Oakville's condo offerings

Residents of Oakville, Ont. will be the first to admit that they have the best of both worlds. In fact, in a recent survey of residents, 86 per cent said Oakville is a better place to live than anywhere else in the GTA. And when you take a look at Oakville, it's easy to see why. Residents of Oakville are only a 30-minute drive from Toronto's downtown, making it an easy commute to work, yet they live in an area renowned for its beautiful green space, its safe streets and high quality of life.

The average household income in Oakville is estimated at $89,000, about $25,000 more than comparable GTA figures. Oakville also offers first-rate facilities and amenities and home to over 2,400 acres of park space, many with groomed hiking trails, and a recreation centre, which provides programs for all ages.

For boaters, Oakville features two picturesque harbours with docks and slips for sail and powerboats. It really is a destination suited for anyone, from singles and families to empty-nesters and retirees.

It's also a great place for professionals looking to work their way up the corporate ladder.

Oakville's strong and diversified economic base offers an excellent location for both new and expanding businesses. Currently, over 260 national and international corporate headquarters represent automotive, technology, business service, aerospace, pharmaceutical and tourism sectors.

For all these reasons and more, it's easy to see how Oakville continues to attract more residents to its region. The current population is 183,700, however projections for 2021 see the population rise up to 229,500. This boom in population will have many new residents looking for a place to live. However, with the average price of a single-family home sitting at $599,504, as of June 2011 (according to the Oakville/Milton District Real Estate Board), many first-time homebuyers will not be able to enter the real estate market. The condo market, however, is giving these first-time homebuyers - along with empty-nesters, single professionals and even families - a chance to break ground on an amazing investment opportunity.

Who's buying

Due to the more affordable starting prices of condos versus single-family homes in Oakville, condo buyers range from first-time homeowners to the move-down empty-nester market as well as investors.

"First-time homeowners like the price and the ability to enter the Oakville housing market; the move-down empty nesters are looking to move out of their large family home and into something smaller with less maintenance and lots of amenities; and investors are coming in two forms: those looking to acquire additional revenue-earning properties and local baby boomers who are investing ahead for their children," says Paul Golini Jr., executive vice-president of Empire Communities and Chair of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association).

Condo buyers are also residents with a desire to live close to amenities such as easy access to highways (QEW, 403 and 407), and public transportation (GO Transit, VIA Rail, & Oakville Transit). For families, Oakville public and private schools rank among the top in Canada. Neighbourhoods range from suburban with pastoral walking trails and playing fields, to shopping areas such as Old Oakville, Bronte and Kerr Village with their international restaurants, unique boutiques and welcoming cafes.

The condo market

The condo market in Oakville is extremely varied. It ranges from 1950s low-rise one-bedrooms starting at $150,000 to multi-million dollar palaces in the sky. And because of this large array of inventory, the average price of a condo in Oakville has been driven down.

From July 2009 to July 2010 the average price for an Oakville condo-apartment was $316,000 with 369 units sold with 41 days on market (DOM). From July 2010 to July 2011 the average price for an Oakville condo-apartment was slightly less at $308,000, with 292 units sold with 49 DOM. However, the reason for this downward trend of price is because in 2009-2010, the higher average price point was due to the large number of multi-million dollar condos sold at 111 Forsythe - Oakville's latest extreme luxury new build.

So, in actuality, the market hasn't really dropped in Oakville at all. In fact, prices are rising.

"From last year to this year, our market in a lot of areas has gone up 5% from the previous year," says Nolan Machan, sales representative and EcoBroker Update Royal LePage Real Estate Services LTD, Brokerage. "I sell lot of condos in various parts of town, and most complexes have gone up by 5%. What might have sold last year for $235,000 is now selling for $250,000."

The average rent for an Oakville condo is $1,800, which is higher than the typical rent paid for a similar sized property in a rental building. "This is due to a couple of factors: the current rental buildings are substantially older so the amenities such as walk-in closets, modern kitchens, central air, in-suite laundry are not standard, and the buildings do not have exercise rooms or swimming pools," says Machan. "So if a renter is looking for a property, which is modern, there are no other options then renting in a condo complex. The vacancy rate in rental building is virtually nil, and many of the properties have waiting lists."

In fact, vacancy rates in Oakville are extremely low at well under 1% - with only four weeks of inventory available at any one time. "For most of this past year, properties were leasing almost as quickly as they were coming to market. There has been little change from the previous year," says Machan.

To learn about what developments you need to watch for, pick up a copy of our November issue, on newsstands until Nov. 7.

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