Ensconced within southern Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Halton Region has long been a highly-sought real estate destination. Offering close proximity to the City of Toronto for commuters, as well as a quick getaway to the wine country locales of Niagara Region, Halton residents enjoy a unique mix of lakeside access, the ample natural features of the Niagara escarpment, as well as urban dining and shopping amenities.
Home buyers will find a wide variety of neighbourhoods and home types across the region’s four towns – Milton, Oakville, Burlington, and Halton Hills – suited for every type of home buying budget.
In fact, according to Alex Kupiec, a Zoocasa real estate agent in Oakville and Burlington, as there are viable options in each municipality, buyers who are considering a move to the region but aren’t sure what neighbourhood they want to live in should “park and walk”. He suggests picking a couple of neighbourhoods to explore on foot over a few hours on a weekday after work or on the weekend to get a feel for the neighbourhood; doing so may help home buyers look beyond the data and learn whether they can see themselves living there over the long term.
How Affordable is Halton Real Estate for Median-Income Buyers?
As is the case in many of Ontario’s popular real estate markets, sales activity and average home prices are on the rise across Halton; a total of 668 transactions occurred in November of this year, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), marking a solid annual increase of 25%. Meanwhile, the average price rose 5.4% to $845,530 for the region as a whole.
With this burgeoning growth in mind, has Halton Region real estate remained within the realm of affordability for middle-class home buyers? To find out, Zoocasa crunched the maximum mortgage a median-income buyer would qualify for in Halton’s four major municipalities, based on the median home price as of November 2019, as well as the median income earned in each.
That mortgage amount was then compared to median home prices in each city to reveal the gap the home buyer would need to cover via a down payment. The study also crunched the number of years it would take a household to save for that down payment, assuming they set aside 20% of their income on an annual basis.
To determine the mortgage amount, it was assumed the borrower would qualify for a 3% interest rate and 25-year amortization. One per cent of the home’s cost for property taxes, and a $100-heating bill,were also factored in. (Condo fees, loans, and other debt obligations were not factored into the calculation.)
Best Overall Affordability Found in Halton Hills
The numbers reveal that, for buyers earning the town’s median income of $106,349, Halton Hills offers the greatest affordability. There, buyers would be able to purchase either a condo or townhouse unit with a 5% down payment. And, as the median home price for each is $499,000 and $474,000, respectively, they’d be able to save for the required funds on 1.3- and 1.1-year timelines.
While affordability grows considerably tougher for those looking to buy a single-family home, Halton Hills still has the shortest savings timelines to do so out of all of Halton’s townships. The median price for a semi-detached house costs $637,500, requiring a savings timeline of 7.6 years, while a median-priced detached house goes for $826,000, which would take said buyer 17.7 years.
Wide Range of Pricing Options Found in Burlington
Kupiec notes that Burlington has something for everyone. Its relative affordability, proximity to nature with Lake Ontario to the south, the Niagara Escarpment to the north, and national parks and hiking trails close by make it very appealing to first-time buyers who enjoy the outdoors. Additionally, short commutes to Toronto and Hamilton make it equally desirable to buyers who enjoy urban, city life.
According to the numbers, buyers looking for Burlington homes for sale who earn the city’s median income of $93,588 will find relatively good affordability in its condo sector, with the median-priced unit at $447,500, requiring just a 1.6-year savings timeline. However, that timeline jumps to 5.6 years for townhouses, which cost $525,000, and 16.6 years to save for a semi-detached home at $707,500. Detached houses would take a median-income buyer a full 31.9 years to save for, at a median price of $959,000.
However, there are numerous neighbourhoods with good value for those breaking into the market. According to Kupiec, neighbourhoods in north Burlington like Alton Village will appeal to first-time buyers looking for a modern style of home. These buyers can snag a one-bedroom condo apartment in the $400,000 range, with a lot of flexibility to move up to a townhouse or detached home. He notes that buyers along the northern border of Alton Village can also enjoy views of the Escarpment.
Similarly, the Palmer and Tansley neighbourhoods that are located just beside each other offer a range of options for young families jumping into the market for the first-time. In Palmer, buyers will find a number of older, split-level “fixer upper” homes built between the 70s and late 90s with a lot of potential, whether that’s townhomes and semis ($550,000+) or detached homes ($650,000+). Buyers looking for relatively newer builds may prefer to look in Tansley, where they will find homes built in the early 2000s in similar price ranges.
Oakville Offers Variety of Established and New Neighbourhoods
Oakville has a reputation for its mature, upscale neighbourhoods – but the town has also been a booming hotspot for newly-built homes in recent years, offering options for those shopping for more affordable Oakville homes for sale.
Kupiec highlights the River Oaks, Westmount, and West Oak Trails neighbourhoods, noting that buyers will find entry-level condo apartments in the $400,000 – $450,000 range, with the opportunity move up into a townhouse ($650,000+) or single-family home ($850,000+) within the neighbourhood, causing minimal disruption to their lifestyle or the amenities they enjoy. Further, Kupiec notes that new development north of Dundas Street may appeal to first-time buyers and investors looking for newer, turn-key homes in well-planned communities, particularly those willing to prioritize newer design plans slightly over square footage.
Those earning the city’s median income of $113,666 will get the biggest bang for their buck in the multi-family sectors; with the median-priced condo unit costing $537,000, buyers could be moving in within a 1.4-year timeframe. Townhouses are similarly priced at $592,500, requiring a 3.7-year timeframe.
However, that steeper price tag for single-family homes pushes them well beyond affordability for this income group. With a median price tag of $1,174,550, buyers would need to save for 32.2 years for a detached house, and 13.1 years for a semi-detached at $792,000.
Milton Remains a Solid Option for Entry-Level Housing
However, such buyers would be looking at a decade or more of saving to afford single-family homes; the median-priced detached house in Milton costs $897,500, requiring a 22.3-year timeline, while semi-detached options fetch $728,500, requiring 13 years to save up the necessary down payment funds.
Median home prices for November 2019 were sourced from the Toronto Real Estate Board. Median total household incomes were sourced from Statistics Canada. The maximum mortgage affordability is based on buying the median-priced home on the median income, the mortgage “stress test” rate of 5.19%, a 25-year amortization, and carrying costs of 1% in property taxes and $100/month for heating. Calculations were made using the Ratehub mortgage calculator: https://www.ratehub.ca/mortgage-affordability-calculator. The minimum down payment required is the difference between the home price and the maximum mortgage available if the down payment was 20% or more of the home price. If the minimum down payment is under 20%, the max mortgage amount includes the mortgage insurance premium.
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