Economic optimism drives Hamilton buying boom
No. 2 in Ontario for real-estate buys
October 02, 2009
The Hamilton Spectator
A new entrepreneurial spirit that is breathing life into a once-battered economy is the reason Hamilton has become one of the province's top real estate bets.
The Real Estate Investment Network has named Hamilton the second-best place in Ontario to buy a house or invest in commercial property.
"Known formerly as a hard-working steel town, Hamilton has transformed itself into a diverse economy," says the Top Ontario Investment Towns report released today.
"An entrepreneurial spirit has entered the city as it puts the wheels in motion to create a major high-tech industrial park, in conjunction with growth at McMaster University. In fact, Hamilton's leadership has been very innovative in terms of its revitalization plans throughout the city."
Don Campbell, president of REIN and author of Real Estate Investing in Canada, said today's investors must be selective and should target cities with the greatest potential.
"The years of skyrocketing prices are finally over; however, over the long term, the economic fundamentals of these key regions will help their property values dramatically outperform other regions of the province."
Campbell told The Spectator that Hamilton is finding new life after serious shocks to its manufacturing heart.
"Some cities will lose their industry and sit in a corner and cry and never come back."
The city's economic development department is celebrating another win earlier this week.
Hamilton was ranked seventh among Canadian metropolitan areas in attracting new and expanded corporate facilities.
Site Selection Magazine, a North American publication aimed at corporate real estate executives, tallied 13 corporate projects between June 2008 and May 2009.
The rankings are based on projects per capita, investment per capita and job creation.
Neil Everson, the city's director of economic development and real estate, says the recognition these kinds of studies bring "goes a very long way to changing people's perception and image about us ... it gives credibility to our marketing efforts."
The REIN study analyzed 13 economic measures, including average income growth, population growth, job creation, affordability, economic diversification and infrastructure.
Researchers also visited the top cities, talked to local economic development staff and listened to conversations in coffee shops, Campbell says.
It's about the future, not the past and not even the present, he says.
"Every city has to get over its past reputation and these rankings are totally objective.
"We put out the first study 17 years ago and Barrie and Orillia were the best back then. People thought they were just cabins and cottages, and look at them now."
The last survey, in 2007, ranked Hamilton at fifth in Ontario and before that it was eighth.
A mix of good news and bad news is actually a good sign for a revitalizing city, Campbell said on the day after the latest bid to bring an NHL team to Hamilton fell short.
"When everything is positive, you know something is coming around the corner."
Top 10 investment towns
3. Simcoe Shores: Barrie/Orillia
5. Durham Region: Whitby/Pickering/Ajax
Source: Real Estate Investment Network, Top Ontario Investment Towns, 2009-2014
Top Canadian metro areas for corporate facility projects, June 2008-May 2009
Quebec City 16
Wood Buffalo (Fort McMurray), Alta. 8
Source: Site Selection Magazine