The market for condo apartments remained strong in the Greater Toronto Area in the second quarter.

Greater Toronto Realtors reported 7,038 sales of condo apartments through the Toronto Real Estate Board’s MLS in the three months, up 3.2% compared to a year earlier.

New listings for the sector were down 3.5% year-over-year to 11,110; and the average price gained 5.1% to $589,887, although in the City of Toronto (70% of transactions) the gain was 5.9% to $639,316.

“As has generally been the case in the region since the implementation of the Ontario Government’s Fair Housing Plan in 2017, the condo market segment has remained tight in comparison to other major housing types. However, from a price point perspective, condo apartments continue to offer prospective buyers a relatively affordable housing option when looking across the GTA,” said TREB president Michael Collins.

Rental market also tight

In the rental market, average rents for one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments increased above the rate of inflation on a year-over-year basis in Q2 2019 as the market remained tight.

“However, we have seen an acceleration in the number of units listed for rent, which has provided renters with more choice in the market place and has coincided with a slower pace of average rent growth over the past year,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Chief Market Analyst.


When art director Cory Ingwersen started searching for a home in Toronto earlier this year, his hunt began in a slumping housing market.

Yet bidding war after bidding war, Ingwersen says he and his wife made multiple offers on several properties, only to be met by counter-bids that were 10 to 20 per cent more than the asking price – and more than they were willing to spend.

“We felt defeated,” Ingwersen, 32, said in an email interview.

Ingwersen isn’t alone in his home-buying experience, as some in the real estate industry say that bidding wars are now making a comeback in the city. And this is occurring despite the country’s largest housing market cooling considerably last year, as a result of officials tightening mortgage regulations, imposing taxes on foreign buyers and taking other measures aimed at curbing dizzying prices.

“We’re starting to see [bidding wars] happen,” said Toronto-based mortgage broker David Larock, in a July 11 interview with BNN Bloomberg. “The sky not falling and interest rates falling have combined to bring some enthusiasm back to the housing market.”

Toronto homes sales rose 10.4 per cent in June, compared to the same time last year, according to the latest Toronto Real Estate Board data. Meanwhile, the combination of rising sales and fewer active listings helped lift the average selling price three per cent to $832,703 from last June.

As for where bidding wars are popping up, real estate agent Ira Jelinek says he’s seeing them specifically in Toronto areas that have scarce supply or in central locations that are considered more affordable.

“Products outside of the core that are mispriced are sitting longer,” Jelinek said by email. “Inside the core, anything that is priced close to fair market value or a bit higher is selling quickly.”

After two months of serious hunting, Ingwersen says he and his wife finally landed on buying a historical row house in Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighbourhood. When Ingwersen’s realtor approached him and his wife with this particular property, it looked too good to be true, even though they started their search wanting a detached home, Ingwersen says.

“We were the first people to see the listing, and absolutely loved the house, which was by far the best listing we had seen to date,” Ingwersen said.

However, his realtor told him that the owner’s agent had neglected to properly strategize the listing, which opened the door for them to jump in. Ingwersen took a chance and submitted an offer immediately, but under the asking price.

After some back and forth, Ingwersen ended up snapping up the home at its listed price – and without having to enter the ring of a bidding war.

“Overall it was a very exciting process, but along the way we had extreme highs, and very low lows. It was a rollercoaster ride that had no end in sight,” Ingwersen said.

“We looked at over 60 houses in a very short timeline and what we quickly learned is that we had to compromise on the criteria we had begun our search with.”

Ingwersen notes that he was not surprised to find himself in the middle of bidding wars. He expected it because of warnings from his realtor, research he and his wife had consistently been doing on the Toronto market, and stories he heard from people close to him who had recently purchased properties.

“One friend lost out on three houses before being able to confirm an offer,” he said.

With bidding wars making a return, Larock says it’s important to do enough legwork long before offer night in order to prepare for the possibility of a battle.

He adds that buyers should determine how much they want to spend on a home, how much it will cost them to carry the property, the price they’re most comfortable with, and the maximum amount a lender will provide.

“You want to have a plan and an understanding going in before the emotion of the bidding takes place,” Larock said.

