Can Con­dos ever house fam­i­lies?

Units have to be flex­i­ble if groups other than stu­dents can ever move in

NOW Magazine - SuiteLife - - News - By FRASER ABE

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.


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