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Toronto Loft Conversions

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Unique Toronto Homes

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Condos in Toronto

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Toronto Real Estate

Toronto Real Estate

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Tag Archives: playgrounds

Buying a home: Where to go in TO

Carolyn Ireland – The Globe and Mail

Last week Darrell Haber of San Francisco asked for help in finding an under-valued neighbourhood in Toronto. He’s moving to the city and would like to buy property in an up-and-coming area that may appreciate over three to five years.

I made a few suggestions and then threw the question out to readers, who tackled the topic with gusto. Professor Richard Harris at McMaster University’s School of Geography and Earth Sciences already had his students working on a similar question and he will forward some of the best responses.

Meanwhile, I also asked Mr. Haber to provide some more details so that we can better steer him toward a neighbourhood that suits his life. I know, however, that thousands of people in Toronto are wondering the very same thing so perhaps our crowd sourcing will inspire others.

Turns out, that it’s romance – not work – bringing Mr. Haber to Toronto. He’s moving to be closer to his girlfriend, Jackelyn Ho. The pair would like to be in a neighbourhood of young professionals. They don’t care to be surrounded by kids so neighbourhoods with good schools and playgrounds hold no appeal.

In his price range of $350,000 to $400,000, Mr. Haber knows he’s most likely going to buy a condo. He’d prefer a unit with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and parking.

Comment: Try Regent Park, so many great places there – and holy improving neighbourhood. And the new buildings around the Gladstone Hotel, also very affordable and in a great neighbourhood.

“I like the idea of condo living in Toronto but I don’t need all the extras. Anything more than a gym is too much and adds fees.”

As an aside, I also wondered how Toronto’s real estate values appear compared with San Francisco’s. Mr. Haber says that condos in San Francisco are typically larger old homes that have been split into flats. They often have two or three bedrooms in buildings not higher than three stories. These units tend to start at $1.5-million (U.S.) and rise from there. They are also not downtown but in surrounding neighbourhoods such as the Avenues, the Mission District and the Marina District.

“In some cases, it can still take up to an hour to get to downtown from these locations,” he says.

Mr. Haber says that five (five!) or so condo developments have gone up in downtown San Francisco in the past few years. These newer developments tend to be very, very pricey, he adds, with a one bedroom on a lower floor selling for about $800,000. Anything larger or with selling features such as a nice view will fetch more than $1.2-million, but can easily go as high as $4-million.

All of which is to say that Toronto prices do seem reasonable in comparison. But Mr. Haber says that salaries in San Francisco are also more in line with the higher real estate prices.

“I suspect you could consider that there is a one-time bonus for moving your money from San Francisco to Toronto, but that’s about it.”

Mr. Haber has done a lot of reading on the forecasts for Toronto’s condo market. He knows he’s coming into the market close to what could turn out to be its height. That’s part of his strategy in looking for an area that could improve in value with the help of better transit or new businesses.

Comment: Say what? If it were at its height, that would indicate that prices will fall and never rise higher than they are now. That is ridiculous. Price gains may slow, but condos will be worth more 10 years from now then they are now. Most of them, at least, barring those with $1,000 maintenance fees. Buy smart and you will see additional value in 3-5 years.

One reader echoed my suggestion of Eglinton West. She and her husband are young professionals who bought in the area in 2012. She says they got a great deal on their house and it’s still possible to find one for less than $450,000. Bidding wars are less common than in more trendy locations, she added. She likes the friendly neighbours, the nearby Beltline and the eclecticism of the area, but also believes its ripe for revitalization.

Comment: Sure, for a tiny 2-bedroom bungalow with oil heat that needs $100k in renos. Try the lofts on Roselawn or Hopewell.

Another reader from “uber-trendy Leslieville” points to more affordable St. Clair and Caledonia in the city’s west end, where some young cousins recently purchased a house. The reader says the light rapid transit line has improved access to the area and lots of new townhouses are under construction.

Comment: And if you can find anything under $400k, it will be a tear-down or gut job. I have seen some of the “cheap” houses around there… yikes… But there are surprisingly affordable condos in The Beaches.

I also floated Little India as a possibility, prompting a reader to suggest continuing a little farther east. The area bordered by Woodbine Avenue, Victoria Park, Kingston Road and Gerrard Street East – sometimes known as the Upper Beaches – is a pleasant pocket, the reader says. New shops are appearing along Kingston Road all the time.

Comment: And there is NOTHING there for under $400k. Not houses, at least. And very very little in terms of condos. Try the North Beach Lofts at 601 Kingston Road, great deals and some nice views on the south side.

A real estate agent who specializes in the east end recommends the slice of East York known as Woodbine-Lumsden to first-time buyers and investors. It’s close to the Bloor-Danforth subway line, she points out, and younger people moving into the area are creating demand for new bistros and cafés.

Comment: And there is ONE single house there for $429,900. Doesn’t not help our guy with a cap of $400k.

Also to the east is Highland Creek. The reader who suggested it points out that it will be home to the pool and sports complex currently under construction for the Pan American Games. Cyclists can follow the bike paths all the way to Lake Ontario. The Metro Toronto Zoo and Rouge National Park are just to the north. The detached houses on 50-foot lots may not suit Mr. Haber, but for people with kids it has a lot going for it.

Comment: Yes, some great options around there. But I am not sure our friend from down south wants to live that far out. He did say he was open to condos… why is everyone suggesting houses? And is anyone going to explain that Highland Creek is not a nice neighbourhood? Just down the street from the worst mass shooting in Toronto history? He might get on with the Galloway Boys, but I doubt it.

On the other side of town, someone suggested the Junction – as long as Mr. Haber doesn’t pay too much, because the area is still developing. Given that we now know about his preference to be in a condo without amenities and kids in the neighbourhood, this area could work well. The developments here tend to be smaller and there’s very cool nightlife for childless couples.

Comment: There are about 2 condos in the neighbourhood. Pricing is good and the area is starting to gentrify, meaning prices are not too bad and the future is bright. The first decent suggestion yet. But the condos on Heintzman are VERY affordable and pretty decent.

A reader from Hamilton suggests that Mr. Haber forget about Toronto and head to that city, which has affordable real estate and more authentic funk than people realize.

Comment: Except that he said he wanted to move to Toronto. Might as well suggest Brighton, where houses are even cheaper. And just as far away.

Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto Realtor with Century 21 Regal Realty. He did not
write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who are
interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.