We caught up with Josy D’Amico, team leader of Realtors of Where You Live, ReMax Garden City to talk about Hamilton’s thriving communities. A Winona resident for 21 years and real estate agent for 15 years. Josy and her team focus on specific neighbourhoods. They serve as a resource to the Ancaster, Binbrook, Burlington, Grimsby, Hamilton, Stoney Creek and Winona areas. Between sips of tea at one of Grimsby’s favourite coffeehouses, Josy and I chat about Hamilton’s revitalized downtown, tips on buying a home, and why to use a realtor.
More and more articles about Hamilton are surfacing by Torontonians like Rebecca Zamon’s list of the best Hamilton restaurants in The Huffington Post Canada and Marcus Gee’s discussion of whether Hamilton is getting too cute in The Globe and Mail. New Hamiltonian Kelly Bennett referred to Hamilton as “Boom town” in the CBC News. What is attracting home-buyers to Hamilton right now? Is it getting too cute?
I’m a big, big fan of Hamilton. I was born and raised here, so I was here when things were fabulous. The downtown core used to be packed, from the Royal Connaught with boutiques at the bottom to the Stelco Tower that brought a lot of people into the hub. When they closed down Stelco Tower, I think it eliminated a lot of people from the core and my generation didn’t keep it up.
Hamilton has always been known as that “steel-city town” and all my life people have talked negatively about it. But it’s changed now. Growth was happening from Toronto to Mississauga. Mississauga got built up and growth went to Oakville. Oakville got built up and got expensive. Burlington got built up and got expensive. If you don’t have to be close to Toronto, if your office is out of Toronto, Hamilton is a beautiful place to live. It’s up to us Hamiltonians to stop people from talking down about Hamilton and bring out its beauty because there is a lot to be proud of.
What are some of the most popular areas for real estate? Are you noticing any relationships between certain age groups migrating to certain neighbourhoods?
Right now the hotspot is downtown, so we’re getting a lot of condominiums there. Two sets of people are migrating there: the young, more so, but we’re also getting the older ones who really do appreciate Hamilton and want to invest in Hamilton, so they will buy a condo like the Royal Connaught. You’ll also see some of the retirement community, but not too much. You usually don’t see young families living downtown whether it’s our downtown or any downtown.
There are also other beautiful areas: I really like Winona and Grimsby. It’s a beautiful and award-winning wine region and a great place to raise a family. I also really like Stoney Creek and Ancaster. Even downtown there’s great communities like the Aberdeen area, the hospital, and the university. We have great neighbourhoods and they’re all different. There’s a bit of good in each of them. When I sit down with someone, I ask what they’re looking for, how many kids they have, etc. to put their preferences in order and tailor options to what interests them.
So why buy a home in Hamilton versus some of its neighbours, for example, Burlington?
I think you should be in Burlington if you need to be in Burlington. You’re going to have a much better condo in Hamilton than in Burlington because the value is higher. In Burlington you’re buying the convenience of being closer to Toronto.
The 2006 Growth Related Integrated Development Strategy (GRIDS) Report by the City of Hamilton predicted that the city’s population would increase to approx. 570,000 in 2031, concentrated in Flamborough, Glanbrook, and Upper Hamilton. Do you think we’re on that track now?
Right now, we’re dealing with the urban boundary expansion because we need more units. Between 50 Road and Fruitland Road in Winona there will be 6,000 homes built soon. In about 10-15 years, Ancaster’s farms will see tons of growth.
What advice would you give people planning on buying or selling right now?
It depends who it is. Make sure you have your down payment and invest in Hamilton, especially young professionals who are making good money. Make a plan for yourself. Get a house every two years, it’s only going to go up in value. You can rent it out or lease it out. Real estate is a sure thing. it’s not playing with the stock market. As long as you have stamina to stay in the game, you’re going to win.
Before you buy, consider these questions:
What’s your budget?
Where do you want to live?
How far in advance are you planning?
What is the condition of the property?
Does the home fit into your lifestyle?
For sellers, start by making a plan and choosing a listing agent. Always go on the market when there are no houses on the market. A lot of people think that spring time is the best time but it’s not because there will be competition. Everyone wants to list their house in the springtime. If you list when no one is on the market, that’s when you’re going to get your highest value. It depends though, if you have a place with a beautiful pool, you’ll want to show it off.
The biggest advice for selling or even buying is to use a realtor and listen to their advice. A lot of people think that they can do it on their own and they will save.
Why should someone use a realtor instead?
Our biggest role is negotiating. We’re out of the situation, so selling or buying a home is not personal for us. When it’s personal and between two people who don’t have an agent, it’s the negotiations that fall apart. Because sometimes people think they’re saving money on the commission, they leave a lot on the table. It’s also very important to stay quiet when you’re going through the home to let your realtor communicate on your behalf. Also, listen to your realtor when they’re pricing the home. They’re looking at all of the comparables. Because it’s personal, a lot of people think their house is worth more than it is. Sometimes we get the opposite too.
What are some of your favourite communities downtown?
Winona because it’s my home. I do like downtown Hamilton and I’ve been trying to get there a lot. I love James St. and Ottawa St. and I try to visit on the weekends to support that core.
For more information about Realtors of Where You Live, contact Josy D’Amico at 905-777-1122 or firstname.lastname@example.org