Economic activity expected to spur home starts in St. Thomas region
The London, Ont. and St. Thomas, Ont. home building industry is looking at better times ahead.
While affordability challenges remain, stabilizing interest rates and new economic opportunities are expected to help turn things around.
“Yeah we’ve seen a slow down in starts, we’ve seen a slowdown in clients coming and asking,” said Robert Adzija, a representative for John Roberts Signature Homes. “It’s nice that the last two or three weeks we’ve seen a little more interest.”
Adzija could be found at the St. Thomas Home Show Sunday, trying to generate interest in custom build homes as the spring and summer construction season approaches.
London couple Alex and Linda Nedeljkovic took in the home show, being held at the Joe Thornton Community Centre.
They say they’re thinking about having a home built, but they’re not about to rush in to anything.
“Actually a few months now, kinda just been looking on the market and seeing what’s available and kind of pricing out homes, and seeing what’s out there,” said Linda.
“What would have been a manageable mortgage is now substantial, so you’re going to have to weigh out your options of pricing,” added Alex.
Jared Zaifman, the CEO of the London Home Builders Association, told CTV News a perfect storm of factors caused a major slowdown in the sale of new builds, including rising interest rates.
“Interest rates really, the continuous hikes had a really big impact on the industry for a long time,” he explained. “And that is the biggest thing that we’ve been sharing with our federal partners in Ottawa. And honestly, glad to see interest rates starting to stabilize.”
Just as rising interest rates and a number of other factors caused a slowdown in the home building industry, economic activity on the horizon in this region is expected to get the machines humming once again, and the shovels in the ground.
Chief among that economic activity is the Volkswagon EV battery plant being built in St. Thomas, and expected to come on stream in 2027.
St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston said the thousands of builders and contractors working to build the plant will need somewhere to live.
“We need a lot more than just single family homes,” said Preston. “There will be markets, there isn’t an empty one sitting around, people are buying those too. But we need market-rent apartments, high density, a number of rental apartments in St. Thomas, and these builders have to help us with that too.”
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