There are many reasons why someone should not buy a new condo. For starters, it takes an average of 3.85 years for a typical Toronto condo to move from the initial sales stage to occupation. As we all know, a lot can change in that time – romance, babies, breakups, job relocations, or it could be as simple as you bought yourself a St. Bernard in a building that only allows small dogs. Also, at this particular moment in time, in this city, you can often buy a resale condo at a better price per square foot than a new condo. On top of that, the average Toronto unit is shrunk by 65 square feet in the last four years. So, why buy new?
Well, it’s not always a rational decision, and, to be fair, there are some pretty amazing projects under way in this city where SOME of the newer condos can clearly outshine the condos that have been around for a few years or more. In other words, the smart new condos have witnessed how some of the old ones have failed and attempted to improve where others screwed up.
Of course, not all new condos are worth considering, but some are pretty impressive. So, with that said, here are three Toronto neighbourhoods I think would be the best place to buy a new condo right now.
1. Corktown. This River City project where several condos went up all at once was planned perfectly. There is a good mix of midrise condos here so you don’t feel like the extreme height of the buildings have blocked most of your daylight. You’re still centrally located south of King Street East just west of the Don River. So, it’s easy to get around. Best of all, the design behind this place was not a hodge podge of different developers squeezing every last spec of greenspace out of a neighbourhood. Not here. There are parks and promenades and some pretty great new community businesses starting to move in. The best part? Well, you have one of the best green spaces in the city called the Corktown Common. Believe or not, Waterfront Toronto can do something well besides not make decisions. In my recent walk throught the Corktown Common, I was amazed at how well the park was designed. It is overflowing with local plants and wildlife with extended boardwalks throughout. The large marsh also has a practical function as part of the stormwater management system. But it’s also a place to play – playgrounds, splashpads, an athletic field and open lawn for informal gatherings. I think this area will be a little undervalued at first. You are investing in a vision, but this one has been well planned, and I think it’s a great place to live or invest.
2. High Park North/ West Bend/ The JunctionOne thing about this area north of Bloor from Dundas to Runnymede, is the amazing collection of historic homes. Not only does it have great infrastructure with the city’s largest park nearby, but this neigbhourhood entails an exploding commerical strip that is becoming a new centre for the hip restaurants and cool shops, right along Dundas West in the Junction. There’s not a lot of room for condos in this area, but that’s why you should consider buying here. When it comes time to sell in the future, your competition with other condos will be limited. It also has a lot of warehouse and church conversions, which I believe is a great buy in any neighbourhood, but especially this one. If you want everything new, there is a great opportunity here to buy right across the street from High Park, where there will never be a building placed in front of you to block your view of miles of green space and well-maintained parkland right down to the lake. If you can care less about the view, then know that it will be gold when it comes to resale down the road. Daniels, the developers, have been waiting a long time to get their hands on this land, but the High Park Condos are on their way! Also, I would suggest the very cool “Duke” condos, just east of Keele on Dundas. This part of the the West Bend/Junction strip is a little under-appreciated, but the design on this place is fantastic and this midrise fits in perfectly with the neighbourhood.
3. Yonge Street South of BloorIf the condo market ever goes down, I often say, it would be best to own something unique and boutique that does not look like every other condo. Alternatively, if you like to be high in the sky, you want to be near the TTC. And by TTC, I don’t mean a pokey street car or a smelly bus, but a subway that can actually get you around this city quickly, like the Yonge Subway Line. If you like the views from the bigger condos, the Toronto city by-laws will now allow developers to build higher than ever before on places like Yonge Street. Further south on this main street, you have condos coming up like Yonge and Rich, sure it’s a terrible name, but wow, they could sure use some condos with decks down there, which these condos offer. Then there’s Aura. Though I don’t always think big is the way to go, I think Aura confidently tells us to go big or go home. And at 78 stories, it contains the highest living spaces in Canada, at the corner of Gerrard and Yonge, an area that really needed an infusion of wow. And when you have a perfect walk score of 100, you can practically walk any where, get rid of your car, and rent out your precious parking for lots of money.
If any of these projects tweak your interest at a time where you would like to buy a new condo unit for yourself or for investment, it would not be wise to go marching into the sales centre and buy a unit. Use a real estate salesperson so you have someone working in your corner, and not working for the builder’s best interest. If you want to save on new condos, get in early. Though it’s always more of gamble to go in early without the sales centre set up, I think you can score some good deals here during the VIP days. Alternatively, wait until the building is registered when a lot of buyers, who have bought years ago, will all be trying to sell at once. At that point, prices can be temporarily be pushed down when there’s a flood of new units on the market from the same building. So, if you want to buy new, do it right, and do it in the right neighbourhoods!