After months of living through lockdowns due to COVID, more people than ever are looking for larger spaces to live in. Not only do they want bigger homes, their wish lists include larger properties too.
Many have their hearts set on country living in particular; they dream of buying a rural lot and moving into a custom home.
If you happen to own any rural land, that means now is a great time to sell. The value of that land has never been higher, and the demand is definitely there.
“COVID has pushed people to want more space. Because of the amount of time they’ve had to spend at home, the desire to move out of that traditional subdivision may be heightened,” says REALTOR® Nick FitzGibbon.
Until now it has, admittedly, been a little bit more expensive to buy a rural lot and live there, because maintenance costs were higher.
“With the real estate market being so strong these past couple of years, many people have
grown a lot of equity in their homes in these subdivisions, so it has actually made it much more feasible to sell your house in the suburbs and to try to build and buy that custom home just outside of town,” he says.
FitzGibbon’s mother owns a farm just outside of Guelph. Years ago, she severed lots off her property and sold them for $300,000; now, 2-acre parcels are selling for well over a million.
If anyone is currently holding onto land and has ever considered severing a lot, with price points this high, it’s much more appealing. “Obviously, with the market doing what it’s doing, it seems like a no-brainer,” says the REALTOR®. “If you have the land and the ability to go through that process, go to the township to sever that lot. There’s such a large carrot at the end of it.”
He does, of course, see both the good and the bad. On the buyer’s side it’s tough, because if you want to build a custom home, the house is going to cost a certain amount and you will only have so much left for the land. With land being so scarce and such a hot commodity these days, it makes building a custom home on a rural lot very expensive.
You might think building your own home is a daunting process, but it all depends on your situation, says FitzGibbon. “A lot of people will work with a builder to actually build the home but securing the lot can be the hardest part. There are a number of builders around that do purchase the lots themselves and then they can build the house, which does make it a lot easier. If you were to try to buy and build it yourself, I would imagine that would be pretty daunting, but there are some great builders out there that would be well-equipped to take on building a custom home,” he says.
Right now he is seeing a very large drive in the Puslinch area, south of Guelph between the 401 and all the way through towards Milton. There are a number of great custom homes there and people like it for a commute because it’s so accessible to the 401. Land that is anywhere close to the city but just outside it is very desirable.
FitzGibbon grew up in the country back when the only internet connection was dial-up. Now there’s high-speed fibre-optic internet. Another improvement? Natural gas. Both networks are constantly growing and extending too. Better rural internet is key, of course, especially with so many people working from home. “If you are out in the country and the internet connection isn’t great, then it’s not an option, right?” he says.
With the growth the city of Guelph has experienced—particularly its sprawl to the south—you can feel as though you’re in the country in a lot of spots, Puslinch included. But you’re actually only five minutes away from all the amenities you need in the south end. It’s the best of both worlds and certainly makes country living a lot easier.
“Urban sprawl has certainly had a huge impact. These lots and these building opportunities are getting fewer and fewer,” he says. Elsewhere there is increased density, with more houses being built on the same amount of land. That’s why these more rural lots are all the more coveted and why they’re being snatched up so quickly.
The need is so great that some builders have even been hunting down lots that aren’t for sale; they are approaching the owners and offering to buy them.
Says FitzGibbon, “If you do have land, now could be the time to go through the process to sever these lots and take something like this on. Before, when they weren’t selling for a ton, it was a bit of a hassle; you never knew if it was going to sell or what it might sell for. But there certainly is high demand now so it’s a good time to take on such a project.”