Toronto home values grew by over 28% in 2021 – but Brantford has it beat

by Corben Grant on 14 Jan 2022

It’s no secret that the real estate market has had a record year in Ontario. Most markets across the province have reported high double-digit growth in home prices and show signs of continuing at pace for a good while yet. And though the city of Toronto has attracted a lot of attention for its price growth, the nearby city of Brantford actually has it beat, reporting the highest year-over-year price growth for single-family homes in all of Southern Ontario.

We spoke to Adam DeGroote, a top local realtor from the Brantford area about what has made his city so successful this year, about how it stacks up against others nearby and what investors can look forward to for 2022.

According to the most recent statistics from the Brantford Regional Real Estate Association (BRREA), the benchmark price for single-family homes in the region rose to $737,800 in December 2021. This follows a long string of record-breaking months that have seen the price in this segment grow by 40.8% year-over-year.

To put this in perspective, in the GTA, detached homes rose by 30% in the same period while Hamilton saw increases of around 28%. Of the regional boards in Ontario, only the Bancroft Region reported higher yearly growth, though they had significantly fewer sales numbers. Bancroft’s location in the Northeastern Region of the province leaves Brantford as the main winner among the much more densely populated and hot Southern Ontario markets.

The story doesn’t end with single-family homes. Though that segment is still king Brantford, spillover demand from priced out buyers and interest from outside investors is doing great things for the city's other market segments as well.

DeGroote says that with a surge of single-family home values “comes opportunities for the other sectors to flourish as well.”

“Multi-residential in our city is red hot too,” said DeGroote. “We have so many investors coming in from out of town looking hard at our multi-units and older properties that can be converted to multi-units or basement suites. A number of first-time buyers go the route of buying duplexes or triplexes and living in one unit while renting the others to make ends meet and get their foot in the market. I strongly believe that we do have properties available that will work for any type of buyer.”

In terms of why Brantford had such an exceptional year, DeGroote had much to say.

“We are ideally located central to many larger Southern Ontario cities, along the highway 403 corridor and an easy drive to multiple U.S. border crossings. Because of this, many major and global manufacturers and distributors have relocated to the area, and with that comes strong buyer demand to live near work. We are also fortunate to have lots of room to expand outwards and building has been booming in our region with buyer demand skyrocketing and bringing up the average prices.”

Along with a desirable location, the relative affordability compared to nearby cities provides a major plus. With so many working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to find more space for a better price and still reach the office when needed is hard to pass up.

“The reality is that Brantford and the area are still much more affordable than the GTA, Hamilton and KW regions, so buyer's dollars go much further here,” said DeGroote. “You pay about 30% less in Brantford than the GTA and get a bigger yard on top of it. With a large portion of the workforce now working from home due to COVID, it makes a lot more sense for Buyers to strongly consider moving out of the big city where you can still commute easily when you need to and where you can have a lot more with most of the same amenities around.”

However, it isn’t all peachy in Brantford. The quiet town has now been gaining increasing attention from around Ontario and there have been some growing pains that came with such rapid growth. According to DeGroote: “As with anything that grows so quickly, there are certainly challenges that result.”

“Most locals are happy with the demand and the growth in their equity, but it does make it much tougher on one sector of the housing market: first-time home buyers. Brantford and the area is becoming tough for first-time homebuyers to afford and compete with other offers. That’s not to say it’s impossible for first-time buyers, but it is increasingly difficult with each passing week.”

“We also have the challenge of not being able to build fast enough to fulfill the demand that we are seeing,” DeGroote added. “We have the land and we have the builders, but material supply and regulatory delays pump the brakes a little on the new construction side of things.”

That being said, even with its challenges, the Brantford area shows no signs of stopping just yet. 

“I think Brantford has only just begun to show up on the map of major Southern Ontario cities,” said DeGroote. “I expect many more big things to come from Brantford and the area for many years to come. We have the land base, the industry, and the buyer demand to support much more expansion in and directly around our city.”

BRREA would be inclined to agree, indicating in their most recent report: “Given the current market conditions it should be no surprise to anyone that both average price and the HPI Benchmark Composite price posted another year over year gain in the 40% range. Without a significant uptick in the number of new listings in the near future, the current market conditions look to continue well into the first quarter of 2022."

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