What Is a Duplex?

The search for a new home can be equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking! There seem to be endless real estate terms that you need to learn to find the ideal place. During your search, you may have come across a few duplexes.

With similarities to both a detached house and an apartment, it seems like a great compromise. However, whether you’re looking to rent or buy, it’s essential to know precisely what a duplex is.

The Basics

In a nutshell, a duplex is a single-unit property that has been divided into two living spaces. Known as multi-family homes, they typically look like large detached houses. There are three main ways to tell them apart from a standard apartment:

  • Ownership
  • Shared spaces
  • Number of units

Ownership

A condo or apartment block is typically owned by a group, corporation or investors. Meanwhile, a duplex is owned by one person. The owner may live in one half of the duplex and rent out the second half, occupy both units or rent out both of them.

Shared Spaces

Unlike an apartment block, a duplex has two separate entrances, one for each living space. The two living areas are entirely independent of one another, except for a single shared wall. Duplexes can stand side by side, or they can be stacked. Either way, the living space is generally more or less the same size.

The front and backyards are the only parts of the space that may be shared. However, they’re often partitioned to allow both residents a little privacy.

Number of Units

A duplex will only ever have two units, whereas an apartment building comprises several units housed within a single block. You can also find triplex and quadplex houses, similar to duplexes but including three and four units.

Duplex vs. Twin/Semi-Detached Home

At first glance, a duplex looks very much like a twin/semi-detached home. Both feature a single building that has been split into two residential units.

The difference is that a duplex sits on a single plot of land, and a single entity owns the entire building. Meanwhile, each half of a twin home is owned independently and sits on its own plot of land.

 

Duplex Pros and Cons

So far, a duplex seems like a pretty good idea. It feels more like living in a detached home than a standard apartment while enjoying some of the benefits of a condo. But there are some potential caveats. So let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons.

Advantages

A duplex can represent a fantastic middle-ground, especially in high-density areas where affordable detached homes are rare.

  • All the benefits of a standard house: With amenities such as a yard, garage, and the privacy of a fully independent living area, a duplex offers almost everything that a single family home does.
  • More affordable: If you’re looking to rent, duplexes are typically more affordable than single family homes, allowing you to get more bang for your buck and find a more affordable option in a desirable neighborhood. And if you’re looking to buy, the income you obtain from renting out one of the units (or both) will help offset your mortgage payments.
  • Just one neighbor: With only one neighbor nearby, the chances of upsetting each other are drastically reduced. Plus, you’re less likely to bother each other with noise with just one shared wall.
  • Suitable for large families: If you’re looking to be close to your relatives, a duplex can be an excellent option that offers both proximity and privacy.

Disadvantages

There are some things to be aware of before you sign on the dotted line, though:

  • Problems with shared spaces: While you’ll only be sharing the front and backyard, this can lead to tension from time to time. Parking issues can arise, and different lifestyles can cause upset when it comes to things like garden parties. However, in many duplexes, even the outdoor areas are partitioned for additional privacy.
  • Common area upkeep: You’re generally not responsible for maintaining common areas in an apartment building. However, in a duplex, you’ll need to do your part.

Is a Duplex Right for Me?

A duplex can be an excellent choice if you’re looking to rent. Just be sure to weigh up the pros and cons and see if it works for you.

As a buyer, a duplex can be seen as an excellent investment. It allows you to live on-site and get to know your tenant or simply rent both units out. Or, if you want a home for a large family, you can occupy both units to give everyone their privacy.

Canada Still Sells Homes for Less Than $200K — Just Not in Its Most Coveted Cities

 

In the backdrop of the country’s adverse housing market, a wider search beyond Canada’s largest and most expensive cities shows regional pockets of affordability

Housing affordability is a subjective matter, but it takes on a whole different meaning in Canada’s post-pandemic market: Following a 30% hike compared to early 2020, the national median price recently reached nearly twice the U.S. median. With home prices swelling to record numbers in the last two years, homebuyers found themselves readjusting their budgets.

Although not the lowest figure, $200,000 (about one-quarter of the average national home price) is a suitable reference point to gauge the share of what is now referred to as an “affordable listing.” The reality is that $200K isn’t enough to land a home in almost any of Canada’s most coveted cities. In fact, only about10% of all homes for sale in Canada are less than $200K — and very few of them are in major cities, where median home prices are exploding.

