Barrie has been a beneficiary of the COVID-19-induced exodus from the Greater Toronto Area and a new freehold housing project perfectly encapsulates why people are moving there.
Eagles’ Rest Estates by Fernbrook Homes and Crystal Homes, is a development in Upper Barrie comprised of 208 detached homes between 2,800-5,200 sq ft, and with 75-110-ft frontages, located near some of the city’s four-season outdoor activities.
According to Louis Nguyen, VP of Sales and Marketing at International Home Marketing Group, a lot of Torontonians are buying at the project, while keeping a condo unit in the city where they spend a couple of days a week working.
“People can enjoy bigger homes with wider frontage and get closer to nature, and it’s still within 40 minutes of the GTA,” he said. “There are lots of golf courses, ski resorts and the lakes around the wider areas, so it’s great for people working from home and people who are looking for a second home. We thought we’d get a lot of middle-aged buyers, but surprisingly we’re getting a lot of young families who are going to use this as their main home and have a condo in downtown Toronto where they work once or twice a week. They know they will be working remotely.”
Eagles’ Rest Estates is primarily an end user-driven project but Nguyen noted that there are investors for this product as well.
That is not surprising, according to Barrie-based Jeremy Brooks of Engel & Völkers, who says COVID-19 has changed his city dramatically. The exodus from densified Toronto to its suburbs, then exurbs and beyond, reached Barrie.
“They want more elbow room and more space that they don’t have in the main urban centres, but they still want to be connected to people. They don’t want to be out on 20 acres in a rural area,” said Brooks. “They want a place that has a sense of community, park space and great outdoor amenities that they can access on a regular basis.” Brooks says that 65% of buying activity in Barrie is coming from people leaving the GTA, and it has driven up the cost of the city’s single-family detached houses.
“We’ve seen the most demand from people moving from a semi-detached home or a condo into a 3,000-4,000 sq ft house in a subdivision here,” said Brooks. “Those houses cost $600,000-700,000 a few years ago but now they’re million-dollar homes because people have realized they can increase their living space. They want more space both inside and outside their home.”