Niagara – growing new home development among natural splendour

By Wayne Karl
March 29, 2024

Niagara Region often inspires thoughts of mostly the Falls themselves, those natural wonders to which a visit never grows old.

But beyond the awe-inspiring beauty and power of the Falls and the Niagara River, Niagara Region offers a lot more that’s worthy of just a weekend getaway.

Encompassing towns such as Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara-on-the- Lake, St. Catharines, Thorold and Welland, the Niagara Region is blessed with a great natural location.

It occupies most of the Niagara Peninsula, bounded by the U.S. to the south and on the north by Lake Ontario, and of course the Niagara Escarpment – all of which offers strong potential for business and lifestyle choices.

These natural landscapes and climate make the Niagara Region perfect for agri-businesses such as winemaking – a key economic sector. The Niagara Wine Route, for example, connects dozens of wineries and is a growing tourism draw, complementing cultural events such as the Shaw Festival.

Indeed, a visit to the area can involve a stop at the Falls, winery tours, the quaint town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Botanical Gardens, with its Floral Clock and Butterfly Conservatory, several championship golf courses and a growing casino industry in downtown Niagara Falls.

But this is all for play. To live and work in the region is another matter.

Economic growth

Again, a blessing of location, Niagara is within 800 km of two provinces, nine states and 130 million people on both sides of the border. This means opportunities for business. The trade that flows across Niagara’s borders totals more than $100 billion annually, and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across Canada and the U.S. The infrastructure network to support this trade activity comprises five international bridges, multiple railways and the Welland Canal, linking Lake Erie into the St. Lawrence Seaway system.

All of this is conducive to growth potential for the region’s manufacturing and transportation and logistics sectors, to complement the historical strength in agriculture and tourism.

Niagara’s economy has shown steady growth in a number of areas, particularly in job creation and new investment, but still lags slightly behind Ontario averages. The Niagara economic development department confirms the area still has challenges in higher unemployment, lower participation rate and lower household income per capita.

New home development

As the economy grows and affords people more opportunity to live and work in Niagara – or close by – new-home development is following.

Much of the housing growth is in the lowrise category, as buyers from the GTA find the lot sizes and price points far more appealing and affordable.

But that, too, is changing, as some consumers prefer the condo lifestyle, even in a nature-rich area such as Niagara. Developers are responding in kind, with several new condo projects, many of them midrise or boutique condominiums.

Silvergate Homes, for example, is launching a new condominium, Merritton Mills on Hastings, near Glendale, in St. Catharines’ popular Merritton area.

With its long-standing roots in the neighbourhood, Merritton is rapidly becoming a highly desirable place to live. Its proximity to South St. Catharines and its many amenities makes it ideal for families, singles and retirees. It is also conveniently located close to the Pen Centre, downtown core, hiking and biking trails, Brock University and Niagara College.

In the first phase of Merritton Mills, Silvergate will build a 71-suite midrise condominium, comprising one- and two-bedroom suites ranging from 800 to 1,200 sq. ft.

And Lucchetta Homes, another well-established builder in the area, is launching the final phase at its Hunters Pointe development – WaterCrest. Hunters Pointe is located at the confluence of the Welland Canal and the Welland River (which flows under the canal through an aqueduct).

Incorporating some of the most stunning views in the community, and nestled along a picturesque and serene promontory, WaterCrest is sure to appeal to new-home buyers looking for an exclusive place to call home.
Part of the appeal for homebuyers in Niagara – besides lifestyle and proximity to some of Ontario’s great natural attractions – is affordability relative to other parts of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Time may be of the essence, though, as the Niagara housing market is heading out of a seasonal winter slowdown and towards an expected springtime rush. The aggregate home price increased a modest 1.2 per cent year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2023, to $627,000.

Broken out by housing type, the median price of a single-family detached home increased 1.1 per cent year-over-year to $654,300 in Q4 2023, while condominium prices remained relatively flat, increasing 0.3 per cent to $392,000.

“With prices falling slightly and inventory growing, Niagara-St. Catharines has recently transitioned towards a buyers’ market,” says Brad Johnstone, broker of record, Royal LePage NRC Realty. “Activity has stayed in line with historical seasonal patterns, with sales at the end of 2023 slowing as buyers and sellers took a pause for the holiday season. However, we know that demand is building on the sidelines, as anxious purchasers wait for more clarity about interest rates.

“Homebuyers have their sights set on the first rate cut, and are attempting to time the market so they can take advantage of discounted borrowing costs while avoiding the upswing in prices that will inevitably come once sales activity heats up.”

Johnstone notes that first-time buyers are currently the most active, looking to secure lower housing prices before the rush of the spring market. Similarly, residential builders have been buying up land across the Niagara region in recent months in anticipation of stronger demand in the pre-construction sector once consumer confidence and market conditions improve.

“I expect that we will see a more normal spring market in 2024 compared to the last three years,” says Johnstone. “However, if interest rates drop mid-spring, it could fuel competition in the market as more buyers jump in. In that case, I feel that we could once again see double-digit price growth and multiple-offer scenarios as pressure that’s been growing on the sidelines gets released.”


Location, location, location

A regional municipality in Southern Ontario comprising 12 municipalities such as Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara-on-the-Lake, St. Catharines, Thorold and Welland; 130 kms from Toronto; 86 kms from Hamilton.

Select housing developments

Arbour Vale
By Pinewood Home Builders

By Losani Homes

Bromley Gardens
By Dunsire Developments

Century Condos
By DeSantis Homes

By Pinewood Home Builders

Grimsby Waterfront
By Losani Homes

Harbourtown Village
By Silvergate Homes

By Silvergate Homes

Lusso Urban Towns
By Lucchetta Homes

Meadow Heights
By Dunsire Developments

Merritton Mills
By Silvergate Homes

On the Ridge
By DeSantis Homes

One Fonthill Condominiums
By Mountainview Homes

Park Lane Place
By Park Lane Home Builders

Riverside at Hunters Pointe
By Lucchetta Homes

Saffron Estates
By Lucchetta Homes

Settlers Landing
By Blythwood Homes

Shelter Cove
By Shelter Cove

By Pinewood Home Builders

By Losani Homes

The Oaks at Six Mile Creek
By Blythwood Homes

Village Creek
By Park Lane Home Builders

Village on the Twelve
By Silvergate Homes

Vista Ridge
By Losani Homes

WaterCrest at Hunters Pointe
By Lucchetta Homes

Key landmarks

• Botanical Gardens
• Casino Niagara
• Clifton Hill
• Fallsview Casino
• Legends on the Niagara Golf Course
• Lundy’s Lane
• Niagara Falls
• Niagara Wine Route
• Skylon Tower
• Welland Canal
• Whirlpool Golf Course

About Wayne Karl

Wayne Karl is an award-winning writer and editor with experience in real estate and business. Wayne explores the basics – such as economic fundamentals – you need to examine when buying property.

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