I’ll buy that! Windsor in the middle of a housing boom.
Craig Pearson
The Windsor Star

Windsor is enjoying a mini-housing boom with 20 per cent more startups than this time last year.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released a report Monday saying that Windsor housing starts were trending at 777 units in July, compared to 685 in June.

“The economy in Windsor is starting to pick up,” said Erica McLerie, a CMHC senior market analyst. “There are more manufacturing jobs. The population has started to increase a little after some years of negative growth. Things are starting to turn around.”

McLerie said all types of new housing are being built, as well, including single-detached, semi-detached and townhouses.

“Retirees are moving to the area,” she said. “They can move out of their home in the GTA (greater Toronto area), buy a house in Windsor, and have a lot of money left over to have a good lifestyle when they retire.”

According to the CMHC, the average price in July for a new single-detached home in Windsor was $360,000, compared to the average across the province of $643,000 , a number heavily skewed by high Toronto prices.

“We have the lowest new housing prices in the entire country,” said Ben Klundert, president of the Greater Windsor Home Builders Association. Combine that with five-year interest rates at three per cent or lower, and he thinks Windsor looks like an attractive area to buy — as current sales suggest.

Klundert calls the new housing market the best he has seen in a decade.

“Definitely, the market has gone up substantially,” Klundert said. “This year is on pace to double what it was last year for us.”

Klundert said 2003 and 2004 were the last years that his company, BK Cornerstone Design-Build, managed to construct 60 to 70 houses a year. He thinks 2014 will match that — and not just for his company, either.

“I talk to new builders all the time and we’re all looking for trades people because there are just not enough to do the work right now,” he said. “Up till last year, I could get cabinets made in four weeks. Now the minimum wait is eight weeks, and that’s for a contractor. A private person is looking into next year.

“They’re swamped with business.”

Klundert thinks the reason for the turnaround, which started in earnest in April, is pent-up demand. He figures home owners have been waiting years to see prices go up so they could get a better return on the house they already own.

In fact, Klundert said the new housing sales are fuelled by an even more robust re-sale market.

“The re-sale market is going crazy,” said Bob Peters, a Valente real estate agent who has worked in the business since 1987. “I have probably done more multiple offers above list price in the last six months than I did in the last five years.”

One extreme example: Peters recently put in an offer on a home that needed a lot of work, for $52,000 higher than the list price of $129,000. His offer came in third. Within a few days the home sold for $190,000.

“In recent times it was much more of a buyer’s market,” Peters said. “Any decent home priced fairly sells right away now.

“This is the best I’ve seen the market since the ’80s.”

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