Waterloo Region: Market Spotlight

Canada’s fastest-growing real estate market

October 17, 2022
  • Scott Figler

Many commercial real estate professionals in Canada are familiar with the acronym “VETCOM.” It refers to what have traditionally been the country’s six largest cities – Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, and Montreal – that comprise the lion’s share of Canada’s population, economic activity, and capital flows. To be a “core” commercial real estate investor often means having significant exposure to these cities.

This is now changing. In 2021, the Waterloo Region set a record for commercial real estate investment with over $3.4B in sales, capping off a five-year run that has placed it among Canada’s top markets from the perspective of capital flows. Though commercial real estate investment has risen across Canada in general, Waterloo Region’s surge far outpaces any other major Canadian market on a relative basis. Looking back over the past five years, it has the fourth-highest average quarterly investment volume, outpacing Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton (see Figure 1).

Waterloo Region presents an intriguing proposition to both owners and users of commercial real estate. Its proximity to Toronto and the U.S. make it an intriguing industrial and logistical hub. Its relative affordability make it attractive for employees and households. The runway for demographic growth make it an interesting office, retail, and multifamily market. The region’s fertile science and technology ecosystem, anchored by its three major universities, make it a consistent pipeline for talent across many industries.

Because it is a place where employers and employees are increasingly choosing to locate, Waterloo Region will become a core Canadian market over the next decade. This report will examine the factors behind its emergence and the challenges this growth could bring.

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