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Not Toronto's bedroom

Durham Region moves beyond its reputation as Toronto's bedroom community

A commuter town. A sleeper community. Suburbia. Call it what you will, but the term no longer applies to the lakeshore communities that make up Durham Region. “This area used to be a bedroom community for Toronto, but not anymore,” says Don Campbell, president of the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN). “It’s really come into its own.”

The Alberta-based real estate market guru says he was pleased to find a growing community when he visited Durham for a tour in late August.“It is an area going through a positive transition,” he said.

In the last 10 years, Durham’s population has exploded, reaching close to 600,000 at the last census count in 2006. Much of the growth has pushed out of Toronto, as people opted for affordable housing at the cost of a longer commute to the office.

But Mr. Campbell says recent economic indicators point to the fact that Durham is moving away from being just a bedroom community for Toronto employees. In fact, the economics are so strong that REIN listed Durham Region among the top 10 places in which to invest in property in Ontario in its 2007 publication, distributed to real estate investors across Canada.

REIN toured the region several years ago to make predictions about potential growth and as they retraced their steps this year, Mr. Campbell says Durham has managed to live up to most of those expectations.

“This region, in fact, has outperformed what we predicted the last time we were here,” he said, adding that the area would not have climbed its way into the top 10 if it was just a bedroom community.

“Bedroom communities typically are cyclical in nature. They go up and down,” he said. “People can leave any time to new towns with equal access to their jobs in the main economic centre.”

Commuter towns are usually defined as those having no economic base of its own to speak of -- jobs typically centre around the service-based industry, such as grocery stores and restaurants.

But a thriving community is one that has its own economic centre that offers jobs in a variety of industries -- making it a solid choice for a real estate investor looking to capitalize on a property by holding on to it over time.

“If your job is in Durham Region, then living in Durham Region makes more sense,” Mr. Campbell said.

So what are the economic indicators that make REIN so confident in endorsing Durham as a place to invest?

“The lifestyle it offers, local job growth, the transportation links,” he says, rhyming off just a few of what he believes are Durham’s greatest assets.

REIN’s report on top investment areas gives Durham a thumbs-up for being an area where the average income and the average job growth are increasing above the provincial average. Another thumbs-up goes towards local political leadership that has “created an economic growth atmosphere,” the report states.

For investors, it seems to be good news all around.

Speaking to investors at the recent REIN real estate tour -- which took 240 investors from across the country on a trip through Pickering, Ajax, Whitby and Oshawa -- Mr. Nevin listed the neighbourhoods ripe with potential for investors.

“The potential is certainly there,” he said. “There are some good transitional areas that have all this development happening around them. They will eventually be influenced by that development.”

September 9, 2007 in Location, location, location | Permalink


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