Niagara Wine Area Benefiting From Toronto Housing Shift

  • Niagara price growth outpacing biggest Canadian cities
  • Millennials looking for space to raise family driving factor

The Niagara Region, home to vineyards, peach orchards -- and detached houses with yards -- has become the latest target for Canadians’ mad scramble for housing.

Transactions in the region, which is a two-hour drive from Toronto and includes Niagara Falls, jumped 20 percent in July from a year ago with the average price rising 17 percent to C$317,830 ($246,150), according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. The price jump was the most for any region in the country. Homes in Thorold, with a population of 20,000, are sitting on the market half as many days as last year, according to the Niagara Association of Realtors.

“It tells you the average price is getting so out of hand in Toronto that they’re coming here for better value," said Patrick Dummitt, president of the local real estate group and a sales agent in the area. One of the biggest groups driving the demand are new couples and even single millennials, Dummitt said.

Some outlying regions in Canada are heating up as sales and prices in Toronto and Vancouver, the country’s two priciest cities, cool. A lack of inventory and soaring prices which have driven the average cost of a detached home in those cities to more than C$1 million have residents buying elsewhere and braving the commute.

From January to July, transactions jumped 40 percent in Victoria, British Columbia, a 1.5-hour ferry ride from Vancouver, and in the Fraser Valley, another outlying region. That compares with a 14 percent jump in Vancouver for the first seven months of the year compared with the year-earlier period.

“That’s a pretty good indication that the strength in the core of those markets is spreading out," Robert Kavcic, senior economist at Bank of Montreal, said by phone. “For detached homes specifically, they’re almost non-existent in the core. People are looking for detached. There’s nowhere else to go. We keep hearing populations are going to adapt and you can raise kids in a one-bedroom condo, but you just can’t."

(An earlier version of this story corrected the home price and superlative in second paragraph.)

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