WINDSOR, ONT. -- Home prices in Windsor-Essex have jumped 23 per cent since last March to $463,817, according to the Ontario Real Estate Association.

While this is good news for existing homeowners, it’s very unwelcome news for prospective buyers.

Devin Ethier knows that problem well.

“I feel like there’s barriers everywhere I turn. And once i think I got past one, it’s another hurdle i have to jump over,” Ethier says.

The 30-year-old has lost count of the number of times she’s been outbid by out-of-towners, who are scooping up property, site-unseen with no conditions. It’s a practice she says is inflating the market to new highs.


“It’s not good for the community to make it unattainable for people who actually need to live,” Ethier says. “That’s a basic human right is shelter. And to not have it, especially with a well-paying full time job, that’s extremely frustrating. That makes me not want to stay in Windsor so that’s not good for the economy.”


On Wednesday real estate professionals and city officials looked to pinpoint problems and solutions.


Tim Hudak — the president of the Ontario Real Estate Association — says it all comes down to lack of inventory.


“What’s happening is it’s a very cruel game of musical chairs,” says Hudak. “Where you have more and more people circling a fewer amount of chairs.”


But there are signs of help on the horizon. Windsor has seen a development boom, adding thousands of new housing starts in recent years, with more in the pipeline. It’s also seeing progress on the Meadowbrook housing complex on the city’s east end, which will create more than 100 lower-cost units.


“We recognize there’s a need and we want to be sure we’ve done all we can to make sure those folks waiting in the wings have the ability to find a place of their own that makes sense for them,” says Windsor Mayor, Drew Dilkens.


The city is also looking at policy changes like inclusionary zoning, which would ensure a certain percentage of new homes in a development are affordable. Another policy the city is seriously considering is lowering development charges for affordable housing starts.

Tim Hudak says more can be done by the province, but says regulation and new taxes aren’t the answer.


“Reward municipalities who are being pro-homeownership and modernizing bylaws around intensification and innovation in the housing market,” he says.

There’s also a belief among local agents that people holding back listing during the pandemic will soon decide to sell.


“I think we will see a natural opening of the gates when we exit COVID-19 and supply will normalize once again.”