Tag Archives: monetary concerns
Get out of the traffic and into an easy-living, luxurious downtown condo
Canwest News Service
When the pace of life gets too hectic, some people head for the hills — but not Frank and Lori. This fortysomething couple will soon be shipping out of the picturesque village of Kleinburg and diving straight into the bustle and confusion of downtown Toronto.
For Frank and Lori (who asked that their last name not be used), the move makes perfect sense. He is a partner at an insurance and estate practice near York University, while she teaches school in Mississauga. They bought their current home — a 2,500-square-foot bungalow across from the celebrated McMichael Art Gallery — about 16 years ago. They like it just fine but admit they are rarely there. Instead, they spend an excessive amount of time in their cars, either commuting to work or scurrying downtown to take in their favourite restaurants, films or operas.
“Between business and pleasure, we drive into the city about three to five times a week,” Frank says. “We wanted a lifestyle change, and thought we should get out of our cars and into an area where we could walk to the action. So we started to search for something that could provide us our last move; a spot that would give us all the luxuries but in a setting that didn’t feel like a condo complex.”
Last year, they finally found their dream condo — a spacious 1,600-sq.-ft. unit at 77 Charles, Aspen Ridge Homes’s 15-storey, 47-unit project currently under construction in Yorkville. So much about it is right, says Frank, from the quaintness of the building to the proximity to the University of Toronto, his alma mater, and the many interesting areas to walk their cocker spaniel, Dixie.
There are an abundance of Franks and Loris waiting to put down elegant doormats at a luxury high-rise. Many have put last year’s monetary concerns behind them and are once again putting down hefty deposits in anticipation of their next big, luxurious move.
OK, it hasn’t all been rosy. Last year was a roller coaster ride for real estate, the gloom coinciding with the economy’s demise. “It was definitely challenging — for everyone,” says Howard Tikka, director of marketing, Trump International Hotel & Tower. “We continue to make sales, but at a much slower pace than we have been accustomed to. While the Canadian economy has fared better than most, even those with the capital to make luxury purchases and investments in luxury real estate have scaled back a bit as well,” he says.
“From November ’08 to a couple of weeks into February, we would have weeks where nobody — not even a single soul — would come into the sales office, so that was pretty scary,” recalls Sam Crignano, president of Cityzen Development Group. “You had traffic in the order of 45 to 70 [visitors] a week down to nothing. Some support staff had to get cut. … We were preparing for the worst, and thank God it didn’t happen.”
The market eventually rebounded in spring 2009 and sales offices in the Greater Toronto Area started to see some action from both local and foreign buyers. Within weeks, sales were back on track and developers started feeling relief. In fact, last October Mr. Crignano began construction on three new luxury buildings that are selling fast: Pier 27, comprising 700 units in two towers at the foot of Yonge Street, priced up to $4.6-million; 58-floor L Tower a few blocks north, priced up to $2.6-million; and Oakville’s The Shores, 202 suites and nine town-homes priced to $2.6-million.
“Once people took a look around and realized the Canadian economy and our housing climate were very different from what was happening in the States, when they saw our market was very stable and had solid underpinnings, they were able to get comfortable with making purchasing decisions again and looking at properties and what their options were,” says Mimi Ng, vice-president of marketing for Menkes Development, one of three partners building the Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences in Yorkville.
Boosting the buying frenzy are cranes and construction workers visibly busy behind the hoarding. Many luxury buildings and major hotel brands, such as Trump, Shangri-La and Four Seasons, used 2009 to tout their residences and have now broken ground, with The Ritz-Carlton already topped off and ready for its first occupants by summer.
“A lot of people are scrambling to get new products on the shelf for the early part of 2010 while the world is cautiously optimistic, and people will continue to buy,” predicts Mark Cohen, senior vice-president at The Condo Store Marketing Systems. “As long as borrowing rates remain low, prices remain competitive and the general economy seems to be healthy from a rebound standpoint, people will continue to buy new homes and condos. There’s a guarded sense of optimism for a very good 2010.”
One curiosity that has come to light since the recent boom is that local buyers are outpacing those from overseas. Christene De Gasparis, Aspen Ridge Homes’s marketing director, says many own properties in New York and Muskoka and are selling their large Toronto home for a smaller but equally luxurious pied-a-terre. Robbyn Hayden, sales manager for Living Shangri-La, is delighted by the local interest because “you don’t want to be in an investor-only building.”
Despite the bounce-back, luxury high-rise players are hopeful about 2010. Ben Myers, executive vice-president of Urbanation, says few projects launched in 2009 due to the economy, leaving plenty of inventory left to sell, and he does not expect many new projects to come to the market until the current units are sold. Mr. Myers says the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), which kicks in this July, will not make a big impact on luxury buyers “because they are already spending a lot of money in this market.”
Julie Di Lorenzo, co-president of Diamante Development Corp. that is building The Florian, a 21-storey, 90-unit building in Upper Yorkville, says prices will certainly rise due to the dearth of units.
“There aren’t a lot of luxury two,-three-and four-bedroom units out there, period,” she says. “They simply have not been built. Inventory of high-end condos is not available. Yet there are still many, many couples who will be downsizing. That demographic is just starting to influence luxury sales. The first Baby Boomers are just hitting 65 and thinking about their luxury home without stairs to climb and eavestroughs to clean. And now many young families have substantial recreation properties and they prefer [to have] the home in the country and the condo in the city for lifestyle.”
Kind of like Frank and Lori. They may not own a cottage, but they want the lifestyle that goes with luxury high-rise living. Judging by the reactions of their family and long-time neighbours, they will have plenty of company at their new pad.
“One word: envy,” laughs Frank as he describes the reaction when he started telling people of the downtown move. “We’ll have a lot more friends and family coming to visit. We’ll be the cool aunt and uncle — and we’ll get to enjoy all the fun and frolic of Yorkville.”
Incoming search terms
- Luxury Toronto Condo Living From Lake Ontario to tony Yorkville and out to the...
- Decision to buy is lifestyle driven Toronto has never had more choice in location or greater...
- Luxury Living: Pick your palace The Regency Yorkville is but one of countless condominiums, townhouses...
- Luxury condos create mansions in the sky Toronto's super-luxury condo market has blossomed in recent years, even...
- Long term prospects glowing indeed Sound Investment National Post While the near-term future of the...