Welcome to our October 2017 Home of the Month! This feature provides a snapshot of what urbaneer.com’s Buyers have recently purchased in the City of Toronto.
This month we share the tale of clients who were seeking a downtown Toronto dwelling that offered them access to the best of urban living. Splitting their time between Toronto and their residence in the United States, they sought an easy-care property that wouldn’t require too much maintenance. Although they initially expressed interest in purchasing a generous condominium, there were a few must-haves that were otherwise deal-breakers. The first was that the building must be pet-friendly. The second was that the building allow the suite to be rented for periods of around six months when they were spending time out of country. The third need was enough outdoor space for seating and a barbecue.
Surprisingly, for a city with so many condos and townhomes, finding one which accommodated all three requirements were in limited supply. For one, only about half of the condominiums in the city allow pets, often with restrictions. The number of condominiums which allow short term rentals is even more limited, which I would estimate to be around twenty percent; most condo by-laws stipulate units must be leased for a minimum of one year. And then finding a complex within that already diminished pool that allows barbecues? Even more challenging. I figure about ten percent of condos allow barbecues on private outdoor space. Why? Fire codes often restrict the capacity for barbecues unless a provision has been included in the original development application (like incorporating gas lines into outdoor space as propane tanks traveling up and down elevators are prohibited). Although there were a handful of opportunities (as in, six to eight listings) which presented themselves during our year-long search, as we monitored the rise of resistance to platforms like Airbnb in condominiums, the concern was that even if we found a condominium which permitted short term rentals, the building could revise its bylaws and restrict it at a later date. And given the high common fees that can accompany a luxury condominum with a terrace, our clients expressed resistance to the idea of leaving a costly space vacant when they weren’t in town. I shared that sentiment. This prompted our buyers to focus on the freehold housing market.
Now, for any one who has explored the availability of turn-key downtown properties, you know finding a freehold property that doesn’t require some capital investment or upgrading is near impossible. Our city-centre housing stock is generally one hundred + years old – more or less – which means finding the right place that marries space, condition and location can be challenging. In fact, the majority of our original city dwellings are either solid brick or frame construction, limited to modest 2- and 3-storey row, semi or detached types, and historically narrow, dark and cramped. Regardless of their form and shape, these properties have participated in property evolution since their inception and initial construction. Some were modified to reflect the cultural personality of the residents, others converted from massive single family dwellings into income properties, and even back again. Others have been modernized, topped up or expanded to suit the needs of changing households. These changes have typically occurred piecemeal over time to reflect the needs, wants, and wishes of each occupant. As a result, our city streetscapes bear the stamp of 100 years of styles and fashions in architecture; some of it pretty, some of it not.
When a property surpasses its 100 year old anniversary, it is generally deteriorated and at times, dilapidated. Sometimes these properties are so far gone, that there is not an economic case to salvage them. Unfortunately, a lot of Toronto buildings are now reaching the end of their life span, in particular in former working class neighbourhoods where properties weren’t constructed with the same level of craftsmanship and expense as homes for the merchant class and wealthy elite. Also, in the original City of Toronto, which by and large has been an immigrant reception centre filled with optimism, hope, and a lower price tag, these properties have now reached the twilight years of their life span. They have a lean or a slope, a cracked foundation or dry rot. They may have suffered water or termite damage, or are just too small or “chopped up” for the lifestyle needs of a buyer.
However, the location remains very sought-after, which means that there are compelling reasons to replace it with a structure having a higher and better use. Sometimes it’s a bigger house, or in other instances properties are assembled into development sites for townhouses or even mid/high rises. As the demand for downtown living grows faster than the supply, and as buyers remain less interested in renovating than in financing a turn key purchase, the city has now burst into a ‘new build’ frenzied frontier in a bid to replace old, decaying housing.
In this instance, our Buyers wanted to buy somewhere in Midtown – south of St. Clair – or on the central west side like The Annex or Little Italy. These locales would all allow three things this couple desired: an easy commute to a favourite golf course, access to an off-leash dog park just a stroll away, and the ability to walk or bike to all the neccesary amenities of an urban village neighbourhood.
