Dubbed the “Gateway to Cottage Country”, the City of Barrie has long been a popular draw for Muskoka-bound tourists as well as downsizers seeking a quieter pace of life.
However, the municipality has been enjoying a resurgence in demand due to the “spillover effect”. Buyers from neighbouring Toronto have increasingly set Barrie in their sites for its picturesque communities, lake-side lifestyle, and comparatively affordable real estate; Barrie homes for sale went for an average of $494,488 in March compared to $830,043 in the 416, while sales ticked 12% higher year over year.
“Barrie has experienced a tremendous amount of growth over the past decade, ” says Isabel Fonseca, a Zoocasa real estate agent in Barrie. “It is no longer the commuter town it used to be and now offers the best of both worlds: a close-knit community experience plus services that rival those found in large Canadian cities, including great schools and state-of-the-art medical facilities.”
Fonseca says that this transformation is attracting more first-time buyers and young families to the area, which has in turn spurred the growth of boutiques, restaurants, music venues, and other lifestyle amenities, particularly along the Lakeshore. Further, a growing number of companies are opening up offices and transferring their employees to the area, which along with the Canadian Armed Forces Borden base close by has created demand for rental properties in multiple neighbourhoods. As a result, investors looking for relatively affordable opportunities outside the GTA are now paying closer attention to Barrie.
Barrie Supply and Demand Remains Balanced
Despite this increase in demand, much of the Barrie market was considered balanced in the first quarter of the year with a sales-to-new-listings ratio of 49%. This indicates nearly half of all new listings brought to market between the beginning of January and end of March were sold, which helped stabilize upward pressure on prices.
In fact, according to a new study by Zoocasa, 10 of the city’s 11 main neighbourhoods can be classified as affordable for buyers earning the region’s median household income of $77,904.
To find whether home prices in each neighbourhood are aligned with incomes, the study sourced average sold prices for homes that changed hands between January 1 and March 31, 2019, from the Barrie and District Association of Realtors. It then determined the minimum income required to qualify for a mortgage for the average home in each neighbourhood, assuming a 3.75% interest rate, 20% down payment, and 30-year amortization.
That minimum income amount was then compared to Barrie’s actual median income of $77,904 to determine whether prospective home buyers enjoyed an income surplus or gap. A higher number of income gaps indicates overall unaffordability within a market, while income surpluses mean buyers are able to purchase homes without maxing out their borrowing power, indicating incomes have kept pace with real estate prices.
10 of 11 Barrie Neighbourhoods Can Be Considered Affordable
Based on the study’s methodology, the neighbourhood of Innishore was the only local market where buyers faced an income gap; a minimum income of $86,100 would be required to purchase the average home priced at $604,510, a difference of $8,295.
Home buyers looking for the best affordability should set their sights on City Centre, where the average home priced at $393,179 can be purchased on a minimum income of $56,065 – leaving median-earning buyers with a surplus of $21,839.
The neighbourhood of Lakeshore is the second-most affordable with an average home price of $431,019 leaving buyers with a surplus of $16,444, while Sunnidale is third with an average home price of $439,245 and a surplus of $15,271.
Check out the infographic below to see how home prices align with median incomes across the City of Barrie:
Penelope Graham is the Managing Editor at Zoocasa, and has over a decade of experience covering real estate, mortgage, and personal finance topics. Her commentary on the housing market is frequently featured on both national and local media outlets including BNN Bloomberg, CBC, The Toronto Star, National Post, and The Huffington Post. When not keeping an eye on Toronto's hot housing market, she can be found brunching in one of the city's many vibrant neighbourhoods, travelling abroad, or in the dance studio.