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SteelTown Jan 11, 2008 12:27 PM

Housing market
Condo lifestyle rapidly rising in popularity

The Hamilton Spectator
(Jan 11, 2008)

It's top dog, literally, in Hamilton's booming condo market.

Priced at $549, 900, the penthouse suite in the historic Pigott Building on James Street between Main and King streets is the most expensive condo now on the market.

While houses are still king in this area, condominiums are growing in popularity. Sales in the area -- Hamilton, Burlington and Grimsby -- grew by about 10 per cent last year. At 2,821, they represented about 20 per cent of the total resale market. There are 83 for sale right now. The majority of sales are in Burlington.

The Pigott penthouse isn't the most expensive unit ever to be sold in this city. Two other penthouses in a Mountain Brow building now under construction sold for a cool $1 million each.

SteelTown Jan 11, 2008 12:29 PM

Sitting on top of the city

Amberlee Mcateer
Special to The Hamilton Spectator
(Jan 11, 2008)

Sixty metres above James Street, Helena Donaldson has a unique view as she tidies the kitchen of her two-storey penthouse suite in the historic Pigott Building.

"The view from the top is simply incredible," she said. "I can see all of Hamilton.

"We can literally look from the escarpment right down to the bay. How amazing is that?"

Donaldson, a financial planner, and her husband George Seehaver, a steel fabricator, traded in their 10-hectare escarpment property about three years ago for the condominium lifestyle, after their four children grew up and moved out.

"We're busy, working people," she said. "I don't want a garden anymore. I want to be able to just lock the door and go to work and travel when I want."

The couple is selling their home in the Art Deco building near the corner of James and Main streets in favour of a larger condominium in Burlington with a rooftop terrace -- one of the few features absent in their penthouse suite.

The original gold and green elevator car opens directly into the two-storey Pigott penthouse, which has porcelain floors, gothic ceilings and a wood-burning fireplace. A wrought-iron staircase leads to the master bedroom, nestled in the very peak of the building.

With 32 windows in the 1,835-square-foot space, the views include the Toronto skyline and Hamilton's downtown. An iron beam in the living room is a reminder of the original structure, built eight decades ago.

Hamilton's first skyscraper, the Pigott's unusual architecture stands out. Constructed with New York City gothic style influences, the limestone building was used for offices until it was transformed into condominiums in the 1980s.

"This is definitely a unique space," said Carissa Spithoff, one of a dozen real estate sales people who have been showing the suite since September. "In terms of its view, history, architectural detail, this place is truly special."

In order to determine the $549,900 price tag, Spithoff said her agency looked at suites in Burlington, Oakville and Toronto because "there's literally nothing like it in this city."

Potential buyers, usually "young professionals or empty nesters," have included Stoney Creek dwellers and Torontonians.

SteelTown Jan 11, 2008 12:30 PM

Movin' on up

January 11, 2008
Steve Arnold
The Hamilton Spectator

The average price of a Hamilton-area home will hit $300,000 this year.

That prediction from the local real estate board comes after the busiest year on record when 14,400 homes changed hands for an average $272,800, up 7.5 per cent from 2006.

"We had a strong seller's market in 2007 and we're predicting exactly the same thing for 2008," said Ann Cosens, newly installed president of the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington.

Cosens said several forces are driving up local housing prices -- demand remains strong because the area's economy is performing well while the supply of houses for sale remains tight.

The local market is also getting a boost from "housing refugees" from the Greater Toronto Area attracted by the fact a house that sells here for about $270,000 costs $400,000 in Toronto.

Looking ahead, Cosens said mortgage rates are expected to remain low, the turmoil in the American housing market won't have a depressing effect here, and while the rate of growth will slow, sales and prices will continue to rise.

DC83 Jan 11, 2008 1:51 PM


The Pigott penthouse isn't the most expensive unit ever to be sold in this city. Two other penthouses in a Mountain Brow building now under construction sold for a cool $1 million each.
I'm assuming it's the Maddison they're referring to? That's pretty kewl... I wonder how many units they've sold in total so far??

SteelTown Jan 11, 2008 1:59 PM

And somehow BCTed placed a bet with me that the Madison will be a failure.