When this townhouse first came to market, our Buyers were already familiar with the complex; Urbaneer had sold their close friends a similar unit in the complex just 18 months earlier. Having stayed as guest in their friend’s unit, they were aware of how well-proportioned and well-finished the property was. (In fact, one of the Buyers had told me she was amazed at how quiet the interior was, where none of the floors creaked and sound didn’t transmit between levels like their Victorian!) And it’s location – just north of College Street near Shaw Street – was Triple AAA, given its proximity to Little Italy’s five star restaurants, myriad of daily shopping amenities, and lush Trinity Bellwoods Park. It’s a location which hits all the nails on the head for those seeking an engaging urban life that’s not too trendy, but still close to the action.
Aptly named Block, the townhouse was one of “37 stunning marvels of modern architecture” whose angles informed it’s name. Completed by Treasure Hill Developments in 2013 and encompassing over 3,000 square feet of contemporary living space each, the units were designed by acclaimed architect Richard Wengle, with interiors by award-winning interior designers Cecconi Simone. Having three bedrooms and three baths, plus a self-contained one bed, one bath suite, this crisp and clean-lined townhouse demonstrated great attention to detail. Featuring soaring ceilings, over-sized windows, and a great space plan (including a sumptuous third floor master suite with 5-piece spa bath and 2 custom walk-in closets), the property had all the bells and whistles urban buyers look for, including a professionally landscaped courtyard garden and oversized laneway garage. it was immaculate in execution and presentation.
Although it wasn’t on the wish list, this residence’s income suite certainly appealed. If you’re buying a freehold property but intend to be a snowbird, then having an optional resident in your property to ‘keep an eye on things’ can serve you well. First, there’s the matter of insurance. Insurers often require someone check on a vacant property consistently in order to keep a policy valid. If you don’t and the water pipes freeze, then your coverage could be null and void. Another benefit is having a tenant present to do general operational tasks, like take out the garbage and recycling, water the lawn or shovel the sidewalk of snow. Not only does a tenant keep a property appearing occupied, one can offer the tenant a monthly fee to attend to these matters (which you can write off against the income). Imagine the benefit of having a resident caretaker who pays you a monthly rent that covers your property taxes and utilities. Who wouldn’t consider this a ‘win-win’?! And while these clients are currently using the entire house for their own personal use, the self-contained lower level offers it’s own private space for visiting family and friends (and perhaps income in the future!)
Here’s some snaps of this stunning modern beauty:
Congratulations to our Buyers, who successfully secured this urban oasis for $1000 over its $1,999,000 list price.
Are you familiar with Little Italy? Here’s Little Italy Neighbourhood Page, complete with amenities, a flavour video (below), and community stats of this choice neighbourhood. Check out our other Neighbourhood Pages to explore many more of Toronto’s desirable neighbourhoods!
Are you considering downscaling into an urban dwell? Here’s two of our past Home Of The Month features that share the tale of securing the right turn-key home
May 2017 – Home of the Month – Ramsden Park Near Yorkville
March 2016 – Home of the Month – Midtown
Or check out these posts offering insights on our changing market
How Demographics Affect Toronto Real Estate
The Renovation Dilemma + The Zoomer Home
Serving first, second and multi-time buyers, young families, down-scaling Zoomers, renovators and those building their investment property portfolios, our mandate is to help our clients strategically secure the best real estate on offer, while ensuring their purchase best serves their practical needs and their dream of ‘Home’. We identify a property’s best qualities, features and insouciant charm in the context of the future target market while meeting your own wishes, wants and desires.
If you, or someone you love, has specific real estate needs, wishes and desires, and would enjoy the personalized service of someone Celebrating Twenty-Five Years As A Top-Producing Toronto Realtor who subscribes to a pressure-free approach – and a specialty in unique urban homes – please know my team and I are here to help!
Steven Fudge & The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage – (416) 322-8000
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Buy Of The Month