Urbanation released its Q2-2019 condo market results for the Greater Toronto Area this week. It was a robust quarter, following a slower Q1. Here are a few highlights:

– 8,902 condo units were sold across the GTA in Q2-2019. This is the second highest Q2 level on record after Q2-2017 (11,413 sales).

– The average price for all remaining (unsold) inventory in the GTA hit $1,000 psf for the first time ever, representing a 9% year-over-year increase.

– The region saw increased activity in the outskirts, including Hamilton, as a result of purchasers/investors looking for value buys.

– Only 6 projects launched for pre-sale in the former/old City of Toronto (the core). The average opening price was $1,284 psf.

– Average pricing for remaining units in the core is now $1,291 psf. This is the new standard for centrally located housing.

Garrett Dash Nelson recently published a study looking at urban density on a cell-by-cell basis for a number of US cities. Each “cell” is a 30 arc-second grid cell, but you can think of them as being approximately one square kilometer. The goal of the project was to better define urban density and do it in a more granular way. City averages don’t tell you a whole lot about how neighborhoods vary, and they can be skewed by the denominator you use. i.e. Where are you drawing the urban boundary?

You can play around with his interactive study, here. Each city can be explored according to its 200 most dense cells. One interesting takeaway — though it is probably not all that surprising to this audience — is that New York City is really a unique place when it comes to American cities. If you look at the above chart (sourced from CityLab), you’ll see that most other US cities don’t come close to it in terms of urban density. New York’s 200th densest cell is still denser than the most dense cells of Boston, the Twin Cities, and of Dallas.

The y-axis is the total population in each grid cell.


With every passing year it seems that, for many, the dream of moving from renting to buying a home in Toronto slips farther and farther away. Many are posing the question, when will the Toronto real estate market crash in hopes of a price drop to get their foot in the door, both literally and figuratively speaking.

Comparably, Toronto also has the highest rental prices in Canada. So when it comes to rent versus buy Toronto, 2019 may be the year to really look at your finances and weigh the pros and cons of renting vs buying. If there’s one thing we know for sure, the best day to buy is always yesterday; as prices climb, the money you do have today will be worth less tomorrow.

According to TREB’s data, the average cost of a one bedroom rental in downtown Toronto has increased 30% since Q3 of 2016*. If you knew you’d be paying these record high rents five years ago, maybe you would have pulled the trigger on saving for a down payment and moved from the world of renting to buying. What you’re paying in rent today is comparable to what you could be paying for a mortgage on a condo.

If you’re tired of paying these high prices to rent a home when you could own a home, what can you do to make the switch from renting to buying?

One of the most challenging hurdles to overcome when it comes to buying vs renting a condo is having enough money for the down payment. This is the biggest factor in your rent or buy equation. Let’s say you find a one bedroom condo for sale with a $500,000 price tag. The minimum down payment you can make on that condo is 5% or $25,000.

Seems like a lot of money, doesn’t it? And it is.

Now compare that to what it costs to rent that one bedroom condo which, in Toronto, is about $2,200 per month. After one year of renting that condo, you’ll have paid $26,400 in rent. Congratulations, you’ve just spent more on a year’s rent than it costs for a down payment on the that same condo.

It’s no wonder so many millennials are choosing to live with their parents. It’s not because they’re lazy, it’s because it’s the only way they have a chance in hell at buying a condo in Toronto. According to a recent article by The Star, one third of young adults are living with their parents for this very reason, to save for a down payment.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the privilege of living rent-free for a year with mom and pops. Curious to know what you could afford based on your current rent? Use this rent vs buy calculator by RBC.

Having enough saved for a down payment is one thing, but being a homeowner comes with a few extra monthly expenses. Let’s compare the expenses of renting vs buying.

To set the scene, let’s suppose you’ve purchased the $500,000 condo with $25,000 (5%) down. One thing to note here is that because you’ve put less than 20% down, you’ll need mortgage insurance which, in this case, is an additional $19,000 to your mortgage for a total mortgage of $494,000.