DC83 Jan 11, 2008 2:08 PM


Originally Posted by SteelTown (Post 3274921)
And somehow BCTed placed a bet with me that the Madison will be a failure.

Maybe if they built it somewhere that didn't have that view... but the view alone is worth $1million!
Plus the size of the units... 2 per floor... unheard of in this city!!

DC83 Jan 11, 2008 2:47 PM

Here's the unit in the Pigott:

SteelTown Jan 11, 2008 2:48 PM

You can see the penthouse on the Spec too, the video.

BrianE Jan 11, 2008 2:58 PM

Yeah, I would live there, but apparently my $550 000 in Canadian Tire money isn't "legal tender".

Pffftt. Capitalist pigs.

DC83 Jan 11, 2008 3:31 PM


Originally Posted by BrianE (Post 3275036)
Yeah, I would live there, but apparently my $550 000 in Canadian Tire money isn't "legal tender".

Pffftt. Capitalist pigs.

I wonder if you can buy a Unit at the Canadian Tire Condo at Church/Yonge with Cdn Tire Money?? If so, you're set man! hahaha

BCTed Jan 12, 2008 8:23 PM


Originally Posted by SteelTown (Post 3274921)
And somehow BCTed placed a bet with me that the Madison will be a failure.

Two out of twenty to date certainly doesn't equal success, Mr. SteelTown!

raisethehammer Jan 12, 2008 11:03 PM

are those the only 2 units that sold?? wow. I would have expected the million dollar penthouses to go last, not first! pretty impressive.
How much are the rest of the units??

SteelTown Jan 12, 2008 11:05 PM

The entire article was only talking about penthouses in Hamilton not the whole building. Penthouses in Hamilton sell quick.

BCTed Jan 13, 2008 2:13 AM


Originally Posted by SteelTown (Post 3278252)
The entire article was only talking about penthouses in Hamilton not the whole building. Penthouses in Hamilton sell quick.

I made the assumption that those are the only two units that have sold in the entire building, and it may have been an incorrect assumption.

I think that all units in the building are selling within a fairly narrow price range. I believe it is in the 800K to 1 MM range, or something similar.

raisethehammer Aug 11, 2008 2:08 PM

Housing Market
I figured we could use a thread to keep an eye on the housing market in the city and watch for hopeful signs of an increasing condo/apartment market.

Housing starts jump 70% in July
Rick Zamperin

Total starts in the Hamilton Census Metropolitan Area were up 70 per cent in July compared to July 2007.

Canada Mortgage and Housing says townhouse and apartment starts in Hamilton and Burlington drove the increase in total starts.

Total starts in Hamilton rose 87 per cent.

Single-detached home starts are up by 4 per cent from last year.

Starts of semi-detached homes, townhouses and apartments increased 55 per cent over last year.

FairHamilton Aug 11, 2008 2:56 PM

Let's also look at the speed & prices of resale homes in lower Hamilton (if possible). I hate when they use terms like 'Hamilton Census Metropolitan Area' because it's a large area and provides little in the way of local trending.

I've noticed many houses in my local area coming on the market and getting sold relatively quickly. Some are going in less than a week like the nice home with great gardens south of Dunsmere on Garfield. The one across from us is Pending Sale at $5K more then we paid for ours 4 months ago. Though I don't know the condition inside, I expect like ours it will need $30K worth of work (i.e. I can see from my front porch their windows need updating and the chimmney needs straightening and pointing, there's approx. $10K out of the gate).

DC83 Aug 11, 2008 2:56 PM

good news re: Condos vs Single-Detacched Homes.
I'm going to say Burlington is the major contributor to the condo percentages.

flar Aug 11, 2008 3:02 PM

Burlington is probably responsible for most of the condo sales, but don't count out Dundas and to a lesser extent Ancaster, where there are plenty of condos, both built and under construction. Many of the "condos" being sold now in Burlington, Dundas and Ancaster are in townhouse style developments rather than towers.

SteelTown Aug 11, 2008 3:08 PM

Most of Hamilton's condos are townhouses.

DC83 Aug 11, 2008 4:12 PM


Originally Posted by SteelTown (Post 3727583)
Most of Hamilton's condos are townhouses.

