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Why your perception of Windsor is all wrong

by Corben Grant on 13 May 2022

In the Ontario real estate market, it seems like Toronto gets all the attention, but in reality, there are so many different areas beyond Toronto and the GTA that present great opportunities for investors. The problem is, it can be hard to buy in a city if you don’t know much about it. Take the City of Windsor for example, where the real estate market has seen a huge expansion in the last couple of years and has received a lot of attention from investors. However, those with outdated perceptions of the city may find themselves missing out on all the great things the city has to offer.

We spoke to Rhys Wyn Trenhaile, a proud Windsorite and lead broker at The Vanguard Team, about some common misperceptions that investors have about Windsor, why they may be wrong, and the bright future the city has to look forward to.

According to Trenhaile, because he works with a lot of interested investors from areas like the GTA, he often hears the misconceptions that some hold about the city.

“When I first started in the business 20 years ago, a lot of investors from the GTA seemed to think Robocop and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were patrolling Main Street, that every house was burned down and you could buy them for a dollar. I couldn't get my head around it,” recalled Trenhaile. “There was this weird dichotomy between the awesome quality of life we have done here and what the biggest city in Ontario thought we had, which was rubble and garbage. In fairness, their perceptions do seem to be a lot better now, and the more sophisticated investors understand that, the more the city continues to improve massively.”

In contrast to these misconceptions, the reality in Windsor is far more pleasant. The city is the 10th largest in the province by population and is near the U.S. border and the neighbouring city of Detroit. The city has a strong economy and, though it is known as the automotive capital of Canada, it has also diversified much in recent years. Windsor also appeals to a wide range of residents. Some come for educational institutions like the University of Windsor, others are retirees looking for a great place to settle down, while even more new residents come from immigration, making Windsor the second most ethnically diverse city in Canada – right behind Toronto.

The city gets notably better weather than the GTA, some of the best in Canada, despite being only a few hours south, leading to summer lasting six weeks longer. And, on top of all this, thanks to the proximity to Detroit, Windsor residents can enjoy the benefits of a big city without the downsides.

“There is something special and unique about the fact that you have all the advantages of living in Canada: better education, better healthcare, a more fair judicial system, etc.” says Trenhaile. “Plus you get all the advantages of living in a mid-sized city, which has less traffic, a lack of crime, and less pollution.”

“But here's the kicker, you also get all the advantages of not only a big city, but a big American city, which has more amenities than big cities anywhere in the world. Detroit has the second-largest theatre district after New York City. It has the fourth-largest Art History Museum which holds several of the world's masterpieces. Shopping choice is like nothing in Canada. It has all the professional sports teams, the festivals, the fantastic restaurants – and it’s all 20 minutes away.”

Windsor presents a great case for why you would want to live there, but how does it appeal to investors? There’s actually a lot of good news on that front as well. 

One of the biggest factors that bring investors to the city is housing affordability. Windsor is one of the most affordable cities in the province. The average sale price in April 2022 was about $690,000 according to the Windsor-Essex County Association of Realtors, around half the average price in Toronto. This makes for a great entry point for new and established investors alike and the city still has room to grow, making the future prospects quite nice.

“Windsor has some of the most affordable housing of any major city in Canada, as a percentage of household income,” says Trenhaile. “What that means to me, from an investor's standpoint, is the safety of the investment. You have room for rent growth and you have room for property growth because our incomes can handle increases in both.

“Another advantage to investors is that Windsor is a classic unappreciated market. There are plenty of Torontonians that won’t come down here because they still hold on to a 100-year-old stigma that hasn’t been true for 75 years, but that's okay. That is to your advantage because when people misperceive an area and don't invest, that just opens up a huge opportunity for you.”

As for some of the options available to investors, Trenhaile says there is just about something for everyone. Smart investors can find success in Windsor with a multitude of different strategies, and newcomers, as well as established investors alike, can reap the benefits.

“We're one of the few major cities left where you can still cash flow in any income property sector, provided you buy the right property. So, if you want to focus on duplexes and four-plexes, you can do that and you can build cash flow and build your portfolio accordingly. You can employ a BRRRR strategy – we've got a handful of clients doing this and they're killing it.”

“I also really like condos right now in Windsor,” Trenhaile continues. “I find that they did not increase in price the same way as homes during the pandemic and one reason for that is the demographics down here. The people that are renting those condos, like university and college students and new immigrants, are going to be coming back in big numbers and it's going to drive up the prices in that segment. I really think through the remainder of 2022 and into the early months of 2023 that condos are a good option for property appreciation and Windsor is one of the few cities where you can still be cash flow positive on a condo.”

With much more room to grow for the housing market, combined with a growing and diversified economy and new infrastructure and business developments, the future of Windsor is sure to prove the doubters wrong and, hopefully, usher in a new era of positive associations to supplant the old misconceptions.

If you are interested in investing in the City of Windsor, Rhys Wyn Trenhaile and his team are eager to help you make the most of your opportunities. With decades of combined experience and hundreds of sales a year, their team is trusted by investors and regular homebuyers alike to help achieve their real estate goals. Contact them at https://thevanguardteam.com/ or [email protected] and schedule a call today to learn more.



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