Sarnia-Lambton Overall Market

The impacts of the Covid pandemic are clearly reflected in the number of active commercial/industrial listings between 2020 and 2021. In 2021 Sarnia-Lambton had 154 closed transactions compared to 66 closed transactions in 2020. The bulk of the difference was on the leasing side with 100 leases signed in 2021 compared to 28 leases signed in 2020. On the sold side the differences were less severe with 44 commercial sales and 10 industrial sales in 2021 compared with 37 commercial sales and 7 industrial sales in 2020. The combined dollar value of sold commercial and industrial transactions in 2021 was $27,700,398 compared to $24,797,288 in 2020. In 2021 the median commercial leasing asking price was $13.00 and the median industrial asking price was $10.00. 2022 is expected to see stronger sales as more than 80% of the population is vaccinated and government restrictions are being reduced as the impacts from Covid subside.

Industrial Market

The industrial market across North America is very tight with record low inventories, rising leasing and sales prices. This has been driven by a combination of factors with the most prominent being the demand for warehousing and fulfillment center space created by on-line commerce. There has been robust growth in the high technology and advanced manufacturing sectors which requires more modern highly automated facilities for which older 1950 and 1960’ buildings are generally unsuitable. In recent years there has been, limited speculative building as new construction is more expensive and rents and sales prices need to be able to support such development. Markets currently justify such new developments.

No national/international real estate firms’ track the Sarnia-Lambton market. CBRE covers London and Windsor. The fall 2021 CBRE market report showed a .08% vacancy rate for London with average base rent at $7.50 sq, ft and an average selling price of $120 per sq.ft. Cap rates are running 4.75% to 5.75% for A space and 6:00%-6.75% for B space. A review of the Sarnia-Lambton market by Coldwell Baker shows there is limited industrial space available, especially for space greater that 5,000 sq.ft. The median asking base rent in 2021 was $10.00 and the median sale price was $99.00 per sq. ft. 197,000 sq. ft. of space was sold in 2021 compared with 102,848 Sq. ft in 2020. Based upon anticipated local projects, especially in the energy industry, demand is expected to remain strong.

Commercial Retail/Office

Commercial space and particularly the office, hospitality and recreation segments of the market were hit, hardest by the Covid pandemic. Government operating restrictions and forced closures made it “living hell” for most businesses. The pandemic impacted how, where, and when people live, work and shop enabled by the adoption of digital business models.


People with office-based employment started working from home and while there has been a movement back to the office, there is likely to be permanency in work-place models with flexible working arrangements. Midsized sized communities like Sarnia-Lambton may continue to benefit from this enabling employees’ access to more affordable housing. While many people have enjoyed working from home and want a continuation, others have felt isolated and are eager to work in the same space as their colleagues. Factors impacting models will be based upon ones’ organizational purpose, local talent pool and levels of technology skill sets, number of employees in an office, company culture and office space configuration and setup. Larger centers like London and Toronto have experienced large vacancies in their cores. Sarnia-Lambton’s office space is much smaller and widely dispersed not having as great an impact on the core. Though, there is more space available for lease and pricing is softer.


Retail sales nationally were the lowest in two decades in 2020 but began to rebound in 2021. Locally, retail/hospitality has been more resilient than expected but faced the greatest challenges. Particularly restaurants and gyms. Government mandated closures and limited capacity restrictions created volatile to no cash flow. Many businesses responded with on-line ordering, drive through/curbside pickups and outdoor patios. Some gyms ran limited outdoor and on-line exercise programs. Hotels and motels suffered from less guests due to travel and just local folks enjoying their dining facilities. Locally there were business closures but its difficult to determine how many and which ones were the result of pandemic or were in trouble before Covid. CERB helped businesses but did not make up for lost revenue. Employee recruitment, rising food and energy costs and bringing customers back are key challenges moving forward. However, people are anxious for a return to normal which includes dining out, travel and going to the gym.

Other types of retailers faced product shortages due to supply chain issues, several national brands and some local firms filed for bankruptcy. Retailers providing home improvements, grocery, personal and health care, and that sold on-line fared best. As government restrictions subside and high vaccination rates are achieved, 2022 is expected to see stabilization and improving revenue growth.

Cap rates for commercial are in the 6.25 to 8.50 % range depending on the retail/office type and location.

Commercial Leasing 2021 2020
Number of Closed Property Transactions 73 22
Median Asking Lease Price $13.00 $12.14
Median Number of Days on Market 84 235
Total Space Leased Office/Retail 121,893 sq. ft 44,167 sq. ft


Industrial Leasing 2021 2020
Number of Closed Property Transactions 27 6
Median Asking Lease Price $10.00 $10.50
Median Days on Market 63 102
Total Space Leased 48,865 sq. ft 12,085 sq. ft


Commercial Sales 2021 2020
Number of Closed Property Transactions 44 37
Median Sold Price $292,500 $450,000
Max Sold Price $1,700,000 $2,500,000
Median Price per sq. ft $92.85 $120.00
Median Days on Market 65 65
Total Dollar Volume of Transactions $21,934,399 $22,067,288


Industrial Sales 2021 2020
Number of Closed Property Transactions 11 7
Median Sold Price $970,000 $250,000
Median Price per Sq. Ft. $92.00 $72.92
Median Days on Market 56
Total Dollar Volume of Transactions $10,165,999 $2,730,000


Industrial/Commercial Land Sales 2021 2020
Number of Closed Property Transactions 7 7
Median Sold Price $255,000 $39,900
Median Days on Market 25 182
Total Dollar Volume of Transactions $5,807,000 $808,400


Notable Industrial Tractions 2021-2020

4480 Progress Drive, Petrolia 60,000 sq. ft, $2,730,000

461 Scott Street, Sarnia 15,200 sq. ft, $1,075,000

440 McGregor Side Road, Sarnia, 14,400 sq. ft, $1,050,000

Notable Commercial Transactions 2021-2020

1 Ontario Street Grand Bend, Colonial Hotel, $2,500,000

5 Main Street Grand Bend, Gables Night Club $2,200,000

Translate »