(lower) Stoney Creek has tons of Tonwhome Condos. It's basically geared towards the super-old population of SC and those who want to own a home but not have to worry about the maintenance.

However, I'd still rather save $400 /mth and cut my own 5'X5' lawn (if there's even one)!

adam Aug 11, 2008 4:27 PM

I'll gladly cut your lawn and shovel your snow for $400/month!

BrianE Aug 11, 2008 4:46 PM

St. Clair and Blakely are still selling well. Especially the smaller houses under $200g A house on Cumberland around the corner sold in 3 weeks, two others on my street sold earlier in the sping in just over a month. There's a sweet house on Blake St on for $419g I think this property is a good barometer for the strength of the market. Keep an eye on this one.

The bad times are starting to hit the upper end of the market first however. I drive by 3 houses in Ancaster everyday, 2 on Rousseux and one on Golf Links Rd. They have all been on the market since February - March. One of them is a flip job and could not have been done at a worse time. They don't seem to want to reduce their price, maybe they can't, otherwise they will take a loss on the house.

Oh! BTW, has a new site every property is now shown on a map. Very useful tool, fast and well done.

DC83 Aug 11, 2008 4:59 PM

I think you chose the right hood to move into, Brian. St Clair/Blakely is defintately hot'ish right now with the best yet to come (just wait for LRT).

Just a tip: there are ghetto ghetto ghetto condos for sale @ Main/Wentworth. $50,000 each. Mostly reno'd with some that have Washer/Drier stand-ups.

The bldg is pretty ghetto right now, but from what I hear (from one of the unit owners) is that they have been agressively evicting the old tenants and trying to replace with owners and/or decent tenants. Kind of like what most of the mid-rise mid-century apt bldgs along Main are doing (the ones across from Gage Park come to mind too).

So if anyone's willing to sit on a property for a cpl years, or if you're patient enough, buy now. If I were a lil older with an established career I would totally snag up a unit there. By 2015 it may be worth $250,000!

EDIT: My bad! They're actually $25,000!!

FairHamilton Aug 11, 2008 5:00 PM

South of Main (i.e. Blake) is where the prices really jump up, $419K is a lot of money for the neighbourhood. I'll have to take a walk along Blake and see what that buys you ;-).

There are still big houses between King & Main to the east of Sherman (Garfield, Fairholt, Barnesdale, Carrick, etc....) where you can get a large home in the $170's. For my money I think the largest appreciations (% wise) will happen in that area, as multi-unit homes are upgraded and converted back into single family homes the area will improve rapidly.

I like the new mapping feature on

Berklon Aug 11, 2008 5:15 PM

Detached homes are sitting on the market longer now. I've been tracking homes in the east end for a while and they're just sitting there. A few price reductions and still nothing. Not surprising since they're overpriced at 350-380k. 360k for an average bungalow? Come on.

raisethehammer Aug 11, 2008 5:19 PM

I know someone who just bought a nice home in the Cannon/Sherman area. They offered a few thousand more than asking price, the day before the listing went public.
Two other bidders also put in bids the same day but were only 1-2,000 over asking. Still, 3 offers over asking on a 3-bedroom home near Sherman/Cannon is pretty impressive. I think asking price was 160,000.
There's a beauty that just came up near me on Devenport. 5 bed, 2 baths. Recently reno'd on a 145 foot lot! Asking 220,000.

raisethehammer Aug 11, 2008 5:20 PM


Originally Posted by DC83 (Post 3727851)
I think you chose the right hood to move into, Brian. St Clair/Blakely is defintately hot'ish right now with the best yet to come (just wait for LRT).

Just a tip: there are ghetto ghetto ghetto condos for sale @ Main/Wentworth. $50,000 each. Mostly reno'd with some that have Washer/Drier stand-ups.

The bldg is pretty ghetto right now, but from what I hear (from one of the unit owners) is that they have been agressively evicting the old tenants and trying to replace with owners and/or decent tenants. Kind of like what most of the mid-rise mid-century apt bldgs along Main are doing (the ones across from Gage Park come to mind too).

