Millennials are looking for a quality of life at work and at home – and the pandemic has been driving them out of Toronto into suburban markets like Barrie. 

“This will be the best year in housing for 50 years,” economist Ben Rabidoux told BDAR members in a Jan. 21 webinar — and it’s the smaller and mid-sized markets, such as the Barrie real estate market, that are driving this growth. 

“The smaller secondary markets are driving the price increase,” he said, adding that Barrie real estate prices rose 23 per cent over the past year.  The vibrant housing market in Canada is no longer depending on Toronto and Vancouver, but on the suburban markets that offer families value for money.

Caption: Economist Ben Rabidoux detailed how suburban markets are driving up house prices in this slide from the BDAR webinar on Jan. 21.

As a result, it’s very unlikely governments will move to dampen activity as it did several years ago when Toronto and Vancouver markets drove up prices. 

“They’re not going to bring in a new stress test,” he said. “The government is going to let this burn hot for a while, which is a perfect set up as we head into the spring.

“Spring 2021 may be the hottest housing market since the late 1980s.”

In addition, the Bank of Canada intends to hold interest rates low, as detailed in its Jan. 20 overnight rate announcement; click here for more details.  

Rates are projected to remain below one per cent, which enables mortgages to be renegotiated or bought at very affordable prices. 

As families work from home, they are saving on the costs of commuting in terms of both time and money. Hours spent on the highway lengthen an already long workday, a sharp contrast to working from home, not to mention the costs of vehicle maintenance, wear and tear and fuel. 

Pros and Cons of Working from Home

That said, conducting Zoom meetings in the dining room while managing the kids and their schooling, then getting reports done when the kids are asleep, is not a sustainable lifestyle. The office offers a separation of home and work, and a child-free environment that can be productive and collaborative. 

“I don’t believe offices are dead,” asserted Rabidoux. 

While employees have been productive through the pandemic, it is more challenging for them to be connected, and a Cushman and Wakefield study, The Future of Workplace, noted that personal connection is an “extremely important component of employee experience”. 

Face-to-face meetings not only boost mental wellbeing for the workers, but for well-being for the team and the sense of connectedness to the company.  People will return to the workplace, with new appreciation and new demands, the study highlights, available here

Another study, by The Harris Poll in the spring of 2020, highlighted the office as a “critical place” for meaningful connections. More information is available here

Some key takeaways about the shift to working from home include: 

The benefits:

  • 62 per cent said they saved money by not commuting
  • 58 per cent said they enjoyed a more relaxed dress code
  • 55 per cent enjoyed not having to commute
  • 52 per cent reported a better work-life balance

The challenges:

  • 35 per cent struggled with separating work and home life
  • 33 per cent struggled with concentrating on work
  • 31 per cent cited uncontrollable noises as frustrating
  • 27 per cent struggled with collaborating virtually
  • 25 per cent cited a lack of private, quiet space

More details available here

The Future of Work Spaces

Companies, therefore, may wish to provide smaller collaborative spaces where staff can get away from home but conveniently, so employees can enjoy not commuting and a better work-life balance while being productive and connected with the company.

A solution would be a small office, a flexible and connected space that’s shared, where people can file their work-related documents and resources, where they can plug in and zoom professionally with others on their team and stay connected to the company in a more intimate office setting. The satellite site would feature resources like a state-of-the-art photocopier/scanner, a server, and a small kitchen, where staff can connect with others based in the same community as they take a coffee break. 

Satellite offices that link people physically and virtually in these smaller markets offer employees the best opportunities, as many are no longer interested in three hours on the highway each day, but who anticipate a return to a professional office setting.

With the only urban growth centre north of the GTA, commercial real estate in Barrie is becoming an increasingly popular choice for investors. The City of Barrie also enjoys a vibrant residential real estate market, so it’s a perfect location that offers value for you as well as your employees.

Squarefoot Commercial Group, a specialized commercial real estate group, helps companies assess how much space is required and how flexible it needs to be: do your staff, for example, each need an office or can an office be shared? Contact us for more information.If you’re looking for a commercial real estate agent in Barrie, we’ve got you covered. Don’t believe us? Read our client testimonials.

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