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This or That | First-time buyers, freehold town or a fixer-upper detached

Freehold townhouses have become a popular option in Guelph in the last few years, especially among first-time homebuyers. The price and the fact that most are in move-in ready condition appear to be what is attracting many first-time homebuyers.

Since 2010, the amount of freehold townhouses sold in Guelph has been steadily increasing as well as the average sale price:

  • 69 sold in 2010 (Average sale price $259,267)
  • 83 sold in 2011 (Average sale price $282,087)
  • 103 sold in 2012 (Average sale price $289,811)
  • 114 sold in 2013 (Average sale price $310,303)
  • 117 sold in 2014 (Average sale price $320,505)
  • 129 sold in 2015 (Average sale price $337,178)

The cost of a detached freehold home rises quite a bit every year in Guelph. With new businesses opening up, the low vacancy rates and somewhat close proximity to the GTA, Guelph has become a very popular city for families to move to, including investors and commuters. It is therefore not surprising that as a first-time homebuyer, it has become increasingly difficult to get into the market, especially for couples looking to buy a home that will be spacious enough to grow a family in the nearby future. Freehold townhouses offer first-time buyers an option to own homes that are spacious without the cost of a similar sized detached home. Also, the fact that these homes are newer means they are usually move-in ready and this can be quite attractive for first-time homebuyers with busy lives.

Additionally, part of the increased popularity in freehold townhouses could be in part attributed to the recent surge in new builds for this type of home, especially in the East end of Guelph.

* Of the total 615 freehold townhouses sold since 2010, 253 of those were in the East end of Guelph in the Grange Road neighbourhood. That is 41.14%; quite a significant percentage coming out of just one of the many neighbourhoods in Guelph.

On the other hand, there is also the previously more trendy option of buying a cheap detached fixer-upper.

I’ve noticed these days that there are not quite as many first-time homebuyers looking for these types of homes. As previously mentioned, they are gravitating more towards a move-in ready home, as they are often too busy working to get into the DIY projects. Another reason could be that there aren’t as many available. With low inventory and an increased number of investors in Guelph, you often end up in multiple offers where someone ends up paying way too much, forcing first-time buyers with lower price points out of the way.

This new trend has certainly come as a surprise to me, as I was one of those first-time buyers who absolutely wanted a detached home but could not afford one in decent condition. I ended up settling with a tiny detached fixer-upper. I felt this was a good choice because the mortgage was cheaper than rent and we could slowly renovate while living there and eventually sell and make a good profit. Plus, my husband was handy.

As I had hoped, my husband and I did end up making a profit after fixing it up and selling it a couple of years later. However, I’ve gained a new perspective. It was A LOT of work, it felt like it was never ending and often made it difficult to enjoy nights out and go on vacations since all of our money would go towards renovations. In hindsight, I don’t know if I would do it again had I known just how much it would take. However, it’s hard to regret this initial decision after we were able to purchase a much bigger detached home after just a couple of years, whereas we would probably still be in our first home had it been something like a move-in ready townhouse.  It depends on what you are willing (or not willing) to do as well as your future goals. It’s also important to really have a clear idea of just how much work and money this kind of project home takes.

As a Realtor who works with a lot of first-time homebuyers, I have ample experience in selling both these types of homes and more and I feel confident in helping clients navigate through their options. Either way you go, it’s a win-win situation to invest in a home in Guelph!

If you are thinking of purchasing in the near future, please don’t hesitate to contact me for more advice!

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