It is fairly easy to identify the city’s most expensive or least expensive neighbourhood. It is easy to identify the neighbourhood that saw the hottest growth in the previous year. But how would you identify London Ontario’s most average neighbourhood?
At stevebaarda.com we focus on a few different numbers to assess the real estate market for the city, the north, east and south regions as well as each of the local areas. One number is the over all average price. We also break that apart into the condo and detached homes markets. We note the change from year to year, whether each is going up or down and by what percentage. We also note the volume of sales in each neighbourhood.
I have been asked by clients and other acquaintances what is a “typical” neighbourhood in London? It is an interesting question and not one easily answered. Is there a typical neighbourhood in London? Is it the area that has all the different ages and styles of homes that can be found throughout the city? Is it the area with the most average price point? Will it be a local that has a number of features common to the city, such as access to the rivers and the excellent network of parks that run along the rivers?
For the purposes of this article, we are going to try to mix hard sales data with a more subjective approach. Hopefully, London’s “Most Average Neighbourhood” will fill the bill in both regards.
The average price for London Ontario in 2013 for all residential properties including both condos and detached homes was $246,750. Detached homes averaged $270,859 and condos averaged $176,490 in 2013. The ratio in terms of how many of each were sold was almost exactly 75% detached homes and 25% condos.
There are five neighbourhoods that are close enough to all three price averages to have a shot at being the most average neighbourhood:
The first thing you notice among all of these contenders is that there is a lot of variation in prices, not just from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, but also in terms of the differences between condo and house prices in the different areas. Overall, the total variation from the average works out as follows:
To be honest, these numbers surprised me. Going by my gut, before starting to run the numbers, I would have pegged either Stoney Creek or Westmount as the neighbourhoods that would track closest to the averages, but they ended up the fourth and fifth closest to the average. The real shocker is that Old South tracked the closest to the city wide averages.
Before we crown Old South as the city’s most average neighbourhood, when we look at the mix of detached homes to condos, we discover that only 12% of all sales in Old South were condo sales, well off the city average of 25%. Medway’s numbers were closer, with condos making up 34% of sales in 2013. Westmount has the same percentage split as Medway. Summerside has 80/20 percentage mix of residential to condo sales in 2013 and Stoney Creek hit the city average exactly with a 75/25 split.
Now that we have looked at the numbers, its time to get subjective. Summerside is perhaps the least representative neighbourhood of the five as the area as a whole is only about 15 years old or newer and lacks many of the services and amenities of the other neighbourhoods that give London its unique character. In addition, other than niche French First Language schools, the area has no public schools of its own.
Old South, even though it is one of the city’s three historic neighbourhoods with Wortley Village, The Green, access to the city’s riverside trail and park system, good schools and an area whose quality of life is trumpeted by its residents, all of these things together make it a unique and desirable place to live but not terribly average. If anything, its biggest selling point is its uniqueness and not its “average-ness.” In spite of having pricing numbers that track the closest to the city averages, the subjective reasons when combined with the relative lack of condos in the area, seem to strike it from contention.
That leaves us with three contenders: Westmount, Medway and Stoney Creek. All three have access to services, shopping, schooling and green space features that make London such a livable city. None of the three neighbourhoods have direct access to the conservation areas or riverside park and bicycle trail network that help give London the name “The Forest City.” All three areas are a mix of older homes built in the 1960’s and 1970’s and newer homes as all three touch the edges of London where new construction and “suburban sprawl” is taking place. In that regard, from a subjective measure, all three are fairly “typical” London neighbourhoods.
That brings us back to the numbers. Westmount is the farthest off the averages of the three. Even though Stoney Creek has a detached home/condo mix that is in line with the city averages, Medway Heights average sales prices track closest in line with city averages and the deviations from those averages are the most consistent. Even though it was a close battle to middle, Medway Heights earns the distinction as London, Ontario’s most average neighbourhood in 2013.