Don’t let this added mortgage insurance phase you. Honestly, paying the slight premium in mortgage insurance in order to start earning equity in the real estate market can be better than waiting to save for the full 20% down payment. We explain why in our blog “Why 5% Down Today is Better than 20% Down Tomorrow.“

In order to calculate the monthly costs affiliated with renting vs buying, let’s say you secure a 5 year fixed rate mortgage at 3.39% over a 25 year amortization period. Your monthly mortgage payments will be $2,438. Compared to $2,200 per month in rent, that’s not bad.

Remember, the difference between renting versus buying is that when you rent, you’re renting space. When you buy, you’re renting money.

So while you’re paying just over $1,000 more to own that condo, think of it as a forced savings account paying into your home equity, unlike renting where you’re paying someone else’s equity.

The disadvantages of renting are easy:

  • Throwing away money
  • Have no control/ability to customize your space

There are obvious benefits to renting:

  • Low maintenance
  • No unexpected costs
  • Not locked in to one place

The disadvantages of buying:

  • More responsibility
  • Locked in to one place (though technically you could rent your place if you needed to relocate)
  • Slightly higher carrying costs

There are also obvious benefits to buying:

  • You have a place to call your own
  • You can customize your space as you see fit
  • You’re building equity in a high performing real estate market

That last point is the biggest homeowner benefit of all. EQUITY.

In Toronto’s real estate market, condo prices in particular have been sky-rocketing. In fact, the condo market was leading the industry at the end of 2018 with an 11.4% increase year-over-year. Conservatively and for the sake of projections we tend to use the historical average which is 5% growth per year.

Circling back to our one bedroom rent or buy Toronto scenario, let’s fast forward five years to the end of your term and see how the numbers compare:

After five years of renting, using the current guideline for an annual 1.8% rent increase, your five year rent adds up to $136,838 along with your expenses (insurance and utilities) adding up to $4,500 for a grand total of $141,338.

After five years of owning, you’ve paid $68,639 towards your mortgage principal, $77,629 in interest, and just over $52,000 in additional expenses. Your grand total after five years of owning is $198,288.

Sure, you’ve spent roughly $57K more to own that same condo, but let’s not forget about that sweet, sweet equity. Let’s say your condo’s value increases 5% per year, your property’s market value over that five year term would resemble something like this:

Purchase Price: $500,000
Year 1: $525,000
Year 2: $551,250
Year 3: $578,813
Year 4: $607,753
Year 5: $638,141

That’s $138,141 you’ve earned in equity just by living there! So while renting you’ll have paid your landlord $136,838 towards their equity, as an owner you’ll be ahead by $138,141 in equity plus the $68,639 towards your mortgage principal.

Even though after the five year term your mortgage balance is $425,361, the equity you’ve earned over five years means, if you were to sell that condo, you’d still make a profit.

Let’s say you decide you want to upgrade your living situation and at the end of your five year term you decide to sell your condo at its current market value of $638,141. After paying your mortgage balance, closing expenses and legal fees, you’re still walking away with $179,373!

Not to mention that because this was your principal residence, all profits earned are 100% tax free!

The renting vs buying conversation isn’t just for first time buyers. If you’re a retiree looking to downsize you may be asking yourself should I sell my house and rent when I retire? We thought it would be worthwhile crunching the numbers for those considering renting in retirement vs owning.

If you’re downsizing, you’re likely not buying a one bedroom $500,000 condo, so for this example we’ll use a two bedroom condo with a price tag of $700,000. Below we’ll compare the cost of owning this condo with a 20% downpayment and mortgage rate of 3.39% with renting a two bedroom condo based on the City of Toronto’s average two bedroom rental rate of $2,989 (Q2 2019).

Are you surprised to see the difference in monthly expenses is only $657? The key benefit that comes with owning is that you’re building equity alongside those monthly payments, rather than just paying your landlord. If you’re able to build equity in retirement, you’ll have more to live off in your golden years. Let’s have a look at the five year outlook of renting vs owning that two bedroom condo.

After the first five years, you’ll have paid about $37,375 more to own in retirement versus choosing to rent. And the equity gains? If we use the historic average of 5% per year, your property’s market value over that five year term would resemble something like this:

Purchase Price: $700,000
Year 1: $735,000
Year 2: $771,750
Year 3: $810,337
Year 4: $850,854
Year 5: $893,397

The conclusion here to consider is that if you’re able to sell your current home to downsize, choosing to use the profits from the sale of your home to buy a Toronto condo has the ability to give you a great return during your retirement. In this case, you could earn $193,397 in equity in just five years.

