If you’re in Canada’s major urban centers, “affordable” housing can seem an impossibility, but according to the Canadian Real Estate Association there are still options in almost every province that are cheaper than they were last year.
In it’s latest update, CREA says only two provinces have prices broadly up from a year ago: PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Everywhere else, there are still some relative bargains.
In British Columbia, the Chilliwack area on the eastern end of the Fraser Valley, prices in May were down 13.5 per cent from last year. By other metrics the area is more middle of the pack: CREA’s home price index (HPI) benchmark price puts the area at $710,799: better than the Lower Mainland and Greater Vancouver, though the Interior is still cheaper. Prices have appreciated some in the last three months but seem less sustainable than the busier metro areas.
At the benchmark price there aren’t many updated detached homes on the market even though you’re 100 kilometers west of Vancouver, though there’s plenty of townhouses, strata and manufactured homes with long-term leases to consider.
If you don’t need a lot of space there’s 46279 Third Ave., a tidy little two-bedroom cottage-style home in the middle of the city with about 860 square feet of living space. On the plus side it has a big back yard with a tree-house and large storage shed, and it’s been on the market for 134 days at $675,000.
Edmonton remains one of the cheapest and slowest-growing price environments among large cities in the country, with an HPI benchmark price of $362,400. Edmonton is up only 8.5 per cent from three years ago but is still down 8.8 per cent from one year ago. That long record of slow price appreciation might give you pause if you’re an investor, but for someone who just wants to live in a home they own it’s one of the more affordable big cities in Canada.
There are literally hundreds of detached homes under $375,000 in Edmonton though many are of the 1960s and 70s variety of ranch bungalows. If you want something a little newer on the city’s west side there’s the relatively new 14715 141st St. NW: a two-storey home built in 2008. Though it’s listed at $369,000 it has been on the market for more than 140 days. Unlike most of the neighbors, it has no laneway garage and a rather modest backyard.
Some of the steepest price drop-offs in the country have been seen in rural and recreational communities in Ontario such as Grey-Bruce-Owen Sound, neighboring Huron-Perth, the Niagara Region and Simcoe County. All of those areas have prices that are about 15 per cent off the peaks of a year ago but still see a benchmark price typically between about $500,000 and just less than $700,000. The two areas that are even further off the mark are Peterborough and the Kawarthas and the Windsor-Essex corridor where the benchmark price is down 17.6 per cent and 17.2 per cent respectively, the slowest regional recoveries in the country. Between the two, Windsor has the cheaper benchmark price of $545,700.
There are plenty of rental-investor options in the city – many of the larger home listings below the benchmark price Explicitly say so in the listing – and pictures will often include mattresses or cots in every rentable “bedroom.” Then there are homes such as the recently renovated Tudor-style house from the 1920s at 952 Victoria Ave. in the city’s center available for $499,000 – well below the benchmark.
Some of the cheapest homes in the country can be found in Quebec’s Mauricie region, which captures Trois-Rivières on the St. Lawrence and also contains loads of smaller rural and recreational communities. While the absolute dollar figure is low at a benchmark of $236,700, it’s one of the few areas of the country that’s still rising dramatically from three (70 per cent) and five (89.5 per cent) years ago. Most of Quebec has some of the best sustained price growth over the last five years but little Mauricie, with fewer than 300,000 people, is tops in growth in the province up 3.6 per cent from a year ago.
For benchmark prices you could get a four bedroom farmhouse in a small town or a bungalow in Trois-Rivières, but some of the nicest places under $250,000 are in and around Shawinigan, hometown of former Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
Just off the main drag is a charming little house built in 1911 and updated in 2020. 755-757 5th Ave. has a rental/in-law-suite attached as well and the renovation squeezes every livable inch out of the floor plan. Most importantly it’s just $249,000 and has been on the market for two months.
Perhaps the champion of affordability remains New Brunswick where none of the four regions CREA measures has an HPI benchmark price above $350,000. Oddly the most expensive part of the province may also have the best deals, because even though Greater Moncton’s benchmark is $313,500 it’s still falling month over month and is down 4.7 per cent from a year ago. On the plus side, it’s got the highest overall values compared to three and five years ago in the province, so there’s clearly still some demand there despite the current issues.
There are some pricier homes in the city and there are bare lots going for more than $300,000 in the Moncton region but there’s also some real bargains depending on how much space you need. Take 360 High St., right in central Moncton: at $280,000 this two-bedroom, two-storey house is well below the benchmark and it has been recently refinished inside and comes with a big backyard.