|Rank||Neighbourhood||Area||Average home price (2017)||Value||Momentum||Average price vs. area||Avg. price vs. metro district||Avg. price vs. outer region||1-year price change||5-year price change||Final Star Rating|
|15||Bradford||Bradford West Gwillimbury||$707,044||23.61%||47.22%||102.1%||116.13%||75.0%||11.32%||60.3%||★★|
|18||Rural New Tecumseth||New Tecumseth||$737,000||9.72%||29.17%||140.4%||126.99%||82.0%||-11.41%||39.4%||★½|
Simcoe County’s top 3 neighbourhoods to buy
1. Angus, Essa
Not sure where Angus is located? You’re probably not alone. In fact, until a few years ago, few home buyers would’ve known that Angus, Ontario is a thriving small city located just 15 minutes west of Barrie and 90 kilometres north of Toronto.
So, how did Angus, Ont., make it to the top of our Where to Buy Real Estate ranking in Greater Toronto list—and the top of the Simcoe Area list?
Four words: GTA real estate boom.
In 2015 and 2016, the Greater Toronto Area was competing with Greater Vancouver for the unofficial title of hottest real estate market in Canada. According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, 2016 was one of the most active years on record for sales activity and for record-breaking housing prices. Even after the introduction of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan in the spring of 2017—and its multiple attempts to slow market activity—selling prices still kept climbing, with the average price in 2017 up 12.7% compared to 2016.
What did buyers do? They started extending their search parameters out further and further. Once, an hour’s drive would have seemed unthinkable; now it’s become the standard. Then came the idea of commuting from another city—so Hamilton and Barrie became popular choices, particularly given their highway accessibility and GO Train services. But when demand starts growing in these satellite choices, what’s a buyer to do? Search out the next affordable spot. Enter the city of Angus in Simcoe County.
Just 15 minutes southwest of Barrie, this small city offers housing stock from old post-war bungalows, to dated rancher-style one-storey homes, to new builds with multi-car garages, to homes on large lots or acreages.
For families, Angus appears to be a great option. The average house price is just over $500,000, which is 20% lower than the average in Simcoe County, and almost 50% cheaper than the GTA average. Better still is how many young families currently live in the city. According to Census 2016, approximately 20% of the population in Angus are children under the age of 14.
Angus boasts a population of just over 8,700 people, many of whom work in agriculture, which is the region’s largest employer. (In particular, potato farming.) But it’s the army presence brought by CFB Borden that really sets the tone for this city. Despite the somewhat transient nature brought by military families being posted and relocated based on training schedules, the base and its service personnel are a constant in the area. On average, CFB Borden trains 20,000 military personnel annually, and employs approximately 3,250 military members and another 1,500 civilians. The predictable turnover of personnel along with consistent employees has provided a stable place for businesses and services to set up shop, and it helps to make Angus more than just a bedroom community for Barrie and Toronto commuters.
Buyers who bought a year ago will be happy, given that the average appreciation for single-family homes in Angus is 13%. To put this in perspective, only 11 out of 133 Metro Toronto communities experienced a one-year average price increase of 13% or more.
Better still is the five-year appreciation for homes in Angus. Based on averages, single-family homes in Angus have grown in value by 88% over the last five years. That puts this agricultural and military community high up on the list for both momentum as well as value.
2. Lisle, Adjala-Tosorontio
Not surprisingly, the No. 2 neighbourhood in Simcoe County is another community just outside of Barrie.
Barrie experienced some of the biggest growth in the last decade and this has pushed demand for home ownership in this city.
While Adjala–Tosorontio is a predominantly rural area southwest of Barrie, it offers buyers a chance to have easy access to the city, while spending weekends canoeing on the Nottawasaga River or hiking in through its rolling hills.
But buyers will need to adjust. The commute is a 120-minute drive to Toronto (half that to downtown Barrie).
Like many of the small villages and hamlets in the Adjala–Tosorontio area, Lisle grew from the settlement of Irish Catholics who named their hamlets after their home towns in Ireland, or after prominent pioneer families who first settled the area. (However, “Tosorontio” is a Huron word meaning “Beautiful Mountain,” while Adjala is a tribute to the wife of Chief Tecumseh, for whom the neighbouring township, now called New Tecumseth, was named.)
Last year, Lisle was in the No. 3 spot, so it’s not too surprising it’s jumped to No. 2 this year. Realtors like it for the diversity of property types and the solid long-term price appreciation the area offers. Buyers like it because the pricing makes it so much more manageable than a single-family home in Metro Toronto.
While prices depreciated by 8.4% from 2017 to 2018, the five-year growth rate still sits at just under 167%. For buyers, this could mean that the community’s frothy reaction to the too-hot GTA market in 2016 and 2017 has corrected. Talk to a local Realtor to get in-depth context.
3. Alliston, New Tecumseth
Last year, Alliston in New Tecumseth took the No. 16 spot. This year it’s jumped to No. 3 in our Simcoe ranking. The primary reason for this rapid ascent is that the one-year price growth for this community was nearly 20% (five-year growth is just over 71%).
Buyers should expect to pay about 40% less than the average price of a GTA home, but keep in mind that a major employer in that area—Honda—is in an industry facing a large number of headwinds, including slow global economic growth, potential U.S. steel tariffs, and forthcoming carbon tax legislation, to name a few. If Honda was to close down its plant here, that decision would certainly impact the town negatively even though a large percentage of people are still employed in the agricultural sector.
But a little uncertainty can’t quell the excitement from residents of Alliston. As the largest community and the “industrial core” of the Town of New Tecumseth, Alliston has grown its population significantly over the past decade as more and more families and individuals choose to make this “rurban” setting their home. This trend in population growth is expected to continue throughout the next decade, as the province has designated the community of Alliston as an Urban Growth Node. This is great news for buyers who want a single family home in a small-town community with big-city access.