The fastest growing house prices in all of Canada last year? Kingston, ON

Large urban centers tend to get all the attention when the discussion turns to hot real estate markets, but regional centers like Kingston are where the real growth is. Or has been, at least in 2021.

A report from Royal LePage says secondary markets in Ontario have seen greater price appreciation than the GTA, Canada’s largest metropolitan area, but are also having capacity issues.

“If you look at Windsor, London, Kingston and Belleville, the country’s secondary cities are growing faster than the GTA, but that trend dates back to around 2015 when we introduced the suburban concept,” said Phil Soper, CEO of Royal LePage, STOREYS said. “The challenge in our smaller towns, like Cambridge or Kingston, is that they are growing so fast that it’s all about capacity and they can’t keep up with the demand.”

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New construction, hampered by a supply chain that cannot deliver materials quickly enough and a labor shortage, cannot keep up with demand, Soper added.

Single-detached home prices rose 38.1% year-over-year in 2021, the highest price in Canada. The city’s growth is perhaps all the more surprising given that Ontario has become the country’s largest donor of people, who move primarily to Alberta, Atlantic Canada, British Columbia and Quebec.

“It was a real change that seems to be a combination of a prolonged work-from-home trend and a shift to affordable areas,” Soper said.

Bill Stevenson, realtor and owner of Century 21 Champ Realty in Kingston, says home prices in the city have jumped about 50% since 2019.

“It was starting to head into a seller’s market before the pandemic, but not wildly like it is now,” Stevenson said. “If you come back in 2018, you could buy things by asking. In 2020, there were only one or two offers, but not 23 as there are today. Then you should have exceeded the request by $10,000, not $260,000 more.

Kingston is home to Queen’s University

Demand is too high in Kingston and has spread to nearby towns of Belleville, Trenton and Brockville. Stevenson explains that 10 years ago it was a buyer’s market, with six buyers for every 10 homes, but today there are probably three homes for every 10 buyers. Still, scenic waterfront properties in Kingston trade for far less than in Muskoka, Stevenson says.

“Every house that comes up has bids and there is a bidding war on everything. It’s not just here. I had an offer on a spot in Brockville and there were 15 offers,” he said. “I had another house in Prescott just before Christmas and there were 12 offers.”

Kingston is about halfway between Montreal and Toronto, and in addition to being about a few hours from Ottawa, it’s also close to the US border. Stevenson says the quaint town is popular among retirees and professionals in their prime.

“It’s a much calmer way of life. A lot of people want to move here because there’s less stress in general in these smaller places like Kingston, and that’s another attraction for people.

Written by
Neil Sharma

Neil covered housing and real estate for several years as a Toronto-based journalist. Prior to joining STOREYS, he was a regular contributor to the Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, National Post, Vice, Canadian Real Estate Wealth and several other publications. Do you have a real estate history? Email him at [email protected]

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