On the hunt for an affordable detached home
By Derek Raymaker – Globe and Mail
There is very little room left for large-scale tract development of detached or large semi-detached housing.
There’s not much that everybody can agree on when it comes to the market for new housing in Metro Toronto, which includes the former City of Toronto along with North York, Etobicoke and Scarborough.
About the only thing that is beyond argument is that there is very little room left for large-scale tract development of detached or large semi-detached housing. Low-rise communities now under way are small-scale and, if not taking the place of recently demolished residential areas, are filling land previously zoned for other purposes.
Of the 5,141 housing starts under way in Toronto in the first three months of 2008, 4,669 were condos, followed by 268 townhouses, 76 semis and 128 detached houses, according to data collected by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
Even in these uncertain economic times, there is still an enormous demand for condos in Toronto and a huge volume of high-rise units constantly coming on the market in response. Condos appeal to a broad swath of the market – first-time buyers, new Canadians, empty-nesters and down-sizers, investor buyers and people who simply can’t afford a traditional house.
Yes, affordability is a growing concern. The average price of a new single detached house in Toronto proper topped $1-million in the first three months of 2008 – $1,002,534 to be exact, according to CMHC. (It should be noted that this includes lavish custom houses built for high-end buyers, which skews the average-price data.)
The exception is Scarborough, on the eastern end of the city, where the average new detached price from January-through-March was $408,070, which is significantly less than the Greater Toronto (including the 905 suburbs) average detached price of $518,103.
Launching this month is Monarch Homes’ Evergreen at the corner of Midland Avenue and St. Clair Avenue East, the site of 200 houses including a large number of single detached houses, with prices starting at the mid-$300,000s and rising to the mid-$500,000s.
Monarch is also aiming to make Evergreen a showpiece of green construction and energy efficiency that it would like to duplicate elsewhere.
Monarch has taken a shine to Scarborough, where it is building Upper Danforth Village at Danforth Road, east of Warden Avenue. Seven detached houses on 30-foot-wide lots are still available for between $497,000 and $510,000, all in the 2,300-square-foot range.
Upper Danforth Village’s large detached houses are embedded in a larger community of townhouses and semis ranging from $325,000 to $421,000. All are designed to fit in with the surrounding residential community, with brick-and-stone exteriors and a variety of façades featuring peaked roofs and Victorian-style motifs.
A similar community, with an array of dwellings ranging from detached houses to townhouses, is the Conservatory Group’s Port Union Village at the eastern end of Lawrence Avenue near Lake Ontario.
About 50 detached models are still available, all of which have a maritime feel. Ranging from $435,000 to $553,000 for between 1,680 and 2,793 sq. ft., Port Union Village resembles a standard suburban development, but features easy access to the lakeshore and a variety of conservation land nearby.
In the same area, but on a more exclusive scale, is North Star Homes’ Eastlake Village II development. Only eight lots on 40- and 45-foot-wide properties were for sale, with five still available, ranging in price from $570,000 to $663,000 and in size from 2,400 to 3,309 sq. ft.
Eastlake Village’s designs take on a more stately dimension with imposing classical facades with brick construction, blending into existing houses as an infill development near the lake shore.
Also in the Port Union neighbourhood is Laura Ellis Gardens, a detached community by Fairglen Homes featuring 21 lots with 50-foot frontages. Similar to Eastlake Village in the size and stature of its models, eight detached houses remain for sale here, ranging from $590,000 to $660,000 and up to 3,402 sq. ft.
Similar detached houses can be bought at a bit of a discount in the 905 suburbs, but the proximity to the city and the lake shore make the Port Union infill communities a fairly popular niche product.
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