What’s more, as urban hubs continue to deal with sky-high demand and similarly sky-high costs, data shows that housing options for less than $200,000 are incredibly scarce in the top 50 largest and most expensive cities: These needles in the haystack account for less than 1% of the entire stock for sale.

However, the chance of finding a home for sale for less than $200K increases when zooming in on the most populous cities within a region. Point2 analysts discovered that homebuyers who are willing to expand their house-hunting grounds to the largest cities in The Prairies, Atlantic Canada or Québec can have their pick of broader concentrations of more affordable listings.

Here’s what caught our eye at the national and regional levels:

  • 38 of Canada’s 50 largest, most expensive cities — which, incidentally, are all in Ontario and British Columbia — showcase zero listings for less than $200,000.
  • Kawartha Lakes, ON is the only larger city where more than 1% of all homes for sale are less than $200K.
  • Among the largest cities at the regional level, Cape Breton, NS, in Atlantic Canada boasts the highest share of homes for sale under $200K: 44%.
  • Populous cities across The Prairies have the most homes for sale under 200K, particularly Edmonton, AB (1,300), and Regina, SK (400).

Ontario & BC: Your Only Shots for Homes Under $200K in the Big City

Beyond ever-evolving prices, the housing crisis has been blamed on various factors, from scarce affordable inventory to increased nationwide demand caused by immigration. And although legislative documents (like the recently proposed More Homes for Everyone Act) support speedy development, things are looking bleak for home buyers in Canada’s main hubs.

Settling in the largest, most desirable cities comes with an extreme price tag, so the chances of finding a starter home here are close to zero. Literally. Only 12 of the 50 most expensive large cities display homes for sale for less than $200,000  all in Ontario and British Columbia. (Spoiler alert: None of them are Toronto or Vancouver). Even so, the percentages are a letdown for homebuyers on a budget.

Kawartha Lakes, ON, sets itself apart with almost 5% of for-sale stock priced at $200,000 or less (many of them vacation homes). Trailing way behind are cities like Kelowna (0.96%) or Surrey, BC (0.46%), where the odds of finding something more affordable become increasingly unfavorable.

Interestingly enough, listings below $200K are nonexistent in both Welland, ON— where the median price is the lowest among the 50 largest cities — and in Richmond Hill, ON, where the median price is almost double the national average.

Big Cities in Atlantic Canada & The Prairies Boast Highest Shares of Listings Under $200K

While the 50 largest cities in the nation don’t offer a great deal of hope, things are looking up in the largest cities in each region. According to Statistics Canada, more people are leaving the country’s main hubs for less hyped-up areas — and understandably so: $200,000 might not get you much in the glitzy cities, but it can access a wider selection of more affordable homes at the regional level.

Regional affordability difference is reflected in the number of cities with listings under $200K in each analyzed region. Specifically, most of the larger cities in Atlantic Canada and The Prairies showed significant shares of less expensive homes for sale, as opposed to Ontario or BC.

Below, read more on the percentage of homes for sale for less than $200,000 in the most populous cities in five regions: The Prairies, Atlantic Canada, Québec, Ontario, and British Columbia.

The Prairies: 8 Cities with Considerable Shares of Listings Under $200K

On top of making various lists of affordable cities, the concentrations of homes priced below $200,000 range from 36.50% in Regina, SK, to almost 7% in Calgary, AB. Notably, although Edmonton, AB, falls somewhere in the middle with nearly 25% of all homes for sale coming in at $200K or less, the city actually claimed the highest number of such listings with almost 1,300. Other cities with significant shares of homes for sale for $200K or less are: Lethbridge, AB (26.10%), Saskatoon, SK (23.47%), Winnipeg, MB (23.45%), Red Deer, AB (22.80%), and Airdrie, AB (8.43%).

Atlantic Canada: Cape Breton Island Overflows with 44% of Listings Under $200K

With most of its large cities flaunting median prices well below the national average, Atlantic Canada doesn’t disappoint when it comes to more affordable homes. For example, of all stock for sale in Cape Breton, NS, more than 44% is less than $200,000, followed by 26.7% in Saint John, NB, and 13.46% in St. John’s, NL. Coincidentally, Halifax, NS — the largest of the six — has the smallest share of homes for sale for less than $200K (1.63%), while also posting the highest median price among the region’s largest cities at nearly $598,000.

