If I had a million dollars, I would buy you a… tiny one bedroom condo? Fixer-upper that needed extensive repairs to be habitable? Suburban home an hour and a half from work?
The old Barenaked Ladies song talks about purchasing a house with that sum, but in Toronto, it hasn’t come close to cutting it for a while, with an average price for all homes and condos of $1.33 million in February, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB).
The city’s red hot housing market has lost a little of its frenzy over the past few months. But for the anxious would-be homeowner sitting on the sidelines, how does that translate? What’s out there in the city core for at or about $1 million now vs. at the height of the market this past winter?
A million dollars is still a huge price tag that’s out of reach for many. But there are some surprising changes in a suddenly unpredictable market, from some properties going for under asking to move-in ready semis selling without bidding wars.
The Star scoured listings and talked to realtors to get a snapshot:
At or under $1 million then (February/March)
At the height of the market this past winter it was tough to find even a semi-detached or row house for under a million that was move-in ready, let alone a detached home, in urban Toronto, said Ara Mamourian, broker and managing partner of The Spring Team Real Estate.
This three-bedroom two-bath semi in Corso Italia-Davenport, which sold for $940,000, for example, needed a bit of TLC. Although in a relatively central location, the kitchen, flooring, and appliances appeared outdated. It went for under asking — the listing price was $989,000 — but the buyer most likely had to factor in the cost of renovations.
“In the first quarter of this year, specifically January, February, and most of March, if you had a budget of up to a million dollars you really couldn’t find a house that was turnkey, and livable as is, it seemed like that up to a million price point was reserved for those homes that needed substantial renovations,” Mamourian said.
This three-bedroom townhouse also needed a bit of updating. It’s much less central and out of the city core. Still, it got over $100,000 over asking back in February, coming in at $908,000
This three-bedroom Caledonia-Fairbank listing is technically a “detached house” at under $1 million — it went for $830,000 in March. But the listing makes it clear that the “huge potential” is more in the 26 x 142 feet lot — walking distance to the not yet finished Eglinton Crosstown. And there aren’t even any pictures of the inside, a signal that it may be more of a teardown than a home.
“If you have a budget of under a million dollars a detached home in the general city of Toronto, especially in the more popular communities–that hasn’t been a thing for a number of years,” said Mamourian.
It was of course easier to find condos under $1 million back in February, like this 800-899 square feet 1+1 bedroom, two bath in Moss Park that went for $995,000.
Further out from the centre, there were a few bigger condos available, like this two-bedroom in Willowdale that sold for exactly $1 million in February.
At or under $1 million now
In general, it’s easier to find a semi or row house just outside the downtown core in relatively central urban neighbourhoods like the Beaches or Roncesvalles that’s move in ready now, said Mamourian. This three-bedroom High Park North semi, that was listed for $999,000 and got $970,000 about two weeks ago, is just one example.
“There’s been a bit of an adjustment,” Mamourian said. Homes that were maybe not even newly updated but safe, livable and in the urban neighbourhoods of Toronto, were going for up to $1.1 to $1.2 million in January, February, and early March. “Now you’re getting those homes at up to $1 million,” he said.
According to TRREB’s most recent stats, the average price for homes and condos was $1.08 million in August. That’s up slightly from July’s average price of $1.07, but down from February’s $1.33 million.
On the other end of the city, this charming newly-renovated Danforth semi, with a modern kitchen and back deck, is another find. It recently went for under asking at $980,000.
“If you were a buyer that was super discouraged in the first quarter of this year and you stopped looking, if you still have the budget, and your finances are still the same, I would suggest to get back out there because you’d be surprised at what you can find now that was not accessible to you then,” Mamourian said.
Andrew Harrild, co-founder, and broker of Condos.ca., said he’s seen this price drop trend even in “prime triple A neighbourhoods” such as Leslieville.
“You’re seeing it everywhere, it might be more in some neighbourhoods and less in others, but there are certainly more options available to buyers right now and I think it’s going to continue,” he said.
But Mamourian noted rising interest rates mean people are paying more for mortgages over time even if they can now put less of a down payment on a property with a lower price tag. In this uncertain market, he’s seen many sellers pull their properties off the market if they don’t need to sell immediately, which means less listings to choose from.
In terms of detached homes within Toronto, they’re still harder to find, said Mamourian. This Keelesdale-Eglinton West bungalow went for $824,000. The neighbourhood is an interesting one, Mamourian explained. “There are some better opportunities there, because that area hasn’t modernized or grown to the point where it supports some of the values” from January and February, he said.
This 500-599 square foot one bedroom is conveniently located in the heart of downtown. It went for $25,000 under asking, and well under $1 million, at $704,000 earlier this month. That’s less than the other Moss Park condo fetched in February, but that one was a little bigger. Although there have been price drops across the board of around 10 per cent since February, condos are in general “holding up better,” said Harrild. They vary a lot by neighbourhood and even building by building.
“Some of your most desirable condos, loft buildings in the city, will always be in demand. If there was a listing that came up in the Candy Factory Lofts, well, there’s effectively a lineup to get into that building. If your listing is more generic, that’s where prices are softening,” he said.
“If you’re one of a dozen condos on the market, just like yours at the same time, well, how do you separate yourself from your competition? You’ve got to reduce your price, that’s how you do it.” In general, fewer listings were going for under asking in the winter, but some are still going for over asking now, such as units in desirable condo buildings.
This little Portugal two-bedroom two-bath, for example, went for $760,000 —about $35,000 over asking.
Condos have been less impacted by the price drops, said Mamourian, because they still have rental potential, given high rents.
But both he and Harrild agree, there’s more out there now for weary buyers.
A lot depends on what happens with interest rates and inflation, said Harrild. But both condos and homes are taking longer to sell now than they did in the winter.
“If you were looking to buy earlier in the year, you would more than likely find yourself in a blind multiple offer bidding war, which is not a great place to be, and that’s not happening now, so that alone is a big change,” he said.
“I think it will remain like that for the foreseeable future,” Harrild added. “I think the next six to nine months will represent the best period that we’ve seen for buyers in a long time, in terms of getting a foot in the market.”
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