Detached home prices
Hamilton’s average house price in March 2021 was $804,223, up 32% from $607,939 in March 2020. This unprecedented rise was due to increased demand, reduced supply and low interest rates: in March 2021 the number of listings was 650 compared to 1,036 in March 2020. The most expensive areas were Flamborough and Ancaster, each with average prices over $1 million. The most affordable homes were in Hamilton Centre where the average sale price was $605,000, an increase of 33% from the prior year.1
Two-bedroom apartment rents
The average rent for all two-bedroom units (including both rented and vacant units), in Hamilton rose 5% to $1,184 in October 2020, up from $1,130 in October 2019.2 Rents for vacant (available to rent) two-bedroom units in Hamilton jumped 25% between March 2020 and March 2021 to an average cost of $2,057 from $1,639.3 Over the past decade, Hamilton rents have risen 49%: more than double the increase in cost of living. Rents have increased in all areas of the city and across all unit types, with Ancaster, Dundas and the city core being the most expensive.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation considers a rental market “healthy” when it has a vacancy rate of 3%. In 2020, Hamilton’s vacancy rate decreased to 3.8% overall (3.5% for two-bedroom units) from 4.4% the previous year. CMHC cites decreased home-buying by renters as the main reason for this tightening.
Number of people seeking emergency shelter
The number of people who used an emergency shelter at some point remained steady between 2017 and 2019 at approximately 2,900 people. While reliable totals are not available for 2020, the pandemic forced the opening of alternative facilities for anyone who was COVID-positive and homeless. Many people stayed in tents or encampments instead of using emergency shelters.
An understanding of who uses emergency shelters was greatly enhanced by a “Point in Time Count” conducted in 2016 by the City of Hamilton and the 20,000 Homes campaign. They interviewed 504 people who were experiencing homelessness in Hamilton over a two-day period.4 They found:
- 72% were men, and 28% were women.
- 41% were between the ages of 31-49, and 34% were between 50 and 64.
- 348 people (75%) reported experiencing homelessness for six months or longer.
- 28% identified as Indigenous or as having Indigenous ancestry.
- 42% reported having a mental health condition, and 38% reported a serious medical condition.
- 38% reported having a substance use condition.
- Women are more likely than men to become homeless because of trauma (66% vs 37%), to have foster care experience as a child (37% vs 26%) and to experience violence after becoming homeless (34% vs 29%).
Social housing waitlist
The number of households on the waitlist for rent-geared-to-income housing increased to 6,647 in December 2020 up from 6,231 in 2019. This increase occurred in spite of the fact that 662 households were housed in 2020, up from 595 in 2019.5
For the last three years, the waiting list has been over 6,000 households, and represents an 81% increase from 2007, when 3,663 households were waiting.6 The average wait varies by area of the city and type of housing requested. For single-family homes and one-bedroom apartments, the wait can be over eight years. For bachelor units, the wait can be much shorter.
Annual housing starts
The number of new housing starts in 2020 was 2,345, of which 1,291 were apartments. Only 48 of the apartments were intended for the rental market, with the balance being intended for ownership. The number of new housing starts was similar to the 2,396 starts in 2019, and the 2,497 units started in 2018. Over the past decade, the number of housing starts has fluctuated between 1,800 and 2,500 units.7
 Realtor’s Association of Hamilton Burlington, March report. Accessed May 2021.
 Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Rental Market Report 2020. Accessed May 2021.
 Rentals.ca. March rent report. Accessed May 2021.
 City of Hamilton (2016, 2018). Point in time connection.
 City of Hamilton 2021. Healthy and Safe Communities Operating Budget. Presented January 28, 2021.
 Author’s calculations. Hamilton Community Foundation, Vital Signs, First edition. 2008.
 Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Hamilton – Historical Starts by Dwelling Types. Accessed May 2021.