 

Québec: Shares of Affordable Dwellings Dwindle Following Québec City’s 9.8%; Montréal at 0.3%

Perhaps surprisingly, Québec City logs the most affordable median price in the region at a little more than $331,000. Furthermore, the share of listings priced below $200K here closes in on 10% — a percentage that translates into about 240 homes on the more affordable side. At the same time, gradually smaller shares around 1% to 2% are found in Longueuil, Gatineau, and Laval. As you might expect, Montréal boasts the highest number of overall homes for sale (about 4,900), although only 0.31% — 15 of them — are priced below $200,000.

British Columbia: Slim Pickings Below $200K as Region Posts $1M Median Home Price

As we enter $1M median home price territory, it’s no wonder that affordability gets harder and harder to reach. In fact, the median home price is more than $1 million in the five largest cities in BC. Right off the bat, the highest concentration of homes less than $200K feels like a harsh reality check: just 0.46% in Surrey (most of them manufactured homes). Meanwhile, none of the 3,200 homes for sale in Vancouver go for less than $200,000, and the situation is similar in nearby Burnaby. And, although Abbotsford has the lowest median price among the region’s largest cities ($1,078,000) and 14 in 1,000 homes here are for sale, a measly 0.26% of its for-sale stock is priced at $200,000 or less.

Ontario: Hamilton & Ottawa the Only Large Cities with Listings Under $200K

Between British Columbia and Ontario, finding affordable options is almost impossible for homebuyers on a budget. There are simply no homes for sale for less than $200K in Toronto, nor in nearby Mississauga or Brampton. And, although Hamilton and Ottawa do offer shares of such listings, the percentages are negligible at 0.24% and 0.14%, respectively.

For more on the shares of homes currently for sale for less than $200,000 in Canada’s most populous cities by region, check out the table below:

While $200,000 as the new affordability threshold might sound surreal to some, there are silver linings on the Canadian horizon. The need for housing caused the national vacancy rate to fall for the first time in 20 years. More importantly, prices began to slow in the spring, with optimistic forecasts of further drops by the end of the year. Here’s hoping.

Methodology

  • For the nationwide ranking, we looked at median home prices in the top 100 most populous cities in Canada to determine the 50 most expensive large cities in the country. We then analyzed the number of homes below $200,000 in each of them.
  • At the regional level, we selected the top cities by population in single province regions, as well as in multiple province regions. The Prairies and Atlantic Canada group multiple provinces due to the low number of highly populated cities.
  • We looked at the largest cities with the highest shares of listings below $200,000 in each region, namely: The Prairies, Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, Québec, and Ontario.
  • To gauge the inventory of homes for sale for less than $200,000 in each city, we examined and counted listings from REALTOR.ca. The study was based on all active listings, as well as listings pending sale, priced up to and including $200,000 at the time of the analysis (the first week of May 2022).
  • We used MLS Benchmark Composite Prices for the majority of the cities included in the analysis, with the exception of Montréal, Hamilton, Halifax, Laval, London, Gatineau, Longueuil, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Cape Breton, Belleville, where we considered Median or Average Sale Prices as per local MLS monthly reports, and Montréal, Laval, Longueuil, Kelowna, Kamloops, where we used a weighted average of the prices for each property type to determine the Composite Price. Where unavailable at city level, we looked at Local MLS Prices at regional level: Québec, Longueuil, Kelowna, Saanich, Brantford, Nanaimo, Victoria, Saint John, and Fredericton.

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage and freely grant permission to reuse, host or repost this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to Point2Homes.com or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology.

Buying a cottage this summer? Here’s what’s happening in some of the most popular recreational regions in Canada.

Two kayakers on a peaceful lake at sunset

As thousands of Canadians make their way to cottage country this May long weekend – the unofficial start of summer – many will be on the hunt for a recreational property to call their own. If you’re one of them, you may be curious to know what’s new since the release of the Royal LePage Spring Recreational Property Report in March of this year. We checked in with our real estate experts in some of the most popular cottage regions across the country to understand the latest market trends, and to find out what we can expect this season.

