Top places to buy in the Greater Golden Horseshoe

Housing affordability – it’s the stuff our water-cooler conversations are made of these days. This was also a hot topic in the most recent Financial System Review by the Bank of Canada, in which Governor Stephen Poloz pointed out, “large price increases are now being seen across the region, from Niagara to Peterborough.”

This sizeable swath of land is referred to as the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) – a relatively new name that’s replacing “GTA” in the home hunt, as buyers increasingly venture beyond the big city borders in hopes of finding greater affordability and more options.

The GGH covers almost 32,000 square kilometres and is home to large cities such as Toronto and Hamilton, rapidly growing suburban municipalities like Kitchener-Waterloo, and mid-sized centres and small towns such as Barrie, Guelph and Oshawa.

The GGH is Canada’s largest urbanized area and the economic engine of Ontario. With 9.1 million residents in 2011 (forecast to grow to 11.5 million by 2031 and 13.5 by 2041), the GGH is home to two-thirds of the population of Ontario and nearly one-third of the total Canadian population.

Those in search of their next home in the GGH will want to check out these hot spots.

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Hamilton real estate has finally made it to the big time. Long in the shadow of neighbouring Toronto, 60 kilometres down the QEW, and that city’s strong economy, booming condo market and skyrocketing housing values, Hamilton has been quietly building a reputation of its own as an up-and-coming real estate market for years. But no longer. Hamilton, you’ve arrived!

Sites to see…

  • Vista Condos by VanKleef Development Group
  • Television City condominium by Lamb Development Corp. & Movengo Developments
  • Central Park townhomes by Losani Homes
  • Summerlea Woods townhomes and detached homes by Empire Communities

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Economic growth in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge has outpaced Ontario as a whole for 10 of the last 11 years, according to the Conference Board of Canada, making it a top destination for newcomers. Indeed, demand for homes here is up, with 816 homes trading hands in May – another record month, according to the Kitchener-Waterloo Association of Realtors. Prices are following suit, so get in while you can!

Bonus: KWC dwellers will soon have access to a new LRT and improved GO Transit connections with Toronto and beyond.

Sites to see…

  • River Mill townhomes by Mattamy Homes
  • Westwood Mews townhomes by CountryGreen Homes
  • Victoria Common townhomes by Losani Homes

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Mass population growth, residential development and a declining vacancy rate has earned Milton a top spot as a place to buy, live and invest. With its population expected to double over the next 20 years, Milton has been dubbed the fastest-growing city in Canada. To be expected, it’s also experiencing some growing pains, with its population outpacing infrastructure such as transit and schools. On the plus side, this could present an opportunity for homebuyers to get in on this market, before these amenities are further introduced and prices go up.

Sites to see…

  • Panorama townhomes and detached by Andrin Homes
  • Pure freehold townhomes by Branthaven Homes
  • Hawthorne South Village Condos by Mattamy Homes
  • Saddle Ridge townhomes and detached homes by Greenpark & Starlane Homes

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Mississauga is far from the sleepy suburb it was a few decades ago. It’s Canada’s sixth-largest city, boasting a population of 721,599 as per the 2016 census. There are some big developments underway, set to transform the city even further – the Hurontario LRT and M City Condos, Rogers Real Estate Development’s $1.5-billion residential development coming to downtown Mississauga. These projects will heighten connectivity and spark further residential, commercial and employment growth – key ingredients to a booming real estate market. The city’s biggest downfall is similar to many others in the GTA – prices are seeing double-digit growth year over year.

Sites to see…

  • Mississauga Square condominium suites by Plaza
  • Wesley Tower at Mississauga City Centre condominium suites by Pemberton Group
  • Perla Towers by Pinnacle International, condominium suites

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Strong population growth has lured bigger and better job opportunities, with a growing roster of blue chip employers such as Coca-Cola, Barcardi Canada, Rogers Communications, Air Canada and Canon Canada setting up shop here.

Improving transit infrastructure will come via the Hurontario LRT, a 23-kilometre line running between Mississauga and Brampton GO Transit stations.

Like many Toronto suburbs, Brampton prices are rising rapidly, up nearly 20 per cent in a year-over-year comparison. This bodes well for existing owners and sellers looking to cash in, while creating greater demand for condos and townhomes among the first-time buyers.

Sites to see…

  • Mount Pleasant midrise condominium suites by Rosehaven Homes
  • Cobblestone South single-detached homes by Fieldgate Homes
  • Daniels FirstHome Brampton at Sunny Meadow townhomes by The Daniels Corp.

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Toronto is the place to be for employment, education and entertainment. Who wouldn’t want to live here? We’ve got some of North America’s top-ranked schools; we’ve got the TTC; we’ve got the Toronto Maple Leafs. The economy is humming along nicely. The challenge for homebuyers here is rising prices, dwindling supply and the recently announced Fair Housing Plan – though the true effects of the latter remain to be seen.

Sites to see…

  • Panda Condos by Lifetime Developments
  • Bianca condominiums by Tridel
  • Foxbar Collection at Blue Diamond condominium suites and townhomes by Camrost Felcorp
  • Concord Canada House condominiums by Concord,
  • Time and Space condominiums by Pemberton Group
  • Fleur condominiums by Menkes

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The city was recently named sixth most-lucrative place in Canada to do business, with its large and growing population, high household incomes and educational levels. A thriving technology cluster, combined with professional, scientific and technical services, finance and insurance, healthcare and other industries, bode well for continued growth.

York Region’s population is expected to grow to 1.8 million people and 900,000 jobs by 2041, the York Region Transportation Master Plan is key. Also, the Yonge North Subway Extension is planned to take commuters to Hwy. 7 in Richmond Hill, affording residents and commuters more transit options to alleviate traffic congestion.

The one challenge with Richmond Hill is high average home prices, which puts property selection and strategy at a premium.

Sites to see…

  • Richlands by Arista Homes, freehold townhomes, semis and singles
  • YongeParc by Pemberton Group, condominium suites
  • Jefferson Forest by Forest Hill Homes, townhomes and single-detached homes
  • Observatory Hill by Regal Crest Homes, townhomes and single-detached homes

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This area is one of the most affluent in the GTA, with high demand leading to fast rising prices. Average home prices grew 23.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, compared to the same period last year, according to the Royal LePage National House Price Survey.

New condo and townhome developments are increasing homebuying opportunities at various prices points, including for first-timers.

A large network of community centres, golf courses, schools and libraries make life in one of Canada’s most multi-cultural cities also rewarding, all contributing to a family-friendly nature.

Sites to see…

  • Cornell Rouge freehold townhomes and single-family homes by Madison Group & Forest Hill Homes
  • Trendi townhomes by Treasure Hill
  • Pace on Main condominium townhomes by Geranium Homes
  • Boxgrove Village townhomes by Arista Homes

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Cities outside of Toronto are experiencing high residential price growth, with Oshawa at the forefront. This smaller city saw among the biggest increases – up 28 per cent year over year, keeping pace with Toronto’s runaway prices. So, what makes this such a hot spot? Although home values are increasing (and fast), average prices are reasonable compared to Toronto standards.

Sites to see…

  • Kingsview Ridge townhomes and single-detached homes by Treasure Hill
  • Harmony Creek townhomes and single-detached homes by The Conservatory Group
  • U.C. & U.C. Towns 2 single-family homes and townhomes by Tribute Communities

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