Moving to Niagara: A Realtor’s Perspective
December 4, 2020.
Locals know there’s a lot to love about Niagara. See why a number of real estate professionals are seeing an increase in individuals moving to plant roots in Niagara. So, you’ve just returned from a weekend getaway in Niagara. From the quaint town of Niagara-on-the-Lake nestled within the heart of Ontario wine country to the hip downtown core of St. Catharines, and all the social scenes in between, you may be tempted to search for homes in the area. You know, just for fun, right? What you may be surprised to find is the affordability of the housing market in Niagara, especially in comparison to the cost of living in large urban centers like Toronto. Now that the temptation of a less citified life is setting in, you may be asking yourself, where do I start?
We spoke with three industry-leading real estate professionals to gather their advice for those who may be considering moving to Niagara.
What should prospective home buyers take into account before considering moving (buying)?
Before a prospective buyer considers moving, they “should speak to their financial institution or a mortgage broker before approaching the real estate market,” says Isaac Phillips, Sales Representative Royal LePage State Realty. “Knowing what one can afford to purchase helps manage expectations, and avoid disappointments,” Phillips adds. He also encourages searchers to “consider driving around the area to get a sense of the community, amenities, and other things that are important to them,” such as how far are they willing to commute for their perfect home.
Click here for a list of questions to consider before moving.
Why should prospects consider moving to Niagara?
When asked why prospects should consider moving to Niagara, Alison Wills, Sales Representative with Re/Max Welland Realty said, “Niagara as a whole is growing and is still a reasonably affordable place to reside. It has great access to highways which allow for easier commutes for some to larger cities such as Hamilton, Mississauga, Oakville or Toronto.” In addition to recreational activities for young adults and children, growing families, and seniors, Niagara houses “hiking trails, restaurants, sports clubs, beaches, tourism and nightlife, and historical grounds (to name a few) adds Kristen Beneteau, Real Estate Agent for Revel Realty. Once you have decided on moving to Niagara, consider who else is moving there and if the amenities provided align with those you require.
Who is moving to Niagara?
“Everyone,” says Phillips. “Niagara has become a popular destination for people of all ages and backgrounds” adds Beneteau. While families can purchase a larger home for an affordable price, “retirees are attracted to the smaller communities that cater to a more relaxed and refined lifestyle,” she continues. Niagara truly has something for everyone and continues to grow and evolve to fit the lifestyles of individuals at various life stages. Before moving, it is also important to consider the selling price of homes in your desired neighbourhood.
Are homes selling close to, over, or under the listing price?
As Niagara’s popularity increases, many listings are selling over asking due to multiple offers, though a fair number of properties are still selling at, or even below, asking price. “It truly is a seller’s market,” Wills adds. With multiple-offer situations on the rise, buyers are offering over asking to secure their bids. “If priced well, properties are selling quickly and typically over asking, however not all properties are getting over asking,” Beneteau confirms. Several factors influence the final selling price, such as the number of buyers in a specific buyer pool, listing price, and the number of properties for sale in that price category and neighbourhood. The average price for a single-detached home in Niagara is $491,000 according to the Niagara Association of Realtors (NAR).
What types of properties are most popular with new buyers?
Phillips certifies that “each homebuyer has specific needs.” He adds that while “single-family detached homes are always in demand, some new buyers appreciate condo (townhouse) living,” where amenities like lawn maintenance, snow removal, and exterior repair costs, such as roofing, are included as part of monthly condo fees.
What are the benefits of buying a fixer-upper vs. a move-in ready property?
As outlined in our cheat sheet, buyers should consider their comfort level completing renovations. While new homes are “the right choice for buyers that do not have the time to remodel their own home,” says Phillips, Wills adds that “if you’re able to purchase a fixer-upper and are a handy person who can complete the work needed over time, your return will likely be higher over time.” Kitchen and bathroom updates offer the highest return on your investment.
How long is it taking to sell a home on the current market?
According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), in September 2020 the median days on the market is 11 compared to the same time last year when the median days on market were 21. In addition, it is also important to list or purchase your home at optimal times.
When is the best time to list a home for sale? When is the best time to buy?
While there are pros and cons to selling at different times of the year, “spring is popular [for listing] as weather is nicer, prompting more buyers to look at homes with greener grass and seasonal blooms,” Wills says. Arguably, there is more competition due to increased spring-time popularity, “so it could be argued that [purchasing in the] colder months is a good idea […] with less competition” she adds.
Should a seller provide a home inspection for the buyer?
While not necessary, a seller may provide a completed home inspection for the buyer. If the seller is looking for a quick close, it may benefit them to provide a home inspection. Though, “most buyers who want an inspection done [will want it] done by a source they trust,” specifies Wills.
What cities in Niagara are most popular for homebuyers?
Location, location, location. What amenities are of importance to the buyer will determine what municipality will be the best fit. For instance, “homebuyers with a commute may want to purchase [a property with close access] to the QEW to shorten commute time,” such as Grimsby or Lincoln, indicates Wills. For first-time homebuyers, “Welland continues to be a popular choice […] as it offers more affordable housing and a younger population,” adds Beneteau. She continues, “Fonthill, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and St. Catharines remain popular amongst retirees and those looking to downsize.” Port Colborne, Wainfleet, and Fort Erie are popular for those in search of a “small town” feel.
Finally, we asked Beneteau, Phillips, and Wills what advice they would offer those considering moving to Niagara. As Niagara continues to be a budding real estate market, it also is a great place to live, work, and play for various ages. “As someone who grew up in Niagara and knows the area very well, I can say with confidence that it is one of the best places to raise a family and meet amazing people,” certifies Beneteau, who also emphasizes the importance of finding a real estate professional who has a diverse knowledge of the Niagara market.