Remember, real estate is a long term investment and the longer you hold a property, the better the returns will be. Not to mention the ability to leverage your equity into building a real estate investment portfolio. But that’s a story for another day!

It’s east versus west when it comes to the upper echelons of Canadian real estate.

A new report from brokerage Sotheby’s International Realty Canada highlights the chasm separating the luxury segments of housing markets on either end of the country.

Price and sales performance of top-tier residential properties in Toronto and Montreal provide a stark contrast to the struggling luxury markets in Calgary and Vancouver, according to the Sotheby’s 2019 Mid-Year Top-Tier Real Estate Report.

A total of 103 properties priced over $4 million changed hands in the Greater Toronto Area, down 19 percent annually through the first six months of the year.

But Sotheby’s suggests this decline is inflated. Increasingly, well-heeled sellers are avoiding the multiple listings service system used by the Toronto Real Estate Board (and the source for the sales data in the report).

Following the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the TREB’s appeal of an earlier decision in favour of the Competition Bureau — which was battling the board over access to home sales data — wealthy sellers are exclusively listing homes to maintain privacy.

Looking at just the city of Toronto, sales in the $4-million-plus range were roughly flat, declining 2 percent year-over-year in 2019’s first half.

To the east, Montreal’s luxury market is on pace for a record-breaking year.

Sales of condos priced above $1 million — considered to be a luxury threshold in this market, which is more affordable than Toronto — numbered 113 over the study period, up a jaw-dropping 40 percent annually.

And 11 Montreal homes sold for upwards of $4 million, an increase of 267 percent compared to 2018’s first half, although still only a small share of the market.

Calgary’s market remains overshadowed by previous highs recorded during the last oil boom, with the luxury market depressed, at least for now.

“With the conclusion of the provincial election offering fresh optimism, and growth forecasted for the next half decade, it is expected that the city’s top-tier market will continue to see a gradual recovery,” reads the Sotheby’s report.

Just one Calgary home has sold for more than $4 million this year.

And transactions involving residential property valued at more than $1 million plummeted 21 percent to a total of 275.

Vancouver’s decline was even more pronounced — some 73 homes priced over $4 million were snapped up, a 34-percent decline.

“Evolving conditions in Vancouver real estate have created opportunities for prospective top-tier real estate buyers to reevaluate housing options previously out of reach,” says Sotheby’s in the report.

“With market recalibration well underway, activity is expected to regain momentum.”

Amid sustained high levels of demand, condos continued to be the fastest appreciating residential property type in the Greater Toronto Area, according to the latest Royal LePage House Price Survey.

The region’s condo units enjoyed a 7.2% year-over-year increase during the second quarter of the year to reach $542,203.

In comparison, growth in the other asset classes was considerably more muted. The value of two-storey homes in the GTA crept up by just 1.7% annually to $970,772 while bungalows went up by 1.6% to $809,648.

Across all housing types, the aggregate price of a property rose by 26% year-over-year during Q2 2019 to $841,729. Royal LePage predicted that the market’s prices will remain relatively steady by the end of this year, with aggregate prices ticking up by only 1.4% annually.

The condo market’s dynamism was spurred by robust consumer demand for homes priced at $1 million and lower – a trend that will only get stronger soon.

“Recent economic announcements aiming to strengthen first-time home buyers’ purchase power including CMHC’s incentive, have the potential to impact the condominium market,” Royal LePage Signature Realty president Chris Slightham said.

“Our team witnessed some buyers putting decisions on hold until the new mortgage incentives get fully established, waiting to see how they can benefit from the encouraging new measures.”

These positive prospects have to be seen in light of recent ownership numbers, however. Data from Statistics Canada indicated that as much as 39.7% of Toronto’s condo units were found to be either vacant, rented out, or used as second properties by their owners.

Lack of supply driven by the intense popularity of condos used as investment assets has pushed up the city’s rent rates by 30% between 2006 and 2018.

