Hamilton Spectator

Nearly one quarter of Hamilton area homes sold in the first three months of the year were purchased by buyers from the Greater Toronto Area, a new analysis of the local marketplace has found.RE/MAX — which sells about 60 per cent of the houses in Hamilton-Burlington-Grimsby — crunched its numbers in its Spring Market Trends Report to find that 23 per cent of the realtors were from the Greater Toronto Area.

Conrad Zurini, broker of record for RE/MAX Escarpment Realty, says the company believes in almost all cases the realtor and the purchaser come from the same city. It’s not possible to track the former address of buyers, but real estate transaction forms do contain the name of the selling realtor and the city he or she comes from.

Zurini says it’s not a perfect science — and not something that has been widely done in the past — but it does give insight into a major trend in Hamilton that goes some distance to explain why it is so hard to find a home.

When a Toronto buyer purchases a Hamilton house, he says, it’s a net loss to the local inventory, because that purchaser never puts a local home back into the market.

Moreover, Zurini said: “Increasingly, these are (Toronto) investors looking to purchase townhomes and small single-detached homes as rental properties (in Hamilton).”
He pointed to CMHC stats from last year that show a slight jump in the vacancy rate to 3.8 per cent from 3.4 per cent, compared to 2015.

He suggested a frenzy by Toronto buyers to purchase investment properties could be adding an inventory of new rental properties to the marketplace faster than demand.

Central Hamilton really jumped in the numbers. The vacancy rate went to 9.9 per cent in 2016, compared to 5 per cent the previous year. (CMHC defines central Hamilton as the area of the lower city from Highway 403 to Sherman Avenue, not including the downtown core.)

Lou Piriano, the president of the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington, says Toronto buyers are definitely making a major impact on Hamilton’s market.

“But making the assumption that in almost all cases the realtor and the purchaser come from the same city isn’t always true,” he said.

“It could be a Hamiltonian using a cousin who lives in Toronto.”

Last fall, Piriano said, the board took a hard look at its data to find 15 per cent of the city’s sales were being sold by Toronto realtors — somewhat less than the 23 per cent reported by RE/MAX, but still significant.