Welcome to urbaneer.com's May 2016 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 some Zoomer clients - a pair on the tail end of the Baby Boom cohort (which spans the years 1946-1964) - who decided it was time to pro-actively sell their family home in Lawrence Park and move downtown to have a more active engaging urban life. Now, this isn't a new phenomenon, but it's certainly growing as values soar and this cohort mature. As well-established professional couples see their children heading off to university, they're electing to ditch the big house and yard in coveted school districts and instead shift into the next chapter of their lives. One of the reasons? With the real estate market cresting with top dollar values, many of these Buyers are cashing out with the aim of buying something smaller and more urban and, in the process, eliminate any debt.
So what are Zoomers seeking?
Down-scaling Zoomers look for easy-care, turn-key, lock-up-and-go housing suitable for their retirement years. Surprisingly, for a city with so many condos and townhomes, those which are appropriate for Zoomers are in limited supply. This is mostly because, for the past decade, developers have catered principally to the first time buyer and investor markets, which is why there are all those ubiquitous one bedroom CrackerJack boxes perched in the sky. And a lot of the freehold housing downtown often lack the square footage preferred by this market who still want some space. In our opinion, a lot of developers have missed the opportunity to fully meet the needs of the Zoomer market who are frequently ready-to-buy cash buyers.
What's often the case with these Buyers is that, while they know it's only a matter of time until their kids officially leave 'the nest', these parents still want to have space to accommodate their children in the event it's necessary. So when they're seeking urban spaces, the list most always includes three bedrooms - or two bedrooms and a den - and, if possible, even a space that has a potential income supplement to fit either their child or some income to offset the operating expenses.
Having an income suite also offers another benefit. If you're buying a freehold property but intend to be a snowbird, then having a resident in your property to 'keep an eye on things' is always a benefit. 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'?
When I first met our Buyers, I cautioned them it takes most Zoomers six months to a year to find the right property? Why? Having lived in their family home for some years and accustomed to generous square footages, finding the right place that marries space, condition and location can be challenging. In this instance, our Buyers wanted something in the central west side of the City where they could ride their bikes - whether that be to work, the market or cultural activities - while living an urban village life. And why not? After focusing their attention on the needs of their children, this next chapter presents an opportunity to 'live a little'. Who doesn't want to stroll to a five star restaurant in the neighbourhood and walk home a little tipsy?
Looking around South Annex, Little Italy, Trinity Bellwoods, and Little Portugal, our Buyers identified a preference for a townhouse with street access rather than a condominium with an elevator. Being young Zoomers, our Buyers weren't seeking a residence that offered concierge services and one-level living (here's an example of a desirable 2 bed Zoomer approved condo in our March 2016 - Home of the Month - Midtown post that fits that bill) but a space which was more fresh, contemporary, and geared to entertaining.
During our six month search, there were only a handful of properties worth considering. The majority were newer townhouses, having three stories and a contemporary aesthetic, sitting on a common-owned condominium garage. They were, for the most part, too small, too narrow or too urban (one was located on a laneway next to a mid-rise condominium's garbage dumpster) to suit our Buyers. And, while being part of a collective condominium community can have its benefits, our Buyers felt it would be more strategic to purchase something that was freehold. Why? The condominium market is not escalating in value at the same rate as the freehold market, even when it's a condominium townhouse. Strategically, our Buyers wanted to keep their feet in the freehold housing market.
As our search progressed, our Buyers - exasperated over the lack of decent product - considered renovating an older place to make it their own. We looked at a number of vintage houses in the South Annex and Little Portugal which had seen better days, and even an old factory loft in Kensington Market that had loads of space (but next to a restaurant where the vent spewed greasy fumes). We also viewed some renovated product, which was often mediocre in its attention to detail or a bit too chopped up. Intuitively, we felt a modern freehold townhouse would be the best option, but finding the 'right one' would take time.
When this townhouse first came to market, our Buyers expressed hesitation as the MLS listing didn't fully convey how well-proportioned and well-finished the property was. However, being familiar not only with the development - but the owners of this specific unit (who have an excellent design eye and commitment to detail) - we nudged them to take a look. First, it's location just north of College Street on Shaw Street was Triple AAA. Located steps to College Street with its five star restaurants, daily shopping amenities and a block from Trinity Bellwoods Park, the location hits all the nails for those seeking an engaging urban life that's not too overly trendy but close to the action. Second, the complex was thoughtfully designed and well-executed. Called 'Block', the townhouse was one of "37 stunning marvels of modern architecture". Having near 3,500 square feet of contemporary living the unit, designed by acclaimed architect Richard Wengle with interiors by award-winning interior designers Cecconi Simone, was completed by Treasure Hill Developments in 2013.
Having three bedrooms and three baths, plus a self-contained one bedroom one bath suite renting for $1450 per month, this crisp clean-lined townhouse had been upgraded with great attention to detail. Featuring soaring ceilings, over-sized windows, and a great space plan (including a sumptuous third floor master suite with spa bath and massive custom walk-in closet), the property had all the bells and whistles including upgraded sound separation blankets, computer automated Lutron lighting, Sonos sound and heating/cooling systems, plus a professionally landscaped courtyard garden and oversized laneway garage. Immaculate in execution and presentation, the property also had the benefit of a Tarion New Home Warranty.
Here's some snaps of this stunning modern beauty:
Listed for $1,525,000, our Buyers secured this property for 98% of the asking price with a long closing, which gave them sufficient time to prepare their house for sale and sell it in the Spring Market.
A special thanks and congratulations to our Buyers!
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. And although searching for the right property can be an intense and sometimes lengthy process it is, without fail, rewarding both to our clients and the urbaneer team.
If you, or someone you love, has specific real estate needs, wishes and desires, and would enjoy the personalized service of Top Producing boutique Toronto real estate outfit who subscribe to a pressure-free approach - and a specialty in unique urban homes - please know we're here to help at urbaneer.com.
~ Steven and the urbaneer team
earn your trust, then your business
Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage - (416) 322-8000
Like what you've read? if you're house-hunting - or just curious to see where values are landing in the City of Toronto, here's Toronto’s Best Houses and Condos of 2015 by Urbaneer which showcases 12 properties our clients purchased this past year! Want to learn more? Consider signing up in the box below to receive our FREE monthly newsletter on housing, culture and design in the City of Toronto. We simply love Toronto real estate!
** Did you also know Steve leads a Student Mentorship and Internship Program for Canadians being educated in the field of housing? Consider visiting our sister site called Houseporn.ca