Worse, any additional units that do get built and enter the supply chain tend to be luxury offerings that get acquired immediately by foreign investors, Realosophy Realty president John Pasalis stated.

“Five years down the road, do we really need 50,000 micro-condominiums that are renting for C$2,000 a month?” Pasalis said, as quoted by The Guardian. “I think this is the risk when your entire new housing supply is driven by what investors want, rather than what end users want.”

It appears even developers of pricier, larger condos are conserving space by removing their ovens.

A one-bedroom unit at 155 Yorkville Ave., a four-minute walk from the Royal Ontario Museum, boasts 610 square feet and is asking for $3,295 in rent in an ad on It includes a bedroom and bathtub, a swanky den and a kitchen — but no standlone oven. Instead it has a convection microwave, which combines the functions of a microwave and oven.

Another two-bedroom unit in the building is listed for sale for $1.1 million and also appears to lack a stand-alone oven. The ad says “Ready To Turn To Income Property. Furniture Included.”

In June, the Star reported on a condominium at Front and Bathurst Sts. that houses 162 units without stand-alone ovens. Agnieszka Wloch, vice-president of development at Minto Communities Toronto, told the Star those units were all under 480 square feet and had a convection microwave, chosen as a response to changing lifestyle preferences and as a way to offer “space saving efficiencies and functionality.”

At the time, an ad for one such studio unit in the building — advertised with a “gourmet kitchen” — was asking for $1,650 a month in rent.

But the Yorkville building’s ovenless units appear to be larger and have a bigger price tag, which has experts the Star spoke to highlighting two trends: a downtown-wide shift away from home cooking, and the popularity of short-term rentals.

The Front St. W. building was enacting rules against short-term rentals, Wloch told the Star.

But in the case of the Yorkville Ave. building, the Star found eight listings for what appear to be units in the highrise listed on

Camrost Felcorp, the developer behind the Yorkville Ave. building, which was completed about two years ago, did not return requests for comments.

Thorben Wieditz, spokesperson for Fairbnb, a coalition of tenants’ groups, condo associations, rental landlords and hotel groups, said that ovenless units “will add to the ‘ghost hotel’ stock, but not necessarily to the long-term rental stock in the city.”

Ghost hotels refer to cases where people are leasing or buying multiple units, and taking them off the long-term market by turning them almost exclusively into short-term rentals, Wieditz said.

“These places are more designed and cater more to people that don’t cook, don’t necessarily live in them — and if you rent them out on Airbnb, (not having an oven) would not really matter,” he said, as people who use short-term rentals tend to eat out.

The main reason for the pop-up of ghost hotels? “You can make a lot more money on the short-term rental market than you could renting it out on the long-term market,” Wieditz said.

However, James McKellar, a real estate professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, said there are a number of people who would choose to live in one of these condos, adding that the rise of ovenless units — even in luxury buildings — is a sign of a “lifestyle shift” among downtown residents.

“I think urban life today is very different than what it was even 20 years ago, and developers are working at these trends and trying to accommodate them,” McKeller said.

“There are single-person households today that would look long-term and an oven wouldn’t be that important if they have an alternate to it.”

McKeller also noted that downtown residents tend to be more “location-conscious” when choosing a place to live, and “an oven isn’t going to be a big deal” as their focus is more on the neighbourhood.

Forest Hill Real Estate’s Scott Stren, a broker for one of the Yorkville units, said the stand-alone ovens were omitted be because “of course they’re trying to save space,” pointing to a larger trend of conserving space in Toronto condos.

When asked if potential tenants and homeowners were hesitant on an ovenless space, Stren noted that it wasn’t really an issue.

According to Statistics Canada figures released last month, roughly one in three condos are not owner occupied.

The annual BILD Awards celebrate the GTA’s hottest, new digs. Here are four properties prospective buyers should take a look at

From soaring skyscrapers to low-key low-rises, the Building Industry and Land Development Association highlighted some of Toronto’s top properties at the 39th annual BILD Awards.

The annual ceremony, held last month, honours achievements in planning, design, sales, marketing and city building in 40 categories. A group of 41 judges from across North America selected this year’s winners from 850 submitted entries. Members of the public also pitched in, with more than 5,200 voting online, for the People’s Choice Award winner.

