Once a well-kept secret, Thornbury has become one of the hottest markets around for new and resale home buyers. And it's no wonder, because it is an amazing place to live. (Full disclosure: I purchased a home in Thornbury 16 years ago and plan to stay for many years to come.) With its high-end shops, picturesque harbour, great dining choices, and activities like golf, biking, skiing, hiking and paddling right on its doorstep, Thornbury has it all.
"Many places have one or two of these attributes, but Thornbury - through a combination of geography and circumstance - has developed a wonderful sense of community in a setting that embodies everything great about the area's geography and the many activities it enables," says Steve Simon, a realtor with Royal LePage Locations North. However, the downside of Thornbury's many attractions is that it is currently experiencing a true seller's market - lots of interested buyers vying for a limited inventory of homes for sale - so those interested in buying a home or condo in Thornbury face stiff competition.
s what you need to know to navigate the hot Thornbury market:
1. It's about the Boomers
Like most of our area's real estate market, the Thornbury market is being driven by retiring or soon to retire Baby Boomers. "The birth rate peaked in 1960, so expect things to boom from the Boomers for at least 10 years," notes Simon, adding there has been a recent flurry of commercial deals on Bruce Street and nearby to provide services for the growing population. "I think we can expect an influx of professionals and specifically healthcare-related businesses and their owners," predicts Simon.
2. It's also about young families
While Boomers are driving the bulk of the real estate sales, Thornbury is anything but a sleepy retirement community. Notes Simon: "Thornbury is a wonderful place to raise a family, with its excellent school, sports-related activities such as hockey, baseball and soccer, and small-town atmosphere providing a safe environment to allow children to flourish."
Michael Maish of Clairwood Real Estate concurs. "Thornbury appeals to a range of demographics, so competition is strong," he says. "It's still a great location for retirees, but buyers also recognize it as an ideal spot for year-round recreation and as a permanent location for families. The most notable increase I've noticed is the number of young families moving into town. Good schools, daycares, parks, restaurants, a wide range of activities, new businesses and a shiny new supermarket all make Thornbury a fantastic place to raise a family."
3. Everything is in demand
Whether itâ€™s new or resale, houses or condos, estate properties or custom homes, demand is high across all sectors and in all price points.
On the resale side, Simon says recent sales have established new price points, with several sales in the $800,000 to $1.3 million range and more modestly priced homes selling very quickly. "Renovated century homes on Bruce Street have been especially hot," he adds. "The desire to walk into town has driven this real estate market across all price points."
Resale homes in Lora Bay are also selling quickly across a wide range of prices, while others are choosing to build their dream homes in Lora Bay. "Buyers are drawn to the community feel, fabulous views, and amenities including an 18-hole golf course, recreation centre, beaches and clubhouse," says Simon.
New home developments in Thornbury are currently few and far between, but if a new home is what you want, Lora Bay and Trailwoods have a variety of build options, some with water views, some with recreational facilities, access to trails and other amenities. Trailwoods' large building lots are close enough to walk to town. According to Simon, 33 lots on High Bluff Lane were released in April and over half were sold by mid-May. If you're not ready yet, don't despair: Trailwoods will launch a third phase in 2017.
After years of stagnation, the Thornbury condo market is also heating up. "The properties at Applejack and Rankin's Landing have been experiencing low inventory and rising prices over the past year," says Simon. "The Mill Pond development is nearing completion with very few units remaining. At the top end of the condo market, 11 Bay Street, with elevators in every unit, is preparing to build out its final phase. New condo development is needed to meet burgeoning demand."
4. New is more expensive than resale
Definitely don't rule out new homes from your search. If the resale market isn't offering the right options, new builds are well worth a look. "Clients of mine bought at Lora Bay last year, attracted by the proximity to the water and the chance to build a house with a main floor master suite," says Maish. "They moved in this April and are delighted with their purchase."
The ability to customize is attractive. And who wouldn't want to choose their own fixtures? However, make sure you're aware of the full cost before committing to a new home or custom build. "Extras such as finished basements, HST and landscaping are usually not included and can add up," warns Maish, adding new construction costs are usually higher than resale.
"I work with a lot of rural buyers who consider buying vacant land to build a custom home. We have excellent builders in the area so this is an attractive option. But my advice is that you have to do this because you'll love the home, not because it will make you money. Construction costs of the actual house may not necessarily be high, but you have to add on the extras: development charges, architects and engineers, driveway, landscaping, well, septic. These add hundreds of thousands onto a build, and you'll usually put more money into the property than you can sell it for."