The downtown and east end will be the hottest spots of a steady Hamilton housing market next year, according to an economist from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

"Overall, the Hamilton market will be healthy," said Abdul Kargbo, a senior market analyst for the CMHC, speaking on Tuesday in front of a group of about 300 real-estate industury stakeholders at Burlington's Royal Botanical Gardens.

He said first-time home buyers between the ages of 24 and 44, as well as migrants from Toronto, will help sustain demand for housing in the Hamilton Census Metropolitan Area (HCMA), which contains Hamilton, Burlington and Grimsby.

"These are the people who'll be driving the recovery into next year," he said.

"The main reason is affordability," said Kargbo, explaining Hamilton's attractiveness among people in the 25-to-44 demographic.

The CMHC predicts that average listing price for houses in the Hamilton area will have peaked by the end of 2012 at just over $360,000. Prices are expected to stabilize at around $350,000 by the end of 2013.

In contrast, Toronto has an average listing price of about $500,000.

Homeowners in Hamilton's downtown and east end will benefit most from the demand, according to the CMHC, as they'll see a bump in resale activity. The condominium and townhouse markets in Glanbrook and Stoney Creek are expected to see increased demand, too.

However, sales of existing houses in the city's west, mountain and Stoney Creek regions are predicted to remain flat, while sales are expected to decrease in Burlington, Ancaster and Flamborough.

That decrease is attributed to high house prices in those areas, which are more in line with in the Greater Toronto Area.