The awards, attended by more than 1,200 industry professionals, set a spotlight on some of the GTA’s hottest real estate projects, while also showcasing how the industry is evolving. Here are four new options buyers should take a look at:

The 81-storey twisting tower in Mississauga, wrapped by jagged, sawtooth balconies and a black-and-white zig-zagged façade, is an Urban Capital project.

The developer rose above the competition with its contemporary, sculpture-like design. The judges also emphasized the project’s planning, overall quality, sustainability and marketing campaign. The M3 will stand alongside the M1 and M2 condos, as well as six other buildings the developer hopes to erect in the coming years.

Why it stands out

At about 260 metres tall, M3 Condos is more than half the height of the CN Tower, making it among the five tallest buildings in the country. Nearly sold-out, it has about 900 residential units, six levels of underground parking, 15,000 square feet of retail and the same amount of office space.

Why you want to live here

Besides such features as deep, contour, soaker tubs in their sleekly styled suites, residents can enjoy the condo’s indoor saltwater pool, a fitness centre, restaurants, event spaces, screening rooms, a kids playground and splash pad, all with a view of a two-acre park in the middle of Mississauga, near Burnhamthorpe Road and Confederation Parkway.


Starting from over $300,000.

This Summerhill community of 19 luxury townhomes is developed by Treasure Hill Homes.

With a reputation for high-quality builds, Treasure Hill Homes’ Charbonnel project was recognized for its superior mid-town location, as well as its focus on customization, accessibility and green space — the latter three representing the peak of new industry trends.

Why it stands out

Each townhome provides an immense sense of space through large, long, triple-pane aluminum windows in most rooms. Foliage lines the backyard and also borders the rooftop terrace. Customization options include a media room, private library, or personal spa. To future-proof units and make them accessible, the townhomes come with private elevators that service each floor.

Why you want to live here

Charbonnel hems the corner of Avenue Road and Oaklands Avenue near De La Salle College, providing walkable access to the boutiques, restaurants and galleries in Rosedale, Summerhill and Davisville villages, while also making for an easy commute to the downtown core, sitting near the TTC Summerhill station on the Yonge-University Line.


Starting from over $3-million.


The Lakeview Village that hopes to transform Mississauga’s waterfront is led by Lakeview Community Partners Ltd., a collection of 25 groups in construction, design, architecture and transportation. The ambitious project, which reimagines land that used to belong to the Ontario Power Generation Station, demonstrates new levels of creativity and collaboration in the industry.

Starting construction in 2021, the developers aim to create a self-sustaining community with homes and jobs for up to 17,000 residents, plus shops, restaurants, entertainment, business parks, nature — all connected to Lake Ontario.

Why it stands out

One of the highlights from the seven different sections of the village is Inspiration Point, which will blend into Lake Ontario with a park, waterfront trail and cultural programming pop-ups along the shoreline.

Why you want to live here

Lakeview village will provide a mix of low- and high-rise residential units and amenities for every season — summer splash pads, winter skating rinks, and seasonal markets. Walk to nearby businesses in the Lakeshore Getaway in the north and Serson Innovation Corridor to the east.


Not yet available.

One of the most coveted awards of the evening, with members of the public casting their votes online, went to M2M Condos in North York, by Aoyuan International. The developer has properties around the world, including One30 Hyde Park in Australia, The Granville in Vancouver and properties in China.

Why it stands out

BILD noted that Aoyuan’s vision for M2M is a condominium community that supports and encourages a healthy urban lifestyle, while providing living options that make it easy for families to raise children in the city. The master plan includes more than 1,500 new residences, a community centre and a daycare.

Why you want to live here

Located at the corner of Yonge and Cummer, there are plenty of dining and shopping options nearby, as well as TTC transit access. It’s also near a variety of green spaces such as the Bayview Golf and Country Club, The Thornhill Club, Newtonbrook Park, Silverview Park and Hendon Park.

To be finished in 2021, there will be five towers in total that will feature one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, plus one-bedroom suites with two dens.


Starting at $389,900.