HGTV host explains why Mississauga houses are becoming more popular amid the pandemic

 

Although the pandemic has pulverized a number of industries, it has left Mississauga's red-hot housing market intact and has, if anything, made houses in the growing city even more attractive—especially since the city still offers a number of larger homes with bigger lots.

"Pound for pound and dollar for dollar, if you're looking at a $1 million house, that million will go much further in Mississauga than it will in Toronto," says Rizwan Malik, Vice President of Sales at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada and one of the hosts on HGTV Hot Market.

"If all the stars align on a great day in Toronto, $1 million will get you a 60- or 70-year-old semi-detached house on a 15 by 17-foot lot that needs extensive renovations. That's striking gold. If you put that money into Mississauga, you're buying a large, detached home on a 25- to 35-foot lot. That's where Mississauga fares extremely well." 

While homes in Mississauga are far from affordable, the city boasts less costly real estate than nearby Toronto.

According to data released by the Toronto Region Real Estate Board (TREBB), the average home price in Mississauga rose by 8 per cent year-over-year to $878,276 and the average price of a detached house rose 6 per cent year-over-year to $1,265,747. 

Similarly, the average price of a semi-detached house also increased by 13 per cent to $848,990 and the average price of a townhouse increased 11 per cent to $664,274. The average price of a condo apartment in Mississauga remained relatively flat year-over-year, averaging out at $536,435--a 2 per cent tick up from last year.

Compare that to Toronto, where the average detached home price hit $1,470,857 in October. According to TRREB, a Toronto semi currently costs about $1,154,087, a townhouse costs $1,068,860 and a condo costs $668,161. 

Mississauga also offers relatively young subdivisions made up of low-rise family homes, which is appealing at a time when prospective buyers—many of whom will be working from home indefinitely—are searching for more indoor and outdoor space. 

"I live in Toronto and I love it, but if I had to choose between raising children in a large detached home in Mississauga or a small semi downtown, I would [choose Mississauga]," Malik says, adding that buyers who choose Mississauga can also avoid additional municipal taxes.

"There's the huge allure of getting more space and you also save on land transfer taxes. In Toronto, you pay the city and the province. In Mississauga, you just pay the province." 

Malik says that while there has been some disruption in the GTA condo market (there are fewer international students, tourists and long-term tenants to rent to due to COVID-19 restrictions, so there are more units on the market), buildings in Mississauga can sometimes differ from some downtown developments in important ways. 

"When it comes to Mississauga, developers need to focus more on space. In Toronto, you can get away with no dining rooms or parking spots, but in a city like Mississauga, you need to offer parking with every single unit," he says. 

"An entire building in Mississauga will sell out, but studio units will move very slowly." 

He's not too concerned about a downturn in the condo market, even though the city has a number of developments—M City, Exchange District, Brightwater, Lakeview Village and Square One District—coming down the pike. 

"In the long run, condos will do perfectly fine as long as they're built to meet the needs of people living in and moving into Mississauga. To be honest, it would be foolish to consider Mississauga a suburb because it's thriving and people are recognizing it as a city on its own. All of these master-planned communities will make the city better known on the Canadian stage." 

That said, Malik says he's concerned about new developments boasting tiny 400 square foot units in a city where most people still live with their families rather than alone. 

"The new condos are quite tight and Mississauga is still a family-oriented city, so it's important for people to have space for a dining room table to gather at night. It'll be interesting to see how these smaller units do. This pied-a-terre thought process is more for downtown where it makes sense." 

Malik says that, at this point, condo owners shouldn't worry all that much about losing money in their investment. 

"Condos will bounce back," he says. 

"No one can predict what will happen, but in March, April and May, nothing moved, nothing happened and prices skyrocketed again. Condos could suffer more in Mississauga than freehold [homes], but if the market takes a turn for the worst, every home type will suffer. If the market goes down, you can stay in it and it'll eventually go back up. Our market has been so robust and so strong, there's no sign of it slowing."  

Malik says that although it's difficult to predict how the market will fare as Ontario enters the second wave of COVID-19, it's impossible to deny that Mississauga has a lot going for it in terms of neighbourhoods and amenities. 

"In and around the City Centre, that area is in great demand. It's close to GO Transit, Square One, and the 403," Malik says.  

"Creditview has big, beautiful principal homes and the incoming LRT and other amenities will further enhance the area's desirability. An area like Port Credit has lots of charm and lots of character."

Malik also says that the city doesn’t just benefit from being more affordable than Toronto, it also scores points for being close to the Big Smoke. 

"The city has proximity to Toronto and when things do open up and go back to normal, people will be able to drive into the city to see the Jays and Raptors, as well as plays and concerts. Having that proximity and the ability to just take an Uber back, that's why Mississauga is sometimes more ideal than Orangeville or Georgetown or even Milton," he says, adding that people who move further and further away from Toronto often find the commute to the 416 difficult. 

"Some don't mind the commute, but if both parents in a family work in Toronto, the commute is just horrendous." 

As for what people can expect from the market going forward, Malik says it'll interesting to see how people adapt to the new COVID reality. 

"The market as a whole might see a bit of a downturn in the coming months as things open and then close again. We had a lot of government intervention [in the first wave] with CERB and mortgage deferrals and that bought us time. With that drawing down now, the COVID realities will hit and we'll see how people will behave going forward. Real estate is slower to react than stocks and bonds. It's going to get softer." 

That said, Malik says people shouldn't shy away from entering the market when the time is right. 

"The summer market was the last hurrah to get a high [selling] price and now we're winding down for the year with the holidays coming up. This year, our [hot] market might last until the end of November because not at all kids are in school. You might want to try to get in early next year if you're a first-time buyer," he says, adding that Mississauga will likely remain a popular destination regardless of what happens over the coming months. 

"People are happy here. Mississauga offers a lot of opportunity for people who want more space and a yard."

Cover photo courtesy of RE/MAX

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