Barrie’s rental housing market looks promising for investors, a new report contends. Steady population growth, expanding employment and postsecondary education opportunities and the ripple effect of Toronto’s soaring housing costs are highlighted among favourable trends.
As the urban anchor of one of Ontario’s predominant tourism and recreational regions, Barrie boasts a population of about 146,000 and is projected to reach 210,000 within the next 15 years. It is a service centre for rapidly growing Simcoe County, which now numbers about 480,000 residents. Two of the city’s largest employers, Georgian College and the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, are also identified as drivers of the rental and seniors housing markets.
Don Campbell, senior analyst with the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN) Canada, points to the narrowing gap between rents for one-bedroom and larger units as one sign of the market upswing. The city’s overall rental vacancy rate is projected to climb from the current rate of less than 2 per cent as new purpose-built supply comes onto the market, but then stabilize at a still landlord-friendly 2 per cent for 2018.
Tenants looking to move to homeownership may have fewer options, as the average sales price jumped 37 per cent between the first quarters of 2016 and 2017, to just slightly more than $520,000. They also face more competition as prospective homebuyers migrate from even pricier markets.
“Barrie has begun to attract a younger population,” the report observes. “This shift is influenced, in part, by an increase in the student cohort as the city experiences a growth in postsecondary education. The city’s ability to attract younger new residents is also influenced by Barrie’s growing reputation as a place for families and young, active professionals. With the reinstitution and subsequent expansion of GO train service from downtown Toronto, professionals can continue to work in downtown Toronto then end the day sitting by the lake (Simcoe) or in a much more affordable backyard.”
For prospective investors, the Barrie rental housing market also offers an even rarer attraction — matching residential and multi-residential property tax rates.