower pace, say at 5-6% in the coming year.

    As per the recent survey by Royal LePage for the year 2006, the three most affordable cities to buy housing will be Regina ($138,000), Winnipeg ($152,000) and Halifax ($202,800), while the three most expensive cities to buy real estate are expected to be Vancouver ($469,700), Toronto ($364,000) and Calgary ($283,400).

    Soaring land prices, Ontario's greenbelt legislation, the protected Oak Ridges Moraine and infrastructure issues will all influence where development goes next.

    And if the first time buyer wants more living space and prefers a freehold property there seems not many options, but to move elsewhere, as seen in the USA. We live in an automobile society. People are going farther out. Fuel costs have not begun to have an effect yet. Most of the first time buyers that I had been working with lately, were able to find a decent under 5 years build 2500 sq ft detached home in Milton or North Brampton that was almost 30-35% lower in price than a similar property in Mississauga.

    Some suburbs that will florish in the coming years include Bradford, Barrie, Oakville, Milton, Burligton, Acton, North Brampton and Oshawa.

    Most of Oakville is built out, but a large tract of land is due for development in the north. The 2,800 hectares include everything north of Dundas St. and south of the 407, and is the last urban area in the official plan. Over the next 20 to 30 years, it's targeted to house 50,000 to 55,000 people.

    And the Region of Halton has not yet started construction on sewer and water systems, which will be needed to accommodate new development.

    Mississauga is nearing the end of its life for suburban development. There is some left in the Ninth Line corridor, from Winston Churchill to Ninth Line. It's becoming denser and there's a lot of condo highrise projects. Churchill Meadows is about the only big project left and it will be built out soon. In next 4-5 years, Mississauga will be out of the suburban housing game.

    However, Brampton is fastest-growing community in the GTA has been producing 5,000 to 6,000 new housing units a year for the past few years. As one housing expert predicts that the population in Brampton, which was just over 400,000 in 2004, will reach almost 520,000 by 2014, which would be the second-highest increase in central Ontario. As Brampton grows, pressure will mount on communities to the north, such as Caledon, Mayfield and Bolton.

    Downtown Toronto, of course, will not see any suburban-type subdivisions except more of high-density projects that aren't highrise

    York Region faces a major, short-term stumbling block: a lack of sewage and water capacity. But Newmarket and Aurora are almost built out, and Richmond Hill's in the same situation as Mississauga, in that it has some property but no big communities will come on stream. Markham's got some big new home communities, but they will be built out over the next few years.

    Vaughan has lots of land available, and as per one housing expert's projections it will be the third-fastest growing municipality in central Ontario from 2004 to 2014, with its population increasing from 230,719 to 293,760.

    Farther north, new housing projects are coming in the community of Bradford, north of Newmarket.

    Barrie's even farther north but, surprisingly, it will continue to enjoy significant growth. It's a pretty good location to build a house and commute to jobs in York or Peel, then go home to where you are close to boating, swimming, etc. People love it. It's one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the country. New housing activity and development is starting to occur in Collingwood, south of Barrie. Collingwood's former shipyards are being redeveloped into a residential and commercial project that will have more than 600 housing units.

    Areas east of the city will continue to enjoy steady housing growth, though not quite at the same pace as the west, says one housing expert. That's because most business tends to be oriented toward the U.S. border.

    Whitby, among the most rapidly growing areas in Durham Region, ranks ninth in population growth in central Ontario over the next decade and Pickering 10th. Pickering is pretty much built out, except for some condo and infill projects. In the east, Ajax, has been flourishing, with some large communities under way. Ajax is very hot, partly because of its ease of access to Toronto and its wealth of amenities. As per a housing expert, Pickering, Ajax and Whitby will all face a shortage of urban designated land within five years.

    Home buyers will see a lot more in Oshawa, Courtice, Clarington and Newcastle, as per one housing expert, especially when Highway 407 proceeds farther east. He points out that the Neighbourhoods of Windfields Farm, a large community launched by Tribute on the famous Windfields Farm thoroughbred racing operation founded by E. P. Taylor, has been the most successful housing project in Oshawa's history.

    And there are several major developers in Bowmanville and Newcastle Village, which has been a small, sleepy place until now. But due to the lack of availability of land elsewhere, it's going to grow, and more GTA buyers are buying there.

    What comprises Greater Toronto Area? See Maps below at Canadian desi


    Below are some housing experts' views on the areas outside the GTA:

    We're going to see further movement out to the Golden Triangle, which includes Kitchener, Cambridge, Waterloo and Guelph. You'll see further development in the Hamilton area to the west, too. Cambridge as a growth area, with about 25 to 50 per cent of that community's new homebuyers working in Mississauga. Hamilton is a hot spot, which indicate the city will rank eighth in central Ontario growth from 2004 to 2014, with its population projected to increase from 519,734 to 557,501. Brantford will be a growth area within the next couple of years, with easy access to Highways 403 and 407, it's a reasonable trip into Toronto.

     


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