So if anyone's willing to sit on a property for a cpl years, or if you're patient enough, buy now. If I were a lil older with an established career I would totally snag up a unit there. By 2015 it may be worth $250,000!

EDIT: My bad! They're actually $25,000!!

holy crap... $25,000!!! And WHEN we get LRT, there will certainly be a stop right at that corner.
Wow. I wish I could snag one.

DC83 Aug 11, 2008 5:40 PM

^^ In Detoit, you can get a detached home in the inner-City for $10,000-$15,000. There may be no windows or houses around you, but it's still damn cheap!

I think I'd take my chances on the Hamilton Real Estate Market tho ;)

fastcarsfreedom Aug 11, 2008 8:08 PM

DC83--there are a few houses around Detroit in that price range that are actually habitable, but they are for the most part in areas of "prairie" land, where most of the neighboring houses are long gone, where city services such as trash collection and street lighting are spotty--and where you would have to tolerate frequent property crime. On the flipside of that--a large hotel being restored downtown (Westin Book-Cadillac) sold out of it's 500,000-1,000,000 condos in the inner-city market in Detroit is bizarre. I'm pleased to hear the Hamilton market is relatively healthy--not sure how much news from our little burg here in SW Ontario makes the provincial or national news--but we have an absolutely moribund housing market--probably 2 to 3 years inventory of resale homes on the market and all new home development basically at a standstill. It's essentially the same as the U.S. market--just without the added problem of foreclosures.

raisethehammer Aug 12, 2008 1:07 AM

nah, actually I'd never heard of your town until I drove to Detroit airport this summer. I passed by just before Windsor.
Speaking of which, what a horrible border crossing...the 401 aprubtly ends and drops you onto this fast food haven like Upper James before hitting the Ambassador Bridge. Crazy.
The Detroit side has huge construction going on right now in the shadow of a 10-15 storey 'Lister Block'. Pretty brutal entrance to the D.
I think I read somewhere that it was the old central terminal sitting there empty in the sky.
I wonder why. Buffalo's is empty too.

fastcarsfreedom Aug 12, 2008 1:37 AM

An extension of the 401 is being built, to a new border crossing about 1 1/2 miles downriver of the Ambassador Bridge. The current situation of the 401 emptying onto Highway 3/Huron Church Road will be eliminated. Don't blame us--while everyone outside of Toronto has been hard-done by over the years--Windsor has been forgotten/written-off for decades--I guess the thinking when the 401 was completed in the late 1960s was "why bother"...there are residential areas all around that stretch of fast-food joints that are treated to 24 hours worth of truck traffic a few blocks from home.

The 10-15 story "Lister Block" you speak of is closer to 20 floors and is indeed the former Michigan Central Station. When Amtrak relocated it's rail service in the late 1980s it was left to go to seed--tragically, as it was an architecturally stunning beaux-arts station that was once among the busiest of it's kind. It's current situation is complicated--opportunities to revive it have come-and-gone, mostly passing by due to it's ownership by contraversial magnate Matty Maroun--who also owns the Ambassador Bridge...and who has refused to sell it or the land surrounding it. It's failure to maintain status as a transportation hub was in no small part related to the decline of rail travel, but was made worse by it's awkward geographic location, separate from the central business district of the city, in much the same way Buffalo's is.

The reconstruction of the U.S. side of the Ambassador Bridge is, for the record, the largest project ever undertaken by the Michigan Department of Transport.

As a point of clarification, my comments on the local housing market were meant to portray the situation across the Greater Windsor area, not exclusively Tecumseh.

raisethehammer Aug 12, 2008 2:33 AM

interesting stuff. yea the decline of rail seems to be the reason for both Buffalo and Detroit's terminals falling into decline. Both are removed from downtown, but both are beautiful buildings....especially Buffalo's, but that building in Detroit caught my eye from the Ambassador and made a big enough impression on me to remember it vividly despite it only being the first time I'd ever laid eyes on it. Great building. Yea, I was guessing on the floor height...kind of hard to count from the highway. lol.
STUNNING views of downtown Detroit from the bridge though. Wow. I need to visit.
Is Windsor's housing market tanking because of overflow from Detroit??

matt602 Aug 12, 2008 3:45 AM

MCS is awesome. The view was quite nice. (try to ignore the phallic art - detroit kids are bored I guess)

fastcarsfreedom Aug 12, 2008 4:37 AM

matt602--you caught a bit of history in your photo--old Tiger Stadium, which is now about 50% demolished. There is a steady vigil of cars pulling off on the I-75 Service Drive to witness the demolition--grown men choking up at the sight, remembering years gone by. A flag is flying on Detroit's famous outfield flagpole--and it does appear now that Federal appropriations will preserve the lower deck from dugout to dugout--as well as the field itself.

