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Tag Archives: row house

Where first-time homebuyers are finding bargains

Tracy Hanes – Toronto Star

For several years, Tanya Davio, 29, lived with her parents in Pickering, saving a down payment towards a home of her own. But when she decided to take the plunge earlier this year, there was a problem.

“I would ask to see a house the day it came on the market, then wouldn’t even get a chance to look at it because it would sell within a day,” she says.

That doesn’t surprise Shaun Hildebrand, a senior analyst with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. He says Pickering had a high%age of first-time home buyers in 2009.

The very hottest areas for first-timers — with prices below the GTA average of $440,000 ($477,000 in the city; $408,000 in the 905 area) — were southwest and east Scarborough, downtown Toronto, Bayview Village, south Etobicoke, Milton, Willowdale West and Newmarket.

According to Jason Mercer, an analyst with the Toronto Real Estate Board, sales were brisk throughout the GTA in the first quarter of this year, as the economy picked up steam and there was pent-up demand, coupled with a shortage of listings. He expects conditions will moderate later this year, as the market becomes more balanced and more listings come on stream.

The east end of the GTA is where the cheapest prices can be found, although Hildebrand says buyers tend to buy closer to Toronto when interest rates are low, then move farther afield as affordability becomes an issue. Oshawa is the most affordable market in the GTA, with an average sale price of $255,808 in March, according to TREB figures.

Although Davio works downtown for the LCBO, she wanted to be close to her family and her horse, stabled just north of Pickering. But she eventually widened her search to next-door Ajax and found a two-year-old, 1,800-square-foot condominium townhouse with a garage and balcony.

The average March price for a condo townhouse in Ajax was $235,789. But Davio says some reasonably priced condos come with steep maintenance fees. Her condo fees are just $150 a month.

She had her mortgage financing pre-approved, which turned out to be a savvy move when she placed her offer. Another potential buyer’s offer was higher, but Davio’s was accepted because there were no conditions on the financing.

Within the City of Toronto, neighbourhoods that have long proven to be hot such as the Beach, High Park and Bloor West Village remain so, says Toronto Real Estate Board president Tom Lebour. But the problem is that home prices start in the mid $400,000s for a modest semi or row house.

The luxury market has just started to rebound, says Hildebrand, with perennially popular areas such as High Park, Rosedale and Forest Hill remaining most desirable. But you’ll need at least half a million dollars to buy there.

“It’s more important to be able to spot emerging neighbourhoods, and there are two in particular up and coming,” he advises. “One is W6, Mimico and Long Branch. For years, it was considered a working class area, but no more. It has been gentrified and young buyers are recognizing the beauty of it. It’s close to the lake and hasn’t really caught on but is starting to.”

He notes that for the average GTA home price of $440,000, you can get a substantial entry-level home in Mimico, and you’re surrounded by high-end areas such as Bloor West Village and the Kingsway.

“There are condos along the water, townhouses and fixer-upper detached homes,” agrees Hildebrand, who also considers Mimico an area with good potential.

The second neighbourhood Lebour cites is a little pocket north of the Danforth between the Don Valley Parkway and Scarborough.

“It has some affordable homes and it’s close to the subway. More and more couples are looking for access to public transit so they don’t have to maintain a vehicle,” he says.

Downtown is a hot market, but Lebour says first-timers may have to settle for minuscule condo suites to keep within their budgets. CityPlace, the neighbourhood near the Rogers Centre, is popular with people who don’t own cars.

Other established “vertical cities” include the Distillery District and Liberty Village, as well as the King West district for more affluent buyers.

Lebour says Etobicoke offers good buys in condos, with more space for the money, and downtown is just a 20-minute ride from the Kipling subway station.


Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information  –  416-388-1960