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What $1 million used to buy in Toronto

The average price of a detached home has hit the magic $1 million number. That used to buy you a mansion, back in the day.

Susan Pigg – Toronto Star

The average price of a detached home in Toronto just passed the $1 million mark in February. Here’s what $1 million used to buy in the city:

186 St. Leonard’s Avenue
Year sold: 1996 (first year for which TREB kept electronic MLS records)
Sold price: $1 million
List price: $1.099 million
Taxes: $8,623.74 (as of 1995)
This was back in the day when you could tell someone had lots of money because there were so few pricey pockets of the city where they could spend it on a showcase home, such as this prime Bridle Path-Sunnybrook-York Mills real estate district. On tree-lined, 50 by 150-foot lots that felt more suburban than city. A million bucks back then got you five-plus bedrooms, moulded ceilings, wainscotting and a finely appointed kitchen, complete with Jennair stove and cooktop, all on a tree-lined, 50 by 150-foot lot. This house was razed in 2003 — the lot alone is now worth well over $1 million — to make way for a grand stone-fronted new home, now likely worth four times as much.

Comment: There are records back to 1986, when 4 houses on the same street sold for $500,000-565,000. There is no record of 186 St. Leonards selling on MLS in 1996. Not sure where this info comes from… In that year, there were 3 sales, for $500,000, $810,000 and $980,000. Recent sales vary just as widely, from $1,840,000 up to $4,075,000.

St Leonards Avenue
137 Craighurst Avenue
Year sold: 2004
Sold price: $1.01 million
List Price: $879,900
Taxes: (had yet to be set)
The landscaping wasn’t even finished when this “stunning new custom built home” went up for sale among its pleasant neighbours, just “steps from trendy Yonge St.” in the Lawrence Park South area. It commanded a hefty premium: The two-storey house that was razed to make way for this suburban-style house within an easy commute of the core sold for just $415,000 in 2002. On this 31 by 134-foot lot, the builder managed to pack in four bedrooms, a finished rec room with walkout to the backyard, three fireplaces and a gourmet kitchen with a granite island, as well as a two-car garage.

Comment: But the original was being sold as a tear-down, it wasn’t fit to live in. So for $600,000 more, you got a brand new house. Not really a bad deal… Plus 2 years of price appreciation. And, oddly enough, there are still a lot of sub-$1-million houses on that street. Median sold price last year was $992,500.

106 Wembley Road
Year sold: 2009
Sold price: $1 million
List Price: $1.099 million
Taxes: $7,191.08 (as of 2008)
This four-bedroom Tudor came on the market right as sales were still plummeting and fearful buyers were taking a breather in the midst of the Great Recession and the devastating meltdown of the U.S. housing market. It looks like such an incredible bargain now, given its location on a quiet, dead-end street, not far from the Eglinton West subway station and the on ramp to the Allen Expressway. This elegant house featured all the elements, just on a smaller scale, of some of Forest Hill’s grand homes: a den with built-in bookcases, leaded-glass windows, crown moldings, “an abundance of wood” and even an alarm system, all on a beautifully landscaped 50 by 125 foot lot.

Comment: Sales took a brief 3-month tumble at the end of 2008 and start of 2009, there were a lot of deals in that time. I know I had two clients who made out like bandits at that time. This one is not a fair comparison, based on it being sold during a strange, short period of time. In the years following, comparable houses were selling in the $1.11-1.56m range. This one was a steal at that time.

Craighurst Avenue
166 Byng Avenue
Year sold: 2012
Sold price: $1 million
List Price: $898,000
Taxes: $4,107.33 (as of 2011)
It’s not that big, it’s lacking in curb appeal and, in fact, it’s not even there anymore. This Byng Ave. home in the Yonge St. and Finch Ave. area of Toronto’s northly reaches, Willowdale, is what’s known in this land-starved city as “the million-dollar teardown.” (A year later the property appears to have changed hands, again, for almost $1.3 million.) The grand, stone-faced mega-home now under construction in its place — the address 166 Byng is beautifully chiseled into the new façade — is likely to go for at least twice as much when completed, further driving values out of reach in what used to be an affordable pocket of the city close to the subway line.

Comment: Again, that $1.3-million sale is not MLS, not sure where that is coming from. It has been a LONG time since Yonge & Finch was affordable. Back in 2005, houses averaged $661,752 in the area, as compared to $335,907 across the city. In 2010, the average was $930,939 vs. the city average of $431,276. When was this area ever “affordable”?

725 Dupont Street
Year sold: 2014
Sold price: $1 million
List Price: $849,900
Taxes: $1,623.91 (MLS may just include partial tax bill for 2014)
Call it the million-dollar house with the millionaire’s view: This tiny, 1,200 square foot house, which features two separate apartments, looks directly into the giant showroom windows of the Rolls Royce/Bentley/Aston-Martin/Land Rover dealership right across busy Dupont St. It’s in an up-and-coming area, especially for first-time buyers, known as Dovercourt-Wallace Emerson-Junction. And while this nondescript place may appear to be among the best evidence yet that Toronto’s real estate market is truly out of whack, what makes this property so valuable, says listing realtor Marty Roth, is that the owner can live in the beautifully renovated coach house in the backyard and rent out the house in front. That two-for-one deal, on a mere 20 by 148 foot lot, a “fabulous investment opportunity” that drew multiple bids.

Comment: I don’t know where you live, but 1,200 square feet is not tiny. It is not large, but it is not unusual for Toronto houses. This is a detached house, which adds a lot of value, as it is not tied to another home. It can be torn down and rebuilt. It has a whole other house in the back, the coach house. That is worth a fair bit. And the house is divided into a duplex. Renovated, not too far from 2 different subway station. How does that make anything out of whack? And the lot is 148 feet deep, that is pretty big by Toronto standards, not “mere” by any stretch. Live in the coach house and rent the main house out for $3,000/month… yeah, that is a terrible deal.

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

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent 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.


What $1 million used to buy in Toronto
Article Name
What $1 million used to buy in Toronto
The average price of a detached home in Toronto just passed the $1 million mark in February. Here's what $1 million used to buy in the city over the past 20-odd years.

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