I love Detroit--and I find MCS the saddest building in the city--I never get used to seeing it in it's current state--even though I didn't live in the area when it was still active. It remained mostly intact well into the 1990s until Maroun's company finally gave up on having a security presence on site--so the decay/stripping has worsened. Nonetheless, buildings like that weren't built of paper--and the bones are still as solid as hell...all it would take to bring the building back to life would be money--easier said then done. As a matter of note--the tower housed offices primarily of the old New York Central Railway--which eventually disappeared into Conrail. The highest floors were never fully completed/occupied--the leasing market back then was killed by the Great Depression--and the city itself grew outward--but not in the direction of the terminal as it's builders had assumed.

As for our housing market in Windsor--it is really multiple factors. It's important to note that Michigan/Ohio/Ontario--and to an extent Wisconsin/Illinois and Indiana operate as basically a single economic unit as far as manufacturing goes--and while Hamilton and the GTA have a more diversified economy--places like Windsor are more heavily dependent on manufacturing. There have been job losses locally at Ford, GM, Chrysler and a multitude of suppliers--particularly in the tool/die/mould-making sector. Cross-border tourism has been diminished by fears of long border waits (which are rare) and the disappearance of the favorable exchange rate. Important to note that most of the job losses at Chrysler and Ford have been offset by buyouts of workers near retirement age--that has prompted many empty-nesters to list single-family homes for sale with an eye at downsizing. Others, fortunate enough to work in areas that are insulated from the ups and downs of the economy--have listed out of fear. It's really created a glut of properties on the market at a time when no one is really in the mood to buy. I'm perfectly happy in my place and I work in a field insulated from economic malaise--but it would be a great time to buy--the problem being I'd have a bitch of a time selling my place now.

Interesting to note there has been some highrise condo activity more recently--including a couple of prominent riverfront highrises that have slowly but surely sold out--and sold well enough initially to get built. There really isn't a lot of activity anywhere right now though--and a number of new housing developments that were in process are on hold--out in our end of the region there are a lot of those perfect subdivisions with sidewalks, streetlights, curbs, signs--and no houses. Alas, the lack of a foreclosure crisis makes things more managable--and will make recovery easier.

raisethehammer Aug 12, 2008 11:59 AM

awesome building.
Maybe we can send LIUNA down there to help you out. Lol.
Yea, I can't believe the stadium is coming down. Man, that's something else.
I hope Detroit comes back someday....a long road though.

SteelTown Aug 12, 2008 12:59 PM

Housing construction cools off
But locally, new townhouses and apartments power small boom

August 12, 2008
Eric Shackleton
The Canadian Press

Canada's housing market lost steam in July as the fevered pace of new home and condo construction cooled, especially in Ontario.

That follows a June where prices rose at their slowest pace in more than six years.

Canada's national economy "is flat on its back" after two straight monthly declines in employment, Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said yesterday. As a result, he said, people are "anxious and worried about the economic outlook," (and) "are not inclined to make big-ticket purchases like homes."

He also said the housing slowdown comes as a kind of payback after "unsustainably strong" building activity in past years and prices being "overly high for too long."

Helene Begin, senior economist with Desjardins Securities, said, "it is possible that poor weather conditions, particularly in central and eastern Canada, magnified the decline in construction."

Both regions have seen record amounts of rain and severe storms over the past couple of months.

Locally, apartment and condominium developments are driving a small housing boom in Hamilton.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation reported yesterday that total housing starts in the Grimsby-Hamilton-Burlington area were up 70 per cent in July over the same month last year. Townhouse and apartment starts drove the entire gain, rising 175 per cent while starts of single detached homes were down 4 per cent.

