London·Home Values

'You had to jump on it': What it was like to look for a house in London's record-breaking market

Jennifer Martin and her husband were expecting a new baby when they sold their house and moved in with her parents. They thought it would take about a month to find a new place. It actually took seven.

Jennifer Martin and her husband were viewing houses just 2 days after she gave birth

Jennifer Martin says she was caught in several bidding wars over the course of her search. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC News)
 A series exploring real estate, trends and the importance of home

In the past few years, there's been a proliferation of stories about millennials moving back in with their parents.

Usually, it's because they can't find a job.

But for Jennifer Martin, a Montessori teacher based in London, it was because she couldn't find a house.

Martin and her husband sold their Delaware, Ont., home back in January and moved with their young son into her parents' place. They hoped to find a home closer to their families, and expected the process would take about a month or so.

Martin is pictured with her husband, Mike; and children, Griffin and Austin. (Submitted)

At the time, Martin was expecting her second child, and the couple wanted to get settled before the baby was born.

Their newborn son, Austin, is now four months old.

"Before we knew it it was April, May, June and we were still living with my parents," said Martin.

"We couldn't find a house in the southwest of London that was going for the actual price; they were all going for $50,000 over, $100,000 over, $150,000 over."

Fierce competition

Martin's search intersected with one of the hottest housing markets that London has seen in decades.

She recalled going to a home viewing just two days after giving birth.

"That was the market and you had to jump on it," she said.

Martin said her family was caught in several bidding wars, and had to start lowering their standards. One house in particular was listed for $349,000, and she assumed no one else would want it.

"The person that lived there smoked and they didn't open any windows, so the house was full of nicotine yellow spots all over the house," she said.

"We were just willing to redo it and clean it all up and it didn't matter, somebody still went in and got it for $460,000."

After more than 40 viewings, Martin and her family purchased a house in Lambeth, Ont. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC News)

Martin said part of the problem was an influx of buyers from the Greater Toronto Area. She and her husband saw "van-loads" of buyers coming to London and routinely spending at least $100,000 over the asking price.

Home, sweet home

Three weeks ago, Martin's family put in an offer on a house in Lambeth, and it was accepted. After seven months and more than 40 viewings, they will move into their new home on Monday.

The family's initial budget was in the $350,000-$360,000 range; they wound up spending $415,000.

"We had to spend more than we ever anticipated, but hopefully it will all work out in the end," she said.

Starting Monday, CBC London begins of week long series called Home Values.

We'll be looking at the real estate market in London and area.

We'll ask people why they live where they live. We'll ask them why they love their homes.

We'll also delve into the issues surrounding rent and affordability in London.

And, on Friday Sept. 15, London Morning will broadcast live from Ilderton, one of the communities that has been attracting new residents.


Paula Duhatschek


Paula Duhatschek is a reporter with CBC Calgary who previously worked for CBC News in Kitchener and in London, Ont. You can reach her at