RE/MAX | Ontario Housing Market: Prince Edward County Real Estate Trends 

Are city dwellers fleeing urban centres for rural communities? One of the most fascinating and perhaps unexpected trends emerging from coronavirus in the Ontario housing market is homebuyers leaving the big city for small towns. A plethora of recent real estate market data suggests people are swapping the 416 area code for one in the 905 or 613.

There could be plenty of explanations for this trend: new families being priced out of Toronto, the pandemic causing public health concerns about living in hyper-dense locations, and the new normal impacting how we work. If there is an exodus out of large metropolitan centres, where is everybody going? The list of hot new destinations is extensive, but one market worth noting is Prince Edward County. 

Affordable homes, more green space and a work-life balance are a few reasons why some households are making the switch to a rural lifestyle with urban flavour. Prince Edward County has everything you would want in a municipality, from a tight-knit community and abundant natural beauty, to a reputation as a cultural hotspot. The region draws in thousands of tourists each year who flock to the county’s wineries, craft breweries and prominent foodie culture. But do the numbers speak to an influx of families looking to call this municipality their new home? There was strengthening demand before the pandemic, and there is renewed interest amid the new normal.

Ontario Housing Market: Prince Edward County Real Estate Trends

The Prince Edward County real estate market has been on the rebound since the middle of April. Although there was a decline toward the end of June, housing activity has been on a steady increase in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on Prince Edward County MLS stats, in July housing prices advanced 77.4 per cent to an average price of $1.08 million. With lots of inventory in the area, sales activity was reinvigorated as about two-dozen properties were sold. It took between 20 and 25 days for a house below $1 million to be sold.

Market observers are forecasting that supply will continue to decline in the coming months, while sales will maintain an upward trajectory. At the same time, prices could top $1.1 million in August due to changing fundamentals in Prince Edward County.

Experts say that these trends are sustainable, primarily because borrowing costs are at historic lows, and the evolving office landscape is facilitating the push out of large cities. With businesses large and small adopting work-from-home policies, a lot of homebuyers do not need to be confined to one jurisdiction. They can pick where they want to live, no longer bound by proximity to job availability within the urban centers.

Why Relocate to Prince Edward County?

Until you’ve been to Prince Edward County, it’s hard to describe the magic and appeal of this small but diverse municipality. It’s not surprising that, as more Ontarians discover the charm of the County, real estate values have been creeping upward.

While predominantly rural, the County maintains reasonable proximity to amenities and urban centres; it is roughly a two-hour drive to both Toronto and Ottawa, and less than an hour’s drive to Kingston.

Within the municipality is an incredible, eclectic arts and culture scene. Wine and food enthusiasts enjoy an abundance of cheese options, artisanal ice cream parlours, dozens of wineries and vineyards, and 10 craft breweries.

Or perhaps nature is more of your thing. Some of the province’s best beaches are located in Prince Edward County, which hosts 800 kilometres of shoreline and three Ontario Provincial Parks.

Although the County may seem like an oasis for retirees, the area is attracting a wave of young professionals and families, many of whom have moved away from Toronto and the GTA.

What about the weather? Similar to the wine-producing region of Niagara, the climate conditions in Prince Edward County are more moderate, which is why the area is conducive to grape production: less humid than Toronto, less snowy than Ottawa, and a warmer summer breeze than Montreal.

The COVID-19 pandemic has afforded us the opportunity for introspection. With a lot of extra time on our hands to pause and reflect, we are beginning to reprioritise our values and goals, and this is shifting expectations for homebuyers.

In a recent statement, Sue MacKay, VP of Marketing at Empire Communities, spoke on behalf of residential developer in regard to the pronounced shift toward suburban or rural living:

“In response to COVID-19, we’ve noticed that many homebuyers are not only re-evaluating how they live, but where they live and what they need out of a home… homebuyers are prioritizing rooms in their home based on the unique needs of their family and new lifestyle. This has motivated new homebuyers to consider more affordable markets outside the Greater Toronto Area that offer more space and value, especially with interest rates historically low and with more Canadians working remotely.”

With industry experts projecting that this appetite for a slower, more balanced lifestyle will persist, these upward market trends in communities like Prince Edward County should be maintained well into the next season. 


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