Seven months into the year, CMHC said total starts for 2008 are up 25 per cent with semi-detached, townhouses and apartments leading the way with an increase of 55 per cent, while single-detached starts are up only 4 per cent.

"While single-detached starts in Hamilton remain steady, townhouse and apartment starts have taken off this year," said Sarah Fong, CMHC's market analyst for Hamilton. "Preference for less expensive housing and condominium-style living by some households is the driving force behind the increase in these starts.''

Hamilton's rising market generally matches the rest of Ontario where starts are up 17 per cent from the same time last year. Compared with June, however, they were down 39 per cent in July with apartment and single-detached starts leading the slide.

The Canadian economy has been hurt by the slowdown in the United States, brought on by the worldwide credit crunch, which has savaged Canada's export-sensitive forestry and automotive industries, leading to thousands of layoff announcements.

Softening commodity prices, especially for oil, are also creating uncertainty in the marketplace.

The national economy lost 55,000 jobs in July, with Ontario and Quebec, the country's two most populous provinces and the centre of the manufacturing sector, the hardest hit. Statistics Canada said Friday the national unemployment rate improved slightly to 6.1 per cent in July, from 6.2 per cent in June, but only because many people -- especially the young -- left the workforce.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported yesterday that July's annual rate of housing starts was 186,500 units, down from 215,900 units in June.

"It was the second consecutive monthly decline, and the most significant since December last year," TD economist Pascal Gauthier said in a note to clients.

He said "the overall level of new residential construction activity recorded in July fell significantly short of expectations for a total of 210,000 starts."

While Alberta and British Columbia sidestepped the national trend in construction activity, up 23 per cent and 5 per cent respectively, "every other province recorded significant reductions in housing starts," Gauthier said.

Saskatchewan fell the most with a 56 per cent decline, "but it was Ontario's 28 per cent pullback in starts that weighed the most on national figures," he said.

The volatile multiple unit segment, including housing such as condos, "took the largest hit, mostly in Ontario as well," Gauthier said.

Urban single-unit starts posted a 7 per cent decline in July, continuing their gradual downward trend, he said.

Meanwhile, Statistics Canada said in June, Western Canada's softening market slowed housing prices to their slowest pace in more than six years.

adam Aug 12, 2008 1:56 PM

Its insane how oil prices can have such a broad affect on everything. the oil barons have really got us by the... everything!

fastcarsfreedom Aug 13, 2008 5:30 AM

LIUNA has nothing on Matty Maroun, trust me RTH--a brief intro on the inner-workings of his conglomerate and you'd be thankful to have LIUNA in town.

As for a "comeback" in Detroit--well...Detroit is complicated, simply put. Despite the economic malaise, the area still has an enviable roster of Fortune 500 companies, incredible wealth, cultural and arts institutions rivalling those of larger cities and great geographic advantages. The proper City of Detroit has enormous challenges--not only 50 years of migration to the suburbs (which have depopulated the City by over half from it's peak in the early 1950s), but a city government ravaged by deep corruption, a failing public school system and entrenched mistrust between city and suburbs. It is difficult to attract/retain viable/prosperous citizens when Oakland County lies immediately north with enviable school systems, per capita incomes in the top tier in the U.S. and a government that has operated as a job/wealth creation machine for the past 40 fact Oakland County is on track to add jobs this year--which is jaw-dropping considering the painful upheavel in the regional economy.

So that's my primer. Downtown Detroit is well on it's way to coming back to life--I mean, there has been an absolute sea-change in the time I've lived in this area--it is the 'belt' of neighborhoods in the proper City of Detroit that separate downtown from the suburbs that are the deep, difficult crisis. It will take a radical shift in development/planning philosophy to really attack the issues of crime, vacancy and disenfranchisement.

Anyway...that's off topic, isn't it? Just some insight. And if you're feeling down on the HSR sometimes--remember this--the city/suburb divide in Metro Detroit is so broad that TWO seperate transit systems exist--DDOT for the city and SMART for the suburbs--two completely autonomous transit systems.

flar Sep 9, 2008 1:34 PM

Plunging property sales prompt fears

MP warns slide could signal big problems
September 09, 2008
Meredith Macleod
The Hamilton Spectator
(Sep 9, 2008)

Local real estate sales plummeted close to 20 per cent last month, but it does not signal a slip toward a housing crisis like the one in the United States, says the area realtors association.

