The number of vacant homes in Canada is falling for the first time in 20 years, which should probably come as no surprise to anyone house hunting in Toronto right now.
Across Canada, there are currently 1.3 million unoccupied homes, according to Statistics Canada. However, while that number sounds high, it’s actually the lowest it’s been in a decade.
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A March 15 report by Point2, which covers real estate market trends, shows that vacancy rates fell in 87 of the 150 most populated cities in Canada. Sixty Ontario cities were included in the study, of which 33 saw a big drop in the number of unoccupied dwellings in the last decade. Windsor is currently in first place, with a 38% drop.
The top five Ontario cities where vacancy rates fell significantly between 2011 and 2021 include:
- Windsor -38%
- Whitchurch-Stouffville -38%
- Lakeshore -34%
- St. Thomas -34%
- Welland -33%
Meanwhile, 26 Ontario cities saw their vacancy rates increase, with Sault Ste. Marie seeing a 61% jump in unoccupied dwellings. Here are the top five cities with the biggest increases in vacancy rates between 2011 and 2021:
- Sault Ste. Marie 61%
- Caledon 54%
- Burlington 54%
- Aurora 54%
- Richmond Hill 49%
Even with measures taken to reduce the number of vacant homes (such as Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax and the Underused Housing Tax proposed in 2021), the report suggests that vacancies could be mostly due to newly constructed homes waiting for their new owners or tenants.