Tuesday, February 14, 2017

2017 Real Estate Trends: Sky High Hydro Costs In Ontario

Have you looked at your hydro bill lately?  Did you have sticker shock?  This is a topic that everyone is talking about in Ontario and it doesn’t look like relief will be coming anytime soon.  Naturally, the effects of this rising expense are felt throughout the economy, including the real estate sector.  Today we are going to look at some of the ramifications from a real estate perspective.

Reduced Disposable Income
All things being equal, this increase in utility costs equates to a lower disposable income for workers in the local economy.  This will affect retail sales, which will lower economic growth.  Potential home buyer’s budgets will be more stretched and therefore will lower the amount of money they have available to service mortgage debt, either reducing the value of homes they can afford or completely taking some buyers out of the market.  Therefore, demand will suffer.

More Efficient Homes Becoming Important
The stakes are high in Ontario these days when it comes to energy efficiency.  It is more important and economical to live in an efficient space than ever.  Some of the large, older homes have inherent difficulties in energy efficiency and the costs for utilities in these homes are becoming prohibitive.  Because of this we see a shift to more demand for newer constructed homes that are more energy efficient.  We also see a shift to people building smaller and smartly designed homes to be able to fit in everything they want in less sq ft.  Homeowners with 3,000-4000’+ homes are routinely getting $1000+ utilities bills. With utility rates projected to increase significantly from here, demand for operating these homes could slow as a result.

Renewable Energy Becomes More Economical, Technology Becomes Important
As prices of hydro continue to rise, the economics of the payback on renewable energy get more attractive.  Things like solar energy will look more attractive on a micro basis for consumers.  Technology like smart thermostats and appliances will also be important to conserve energy for the consumer.  Do your research!  As these alternatives become more widely adapted they should also come down in cost.

Increasing Costs to Businesses
As a large input cost to many businesses, hydro is getting to a tipping point in Ontario.  These could affect the future of many businesses in our Province and could lead them to turning to lower cost jurisdictions.  One would also assume the consumer will see prices increase as businesses pass on the additional costs.  This would result in an inflationary period where the consumer consistently get sticker shock.  Time will tell how this all plays out but its safe to say it won’t be positive for the real estate market!

Those are some of the effects we are seeing from rising hydro costs.  What are you seeing?

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