If you’re looking to invest in a rural area within easy driving distance of several major cities, Chatham-Kent, Ontario offers a lot of opportunities. Its steadily growing population, waterfront location and affordable real estate prices make it a smart choice for real estate investors looking to get in on the ground floor.
Table of Contents - Benefits of Real Estate Investing in Chatham-Kent
With stunning views, diverse cultural offerings and a prime location, Chatham-Kent could be the newest jewel in your portfolio. Here’s what this charming area has to offer novice and experienced investors alike.
Chatham - A location made for trade and manufacturing
Chatham-Kent is a municipality that includes the towns of Blenheim, Chatham, Dresden, Ridgetown, Wheatley, Wallaceburg and Tilbury. It was amalgamated in 1998, but the area’s history is a long one. Originally populated by First Nations tribes (particularly after the American Revolution), it became a naval dockyard in the late 18th century. The municipal area is located on the Thames River and named after the Earl of Chatham, just like the town in England.
In the 19th century, Chatham-Kent was an important part of the Underground Railroad. In fact, there are several slave havens that visitors can tour, including the Uncle Tom’s Cabin National Historic Site. The area once had a large Black population (about a third of the overall population), but once the United States abolished slavery, Black families moved back to America. In the 20th century, the automotive industry took over the area—which is no surprise, considering Chatham-Kent is just an hour away from Detroit.
The municipality is also close to Cleveland, Ohio as well as London and the Greater Toronto Area. Cleveland (just across Lake Erie) is a three and a half-hour drive away, London is an hour away and Toronto city limits are just under three hours away. It’s a fantastic location for anyone who wants the benefits of living near major cities, with the charm of a small town.
Chatham has a steadily growing population
Chatham-Kent’s population was about 101,600, according to the 2016 census, but has recently increased to about 106,000. The municipality has a significant French-speaking population (about seven percent), and are designated French-language service areas. About 10,000 people in the area speak French, particularly in the communities of Tilbury, Grande Pointe and Pain Court. However, the overall demographics are overwhelmingly white and English-speaking.
The median age is 45 years old and has been trending older over the last decade. The largest age group is between 55-59 years old, with about 46 percent of the population married. One and two-person households are by far the biggest demographic, making up about two-thirds of the overall housing market.
According to the Chatham Daily News, there is a good deal of secondary migration happening. Many immigrants are moving to Canada, then moving to Chatham-Kent—the mayor says he frequently hears that it’s a “great community—and not Toronto.” Local real estate experts say that the area is bringing in younger families from the Greater Toronto Area who want to raise their children in the quieter, more affordable area. With remote work on the rise, Chatham-Kent is poised to grow in the next decade.
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Chatham has a stable economy
Chatham-Kent has a relatively stable economy, with the median income hovering at $52,000, and the median family income around $62,000. The average hourly rate is around $18 per hour. The current unemployment rate is eight percent, which has more to do with the COVID-19 pandemic than lack of opportunities—especially due to the popularity of remote work.
The two predominant labour classes are sales and service, and trade and transportation, with manufacturing, retail and healthcare dominating the top industries. Automotive manufacturers are still a significant portion of the labour force to this day. The area is also home to Canada’s largest ethanol plant, thanks to GreenField Specialty Alcohols Inc., as well as a sizable agribusiness sector.
In short, if you plan to invest in Chatham-Kent, plan to market housing to blue-collar workers, and focus your commercial real estate developments on retail and manufacturing.
A solid real estate market
Right now, the average home price in Chatham-Kent is rising, especially in December 2020. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, home sales were up 37 percent in December 2020 over the number of homes sold in December 2019. The annual 2020 average home price came in at $310,244—an increase of 23.4 percent over 2019—while December saw home prices rising to an all-time high of $344,951. This may be due to a general lack of inventory, but other real estate developers are getting in on the deal. For example, Maple City Homes is developing a 400-home subdivision in southwest Chatham. By and large, the majority of Chatham-Kent residents live in detached single-family homes.
The rental market is up, too, although not as dramatically—a one-bedroom apartment averages just under $1,100, up six percent from 2019. Nearly three-quarters of the population owns their own home versus renting.
The ‘Classic Car Capital of Canada’
Although Chatham-Kent is a quieter, rural area, there’s still plenty to see and do. As noted earlier, the area is home to several significant Underground Railroad historical sites—a unique opportunity to see and experience a fascinating, important part of Canadian and the United States history. There are several local museums, including the Chatham-Kent Museum, which focuses on the overall history of the area.
If you love classic cars, you’re in luck. Chatham-Kent is nicknamed The Classic Car Capital of Canada and is home to vintage automobile auction houses and restoration companies. Each year, the annual Retrofest brings hundreds of classic car aficionados to Chatham.
Finally, like much of Ontario, there are plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities to be had. Swimming, kayaking, boating, hiking and more are all possible throughout the region’s rivers, lakes and provincial parks.
Chatham-Kent is an area with plenty of small-town charm and prices—but the affordability might not last. Now is the time to invest in this burgeoning rural area, located in easy driving distance from several major cities.
Real Estate Professionals in Chatham-Kent
We have searched high and low for real estate investing professionals in Chatham-Kent. Below, you can find professionals we have researched and can confirm they specialize in working with Real Estate Investors.
To ensure the maximum success in real estate investing in Chatham-Kent, or any city, you should always use professionals who understand and work with investors, your income depends on it.
This list may not fully list all the professionals in the area, but the ones we have personally investigated and that we would refer our clients to.
If you’re a real estate professional and would like us to consider adding you to the list, please contact us.
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