Pays-d’en-Haut (Laurentians), Quebec

In the Regional County Municipality of Pays-d’en-Haut in the Laurentians, single-family home sales were down 38% in the months of March and April, 2022, compared to the same period last year, due to the supply shortage. In April, active listings in the single-family segment dropped by more than 18% year-over-year. Éric Léger, real estate broker, Royal LePage Humania, says that 26 months into the pandemic, demand for real estate remains strong, even if less so than the spring of 2021. 

“Properties priced below $500,000 continue to attract multiple offers,” he said. “There are still a large number of experienced buyers in the market prepared to compete. But, for first-time buyers, the challenge remains and some have been priced out due to high home ownership costs.”

The median price of a single-family home in the region reached $515,000 over the course of March and April, 2022, a 22.6% increase over the same period last year; a jump of nearly $100,000. 

Memphrémagog (Eastern Townships), Quebec

In the Regional County Municipality of Memphrémagog, strong demand continues to outstrip supply. Single-family home sales were down 27% in the months of March and April, 2022, compared to the same period last year. Dan Coutu, real estate broker, Royal LePage Au Sommet in Estrie, says there has been a slight uptick in inventory in recent weeks.  

“New inventory is being added for all property types, which could help to alleviate some of the competition in the market, although it is unlikely there will be enough supply to have a significant impact on prices in the short-term,” he said. “Buyers with a budget of less than $700,000 will have to compromise on something, including moving further out to find an affordable property close to the water.”

The median price of a single-family home in the region reached $491,000 over the course of March and April, 2022, a 16.9% increase over the same period last year. For properties on or close to the water, that figure jumps to more than $800,000. 

Southern Georgian Bay, Ontario

As reported in March, the median price of a single-family home in Southern Georgian Bay – which includes Collingwood, Meaford, Wasaga Beach and Thornbury – was 27.5% higher in 2021 than the year prior. Desmond von Teichman, broker, Royal LePage Locations North, says home prices are continuing to rise despite lower activity levels at the start of the spring market. 

“So far in 2022, total sales in the region are down 25% compared to the same period last year, but prices are up almost 30%. Compared to an average pre-pandemic year, however, sales remain well above the norm. Even with less demand than last year, there is still not enough supply to satisfy all those in search of a home in Southern Georgian Bay, be it a vacation property or a primary residence,” he said, adding that open houses have once again become popular. Royal LePage expects demand will continue to outstrip supply this year.

Muskoka, Ontario

As reported in March, the median price of a single-family home in Muskoka was 49.0% higher in 2021 than the year prior, while waterfront properties were up 28.7%. John O’Rourke, broker, Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka, says home prices in the region are continuing to rise as a chronic shortage of waterfront homes continues to create tight competition for buyers. 

“While the rise in interest rates, the high price of gas and other consumer goods, and a general sense of fatigue have reduced the number of buyers in the market, at least for the time being, we remain firmly in a seller’s market. In the first four months of 2022, waterfront property sales were down 58% compared to the same time last year. However, an attractive waterfront property is still going to sell at a premium. Educated buyers who are serious about owning in Muskoka are willing to pay top dollar. I don’t expect that to change,” he said. O’Rourke noted that the months of inventory was four times higher in April than the same month last year, indicating an eventual return to a more balanced market.

Canmore, Alberta

As reported in March, the median price of a single-family home in Canmore was 32.7% higher in 2021 than the year prior. Brad Hawker, associate broker, Royal LePage Solutions, says current demand remains strong in the region, which continues to be extremely popular with buyers from all across the country, since the start of the pandemic. 

“In the first four months of 2022, sales in Canmore were approximately 35% higher than an average year, but compared to the record-setting 2021 figures, sales were actually down 39%.This is due in large part to a drop in active inventory,” he said. Hawker noted that low supply is continuing to drive strong competition in the market, resulting in many homes still selling in multiple-offer scenarios, above the asking price; fewer, however, than during the peak in February and early March. Royal LePage expects home prices will continue to rise through the remainder of 2022.  

Central Okanagan, British Columbia

As reported in March, the median price of a single-family home in Central Okanagan was 22.2% higher in 2021 than the year prior, while waterfront properties were up 20.2%. Francis Braam, broker, Royal LePage Kelowna, says that market activity is now beginning to return to pre-pandemic levels. 

