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Shifting Real Estate Trends in Tiny

by Irene Wilson

The Tiny Cottager Fall/Winter 2018

The Boomers are coming, the Boomers are coming!

Oh my, they have arrived in droves, meandering around looking for their ideal retirement home or cottage as they plan their escape from the ever increasing population density and traffic of the GTA. Tiny has been discovered and word has spread. A large migration of European refugees after the Second World War contributed to this population boom. This demographic has had major impacts on housing, health, employment and lifestyles as they age, which are being felt in Tiny. Here are several examples.

A building boom

Tiny has natural appeal: larger lots, farm fields, Simcoe County Forest, environmentally protected lands that preserve the beauty of nature, plus the longest shoreline in Simcoe County. In the last two years alone, building permit values issued by Tiny Township have more than doubled, from $24,944,000 in 2015 to $52,799,000 in 2017. However, the boom may be slowing down as there is now a shortage of reasonably priced vacant lots. Existing owners are tearing down those sweet classic Georgian Bay cottages and replacing them with 2,000 square foot plus “dream” homes with garages and landscaping.

Higher home prices

There has also been a substantial increase in sale prices, for a number of reasons:

• supply and demand, as inventory levels are historically low. Properties often sell within days or weeks if priced at market value. The 2017 bidding wars in Tiny — a spillover from the GTA — led to higher expectations among sellers in 2018, and some overly optimistic pricing.

• buyers cashing out of the GTA market, looking for a retirement property, and willing to pay a premium for the “right” place.

• the cost of construction has steadily increased due to our declining Loonie, new energy efficiency requirements in the Building Code, and a trend toward larger homes with upscale finishes. Master bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms and walk-in closets are today’s standard. Additionally, good tradespeople are charging more for their services because of high demand.

Here are two examples of how prices have increased in the past three years:

• a 1600 sq. ft. new raised bungalow in the Lafontaine beach area, with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, hardwood flooring, granite countertops and attached double car garage, sold for $379,000 in August 2014. The same model sold in March 2016 for $395,000. In July 2018, a similar resale home sold for $569,900.

• in 2015, basic cottages of 1000 sq. ft. located in the north end of Tiny with 80-100 feet of waterfront, no basement and electric baseboard heating sold in the $380,000-$430,000 range. Many were sold for lot value and have been replaced by new homes. In today’s world, it is difficult to find any basic cottage or a “tear down” to compare with 2015 prices. Most waterfront sales in the past year were in the $1,000,000 plus range, but were fully winterized and 2,500 sq. ft. Or larger, with high end finishes.

Established communities such as Whippoorwill and Copeland Creek with their 1- to 3-acre properties, larger homes and convenient proximity to Midland or Penetang have seen strong sales over the past three years.

Lack of affordable housing elsewhere

It’s not just Baby Boomers who have driven up demand. Young couples in the GTA are moving farther out to find affordable housing in communities like Barrie, which has a GO Train and bus service. Consequently Barrie families seeking that small town feel are moving to hamlets like Wyevale. Large lots and spacious quality built homes with municipal water and surrounded by forests and farm fields make it an idyllic setting.

Limited availability

According to the Southern Georgian Bay Real Estate Association, 2015 marked an 8-year high in the number of sales, followed by a 30% surge in 2016 and a slowdown of 20.3% in 2017 due to a shortage of listings. Listings are now at their lowest levels since the 1990s and down 14.5% from 2016.

Changing expectations and priorities

Peel and stick tiles, faux wood paneling (that vaguely resembled wood after a couple of glasses of wine), plywood kitchen cabinets, small bedrooms and electric baseboard heating were typical of “home built” cottages built in the 1960s and ’70s. Newer homes constructed in the past 10 years have trended towards 1500-2000 sq. ft. raised bungalows with three bedrooms, two baths, hardwood floors, granite counters, etc. This has dramatically increased the “average” sale price in Tiny. Buyer priorities have also shifted: many are now purchasing retirement homes. The newer, the better so that they don’t have to worry about maintenance. Municipal water and natural gas heat are preferred, along with locations convenient to town, shopping and medical services.

If you are thinking of selling in the future, a wise idea is to have a real estate professional in for an appraisal and advice on how to increase your home’s value. There are many simple and cost-effective tips, such as decluttering, a good cleaning inside and out plus some basic staging. Make finishing all those maintenance projects on your “to do list” for years a priority. You may be pleasantly surprised at the price appreciation of your home or cottage.

Irene Wilson, a Director of the Southern Georgian Bay Association of Realtors and Chair of Education Committee, is also a Sales Representative for Georgian Bay Dream Team, Remax Georgian Bay Realty Ltd.

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