The national average home price outperformed its previous record for September, logging a 17.5% annual increase to $604,000. This trend is heavily influenced by high-priced sales in the Greater Toronto Area and Greater Vancouver regions. The MLS® Home Price Index also jumped by 1.3% month-to-month and 10.3% over the previous year.
While housing demand remains high across the board, Adil Dinani, founder and principal of the Vancouver-based Dinani Group Real Estate Advisors at Royal LePage West Real Estate Services, has witnessed an uptick in interest specifically for single-family housing.
“[In] the new environment that everyone is in, people are prioritizing what’s important to them in a home,” he said. “We’ve seen a meaningful shift and a meaningful increase in the number of inquiries for our detached homes and for our ground-oriented townhomes and garden-level condominiums.”
In July, Statistics Canada predicted the proliferation of remote work could shift demand from condo apartments to single-family properties, which tend to offer more space. Dinani explains the need for home office space has certainly changed—for buyers looking in the detached and townhome segment, a home office is imperative. Even for condo seekers, there’s a need for additional space for working from home.
“In the short of it, yes, we are seeing a shift towards townhomes and detached homes, and that market is extremely busy,” said Dinani.
As city office towers remain quiet, Dinani explains many buyers who previously needed to live closer to urban centres for work-related reasons have geographically altered their home search. So long as the home meets their requirements, Vancouver buyers, in particular, have been setting their sights east of the city.
“We’ve had calls saying, ‘Now we can go from East Vancouver to Burnaby,’ because the requirement to come into the office is likely once a week or once a month even,” explained Dinani.
Highrise condo towers with shared elevators and closed amenities have prompted buyers to seek out detached homes offering additional privacy and personal utilities. The backyard, Dinani says, has become a highly-coveted feature. In most home searches, even if a backyard is not available, some form of outdoor space is critical.
Buyer preferences also play a role in what home features are the most attractive.
“If it’s a couple and they’re both working professionals, the office is pertinent for them to get utility from the space because if they’re working from home, they need a space to do that,” said Dinani. “If it’s a couple with a child, an outdoor space or a backyard becomes super important.”
Buyers might be fixated on single-family homes for now, but interest in condominiums hasn’t vanished completely and won’t anytime soon. Dinani explains boutique condominiums have become more desirable recently—fewer units in the building make it easier to physically distance, while fewer amenities represent a trade-off for more personal space and lower maintenance costs.
As conversations with clients have increasingly revolved around having a private front door versus an elevator as of late, there’s still a large percentage of buyers who want the convenience of downtown city living, Dinani says.
“I think now while we’re seeing some softness in that market, savvy folks are looking at the potential opportunity. Of course, everything has to align—it has to be the right building, the right location,” he said. “If all of those factors align, we are still seeing demand on a well-priced product, it’s just not the same as we were experiencing previously.”