“Although supply shortages continue to challenge buyers across the region, inventory was up 8% year-over-year in April. Demand has reduced in recent months due to rising interest rates as well as buyer fatigue. And, some buyers are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach, in the unlikely event that prices drop significantly. In April, unit sales were down 35% compared to the same month last year,” he said. Royal LePage expects home prices to hold steady, and that activity in the condominium market will remain popular among buyers looking for vacation properties that can be rented out.

For price data in these and many other recreational regions across the country, use the links below to read the Royal LePage Spring Recreational Property Report and price chart.

2022 home price forecast increased after exceptionally strong first quarter

 

Happy couple sits on a couch with their young daughter looking at a laptop in a room with several plants

Royal LePage has increased its 2022 forecast following record price gains in the first quarter of 2022. The aggregate price of a home in Canada is expected to be 15% higher in the fourth quarter of this year compared to the end of 2021, following a supercharged start to the year. As we enter the spring market, buyer hopefuls continue to be challenged by tight competition, due to a chronic shortage of supply, despite a slight increase of inventory hitting the market in some regions. 

“Entering 2022, we had anticipated a strong first half, and moderating real estate markets thereafter. Call it buyer fatigue or easing demand, these periods of uncomfortably high home price appreciation do run their course. We are seeing the first signs of moderation in some regions, as more inventory is becoming available and competition eases slightly,” said Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage. “The first quarter of the year was so strong, however, that we are bumping up our 2022 outlook. And, home prices will continue to climb in the months ahead as a result of our relentless low supply-high demand imbalance.”

While some properties may be attracting fewer bids than last year, and buyer behaviour is beginning to shift – given the recent increase in interest rates and the expectation of several more to come – listings in popular neighbourhoods that are priced appropriately continue to draw multiple offers and are selling above the list price. 

Nationally, the aggregate price of a home increased 25.1% year-over-year to $856,900 in the first quarter of 2022; the highest gain on record since the Company began tracking aggregate prices. When broken out by housing type, the national median price of a single-family detached home rose 26.7% year-over-year to $906,100, while the median price of a condominium increased 19.7% year-over-year to $612,900.21.

Read Royal LePage’s first quarter release for national and regional insights. 

First quarter press release highlights:

  • Early signs of moderation appear as some urban markets unveil improved conditions for buyers
  • Promising new federal and provincial policies aimed at tackling housing availability and affordability not expected to provide relief in 2022
  • Kingston, Ontario, posts highest year-over-year aggregate and detached home price gains in Canada for the second straight quarter 
  • Four markets in Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe region report median single-family detached home prices above $1 million for first time
 

Canada’s hot recreational property market is set to keep sizzling through 2022

Strong demand for cottages, and properties in close proximity to lakes and mountains, continues to outpace supply in recreational regions across Canada. According to the Royal LePage 2022 Spring Recreational Property Report, the aggregate price of a single-family home in Canada’s recreational market is forecast to increase by 13% in 2022, to $640,710. This is following a 26.6% year-over-year increase in prices last year. 

Even taking into account reduced pandemic-related restrictions, including a return to international travel, and the potential for a series of interest rate hikes over the course of the next two years, experts in recreational regions say the spring market is already off to a competitive start. According to the report, 84% of recreational property experts report lower inventory than last year in their respective regions. 

“The factors challenging Canada’s residential real estate market – chronic low supply and growing demand – are amplified in the recreational property segment,” said Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage. “Demand for recreational properties continues to vastly outstrip inventory in many cottage regions across the country. Waterfront and mountain-top locations near cities are limited by nature, even in a vast land like Canada, forcing buyers into multiple-offer scenarios. Even more than in urban regions, it is vital that buyers and sellers employ the services of a local agent who has recreational market expertise.”

Highlights from the national release:

  • Nationally, the aggregate price of a single-family waterfront property surged 21.5% year-over-year in 2021.
  • Single-family homes in Ontario’s recreational property market recorded the highest year-over-year aggregate price appreciation in 2021, rising 34.6%. 
  • Quebec and Atlantic Canada expected to see highest recreational property price gains in 2022, rising 15%; single-family recreational homes in Ontario and British Columbia forecast to increase 13% and 12%, respectively.