Can Condos ever house families?
Units have to be flexible if groups other than students can ever move in
It’s no secret to anyone house hunting that prices in Toronto are high.
The most recent figures from the Toronto Real Estate Board puts detached houses in the 416 area at an average price of $1,040,018. So what’s a young family to do?
A detached home is a pipe dream for the typical buyer. Those same figures indicate that even semi-detached homes in T.O. are too pricey, at an average of $702,035.
Condos are becoming the only option for many families that want to stay in the city.
Trinity-Spadina MP Adam Vaughan has long been a champion of the three-bedroom condo as an urban option for a young family of four or more.
But builders are often reluctant to include three-bedroom units, Vaughan says, because they’re much more difficult to pre-sell.
“You can’t sell a three-bedroom pre-sale, which is how developers make money. A project may not be ready for one, two or three years, which is not much of a problem for singles, but when there are kids involved, you need a home for them.” Functionality also comes into question. Many three-bedroom units are listed as 2+1 bedrooms, which typically means two bedrooms with windows and one windowless room listed as an office or den that could double as a third bedroom. That may work for an infant or toddler, but older kids (or adults) might feel claustrophobic in a space like that.
New condominiums have to be looked at like Toronto’s older Victorian houses, says Vaughan.
“It could have started as a duplex, then became a rooming house, then someone turned it into a single-family dwelling.”
Condos need to have a longer life cycle than a few years (or decades).
Even if families aren’t the first occupants of three-bedroom units (many owners opt to rent them out to students), Vaughan believes that eventually, as prices come down, families will move in.
The ability to knock down interior walls to build bigger units will also come into play. But new condo developments need more than a great sushi place around the corner – they need infrastructure like schools and TTC service, he says.
Families will always find a way to remain in the city if that’s where they prefer to raise their children, but there are still a lot of issues to address.
Housing prices, the most pressing issue, are predicted to remain high. According to a report by TD Economics, the plunge in oil prices, which has lowered the Canadian dollar, will be a boon to manufacturing provinces like Ontario. This, along with foreign investors, will keep the Toronto housing market hot for the foreseeable future.