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Red Hot Real Estate Markets: Durham Region, Ontario

It’s been over a week since Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Toronto Mayor John Tory met to discuss how they might cool the red hot real estate market in the Greater Toronto Area, and yet real estate in the GTA seems hotter than ever before.

As interest continues to exceed housing availability, would-be homebuyers are seeing housing costs soar from Clarington to Barrie to Waterloo, and Hamilton. However, there are some towns, cities and regions that seem to be especially hot. Today, we’re taking a look at one such red hot real estate market in Ontario: the Durham Region.

Higher Prices and More Competition

To get a closer look at what’s happening in real estate throughout Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, and Oshawa, spoke with one of Durham region’s most respected real estate professionals –Brenda Seymour of Sutton Group Heritage Realty. As a full-time realtor serving Durham Region and East Toronto since 2007, Ms. Seymour has been on the frontlines experiencing the dramatic changes to the market in recent years.

Most notably, the cost of housing is the big change on everyone’s minds these days.

“The average Durham home prices are up 42.5% year over year (March 2016-2017),” Seymour explains.

Along with the higher cost of housing, home buyers in the Durham Region are also experiencing the frustration of multiple offers and bidding wars – challenges many people once believed they would never face in Durham’s charming bedroom communities.

“There are now a lot of speculators investing in Durham Region,” Seymour explains. “Our house prices have always been lower than those in areas equal distance west and north of Toronto.  As a result, agents are bringing buyers in from all areas of the GTA.”

While comparatively lower housing costs are certainly a major selling point, there is a lot more to what’s drawing homebuyers from all across the GTA. Homes in Durham can offer  expanded square footage, both indoors and out on properties, that so many homeowners value.

Durham is also filled with vibrant green spaces, parklands and a sprawling waterfront. Increased infrastructure is creating new jobs and easing the commute to Toronto. The Durham region is also quite multicultural and very family-friendly. Residents here enjoy a wide array of festivals and events, such as the Pickering Village Jam Fest, Whitby’s incredible Food Truck Frenzy, and the Durham Caribbean Festival, to name a few.

A Bourgeoning Investor’s Paradise

With its proximity to Toronto and easy commuter access via Highway 401, the Highway 407 extension, and the GO Train, certain communities in the more westerly areas of Durham have become popular among those looking to purchase income properties.

“I have noticed an influx of properties being purchased and listed to rent in South Pickering and South Ajax communities,” Seymour says. “Many investors feel that these areas have the best potential return on investment given their proximity to the lake.  Some speculate that these areas could be the next Oakville.”

These waterfront communities in Pickering, Ajax, and Whitby have become highly sought after by longtime Durham residents looking to upgrade, and among potential homebuyers from other parts of the Greater Toronto Area.

Proceed with Caution

Whether you’re looking in Durham Region, or elsewhere in the GTA, you may be in for a fairly long uphill battle to get into that home you’ve been dreaming of. There’s a good chance you may end up in a bidding war, or 2, or even 20 plus.

Here are Brenda Seymour’s top 5 tips for frustrated, potential homebuyers:

  1. Have your finances in order (this is especially important since some sellers request a preapproval letter with your offer)
  2. If a home inspection is critical for you, have one done before the offer presentation date
  3. Make informed decisions on your offer price –If the house doesn’t appraise for your offer price, are you in a position to cover the shortfall?
  4. Persevere – the right home is waiting for you
  5. Work with an experienced realtor

Ask any realtor working in the GTA these days and they’ll definitely advise that working with a pro is the best way to go.

“An experienced agent can identify possible issues on a property that could affect financing or insurance,” Seymour says. “We can minimize a buyer’s risk and help protect you in this crazy market.”

When choosing a realtor to help you find the home of your dreams, remember that experience is not just how long they have held their license.  Experience is quantified in the number of transactions they have performed, as well as how they keep up with the latest tools and technology.

If you’re interested in learning more about buying a home in the Durham Region, you can contact Brenda Seymour of Sutton Group Heritage Realty Inc. online at, by phone 905-619-9500, or via email

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