But Halton MP Garth Turner warns real troubles are looming.

A total of 992 properties, including homes, condos, commercial sites, business properties and farms, were sold in August in the Hamilton-Burlington area.

That was a 19.6 per cent fall over sales in August 2007.

So far in 2008, sales are down 8.7 per cent over last year, while new listings are up 5.3 per cent. That certainly points to a softening market, says Ann Cosens, president of the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington.

But that was expected after a record year of sales in 2007, she says.

"This year is our second-best year, so we are still very strong."

The association projects sales will be down 6 or 7 per cent for 2008.

The average price of freehold homes grew 5.4 per cent from August 2007 to $303,818 last month. Condo prices fell less than 1 per cent to $207,387.

But the story was different in various parts of Hamilton and Burlington.

Sale prices were down on the Mountain and in Ancaster, Waterdown and Grimsby, and up in the lower city, Burlington, Dundas, Flamborough, Stoney Creek and Glanbrook.

"Business is still OK out there," says Hamilton broker Ken Gies. "This is more of a normal market."

In his brokerage, commissions have fallen about 7 per cent this year. But more telling, he says, is that Internet hits on listings have fallen about 30 per cent.

Homes are taking longer to sell, but those that are priced right do move, Gies says.

"Hamilton is a very affordable place. We're still selling homes for the price of rent. If you're down the road in Oakville, that won't happen."

But among 40 listings on the Mountain that Gies pulled to show a client yesterday were four powers of sale.

"That's very unusual. Maybe this is the beginning of something."

Broker Ray Edwards says that after 63 years in the business, he's never seen a hotter market than that of the last couple of years.

"People were almost buying before houses were listed and there were three or four offers on one house. Things have slowed a bit but there is no doom or gloom out there."

Hamilton remains one of the three or four tightest resale markets in the province, alongside London, Thunder Bay and Kitchener, says Sarah Fong, senior market analyst with the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

But according to MP Turner, a former financial expert, consultant and author of The Greater Fool: The Troubled Future of Real Estate, years of skyrocketing home prices are catching up with Canadian homeowners.

Incomes have not nearly kept pace and the advent of 40-year mortgages (terminated as of Oct. 15) and zero down payments mean that many buyers are drastically house-poor, he says.

"Taking on more debt to buy more house, that doesn't go on forever."

Turner says sales and prices are collapsing and listings are exploding in many of Canada's major urban centres. There is more than a year's supply of homes on the market in most cities, he says.

"Sales in Toronto are down 15 to 20 per cent over last year, and in Vancouver they're down 70 per cent."

According to national Multiple Listing Service figures released by the Canadian Real Estate Association, the average price of a resale home was $302,298, down from $309,885 in July 2007.

Canada's real estate bust is a few years behind that of the United States, says Turner, although he doesn't expect the same kind of spectacular meltdown here that has seen record foreclosures in the U.S. and an unprecedented federal takeover of the country's two biggest mortgage lenders.

Cosens says Canadian mortgage lending practices are much more cautious than those of the U.S.

"I hear people saying that the market (in Canada) is going to crash but there are no indications of that.

"Their problems south of the border won't follow us here."

A small hike in building permit numbers for July surprised Craig Alexander, TD Bank's deputy chief economist, given the softening market.

However, he says, "I don't think (the rebound) changes the story very much ... The Canadian housing market is coming off the boil."

At the same time, though, "it is ... somewhat reassuring that it's not falling off a cliff."

It's not the same story south of the border.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said last week that more than four million American homeowners with a mortgage -- a record 9 per cent -- were either behind on their payments or in foreclosure at the end of June.

By contrast, according to the Canadian Banking Association, the percentage of bank mortgages in arrears (three missed payments) in this country is stable at 0.27 per cent.

flar Sep 9, 2008 1:36 PM

The title of the above article seems a little disconnected from what is discussed in the article, don't you think?

SteelTown Sep 9, 2008 1:50 PM

My parents are searching for a new house and there are plenty of houses on the market. Though I'm noticing there's more brand new homes on the market than resales of existing houses.

I guess it's a buyers market with house prices either staying flat or dropping a bit. Opposite for lower Hamilton though, prices are climbing.

FairHamilton Sep 9, 2008 2:12 PM

For the most part, houses in our neighbourhood are still selling. And there is lots of money being spent on fixing up the homes.

I think the lower city offers value for money and will be largely protected against any downturn in the market. If there is any decrease in prices it will be minor compared to other (newer) areas.

DC83 Sep 9, 2008 2:34 PM

^^ I don't know about upper Stoney Creek.
The houses seem to be selling as fast as ever, especially now that all the new stuff is going up (there used to be literally NOTHING to do up there).

My mom is also selling her house this fall, we'll see how that goes. But I think she's in an area where it's still a sellers market (esp since the new townhouses are smaller, have no yards and are way more expensive).

I'm happy to hear about the lower city. Hopefully the secret pockets of cheap/nice houses are kept secrets so when I'm ready to buy I wont have to pay $600,000 for regular-sized Victorian home (oh Toronto).

SteelTown Sep 9, 2008 2:39 PM

I was talking to one of the lady in the model houses at Summit Park and she said most of the people buying there are from Hamilton. She said Hamiltonians are moving to Summit Park well GTAers tend to buy the house they moved out.

The townhouses are now $10,000 more than they were when they were first building at Summit Park. I found how much they were selling when the townhouses were first going up, $10,000 difference. Probably a bigger difference for the houses.

MsMe Sep 9, 2008 2:58 PM

Current Bank Interest Rates

BrianE Sep 9, 2008 3:46 PM

Garth Turner is one of the more vocal voices of the doom and gloom housing market scenario. His website is a good read. His housing predictions are also pretty bang on (off a few months, time wise) if you read his blog posts from a year ago.

Of course he focuses mostly on Halton so his analysis of the market is really an analysis of the suburban sprawl housing market. Which I think is a little different than the Hamilton resale market.

Burlington, Oakville, Milton are all horribly over priced in my opinion, Hamilton and to a lesser extent the burbs of Hamilton still have good value... for now.

realcity Sep 9, 2008 4:07 PM

don't trust what Real Estate Professionals ever say about the state of the real estate market. You will never hear them saying that it is going down, if ever, they give minor reasons and use tactical words to make the downturn seem less than it is. They are morons. Sell your house privately and buy a house privately. Lawyers do all the work anyway. Real Estate Agent is the new Unemployment Insurance.

FairHamilton Sep 9, 2008 4:52 PM

I also think the lower city prices will be protected by the flight of Toronto/GTAer's looking for mature neighbourhoods that are extremely expensive in TO.

The little section of our street where we live is a good case in point, 18 houses in the section, and 4 homes sold so far in 2008.

3 to people from Toronto (including us), and 1 to a couple from Guelph.

flar Sep 9, 2008 4:56 PM

It'll have to be out of towners. Some friends of ours from Dundas are looking at houses, but like Steeltown's parents, they keep looking at new developments on the edge of the city. Mentioning lower Hamilton stops the conversation dead. I just can't see spending $300K on a suburban tract house when you could get something so much better for so much cheaper. "But it's in Hamilton!"

omro Sep 23, 2008 9:13 AM

Just curious. As I plan to buy a place there in '09. What's the housing market in Hamilton likely to do in '09?

In London UK, my property has lost a lovely £30k, almost $60k in the last 6 months thanks to the credit crunch, so I'm a bit upset about that! :( It means that when I sell next year, I won't be able to buy as nice a place as I was hoping to buy in Hamilton (assuming prices here haven't dropped further by then!). I've gone from having almost $200k to spend on a place to almost $140k :hell:

I have read a few reports that suggest that, thanks to economic conditions, Ontario's housing market will be flat in '09. Will this be true in Hamilton? Or do you think prices will continue to rise in '09?

Are there any sites/sources that people know of which have Hamilton House Price predictions for '09 and beyond? Are there any maps/charts which show the areas which have the most expensive properties in the city and the highest/lowest predicted price rises?

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