by Carolyn Ireland
Of all the zany things happening in Toronto’s real estate market last week, perhaps the most mind-boggling was the melee that erupted over a pleasant yet unremarkable condo unit near Yonge and Davisville.
Seven parties leapt into the competition and pushed the sale price to $420,000 – or 8 per cent above the asking price of $389,000.
David Fleming of Bosley Real Estate Ltd., is one agent who was staggered by the deal. He wrote about it in his Toronto Realty Blog.
Mr. Fleming says there’s too much choice in the condo market right now for it to make sense for buyers to compete over a run-of-the-mill unit.
“I would never in this market tell a buyer to get involved in a bidding war on a condo,” he said in an interview.
“A nice house in Riverdale maybe – but not a condo.”
But that’s just one deal and Mr. Fleming says it could be an outlier. The point is that the market is extremely erratic at the moment.
The numbers from the Toronto Real Estate Board show that sales edged up 2.4 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area in the first half of January compared with the same period last year. The average selling price rose by 4 per cent in the same period.
But the market was – and continues to be – choppy and weird. Some properties stagnate for weeks and then sell at a significant discount of the asking price, while others sell overnight for more. Mr. Fleming raises another example of a house in the west end that had an asking price just less than $550,000, which is a segment of the market that draws lots of buyers.
His clients were primed to make an offer on Tuesday, which was the night set aside for reviewing bids. But before they had the chance, the house was sold late last Friday when a bully offer landed in front of the sellers.
So-called bullies usually offer an amount so substantial that the sellers are tempted to snatch at it. But in this case, Mr. Fleming points out, the bully got the house for $580,000. It’s a great deal for the buyer, he figures, but the sellers left a substantial amount of money on the table.
“I would have bought that house at that price and I’m not even in the market.”
His clients, he says, would have offered $610,000 or $620,000.
“That was frustrating. My clients are crushed.”
Elli Davis, an agent with Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., cites the example of a house in Moore Park that received two offers and sold for $2.375-million. That marks a $176,000 premium above the asking price.
Mr. Fleming also had a buyer interested in that one, but the house sold within a day of coming on the market – before they even got over there to see it.
“Here I was telling him that I didn’t think the property would move.”
Mr. Fleming says lots of listings are sitting. He can’t imagine another condo unit getting seven offers in the current market.
“There are a million cookie-cutter condos out there that no one cares about.”
Ms. Davis says she tallied eight deals in January, 2012, but so far this year she has only recorded four. Still, she hopes to make up the difference by the end of the month.
“I’ve got a few in the works. Buyers just seem to be taking a little bit more time.”
Ms. Davis says some buyers are speculating that prices may fall and wonder if they should wait. But others are willing to move if they see the right property.
“They want that security that the market isn’t going to totally fall out of bed.”
She’s advising sellers to set a realistic asking price instead of setting an eye-catching price in the hope of sparking a bidding war. But she also cautions against asking too much. Prices have softened a bit since last spring, she says.
“If you’re way too high, people will ignore you and buy something that’s not.”
Mr. Fleming says the lack of snow in January may have helped the market because house hunters had no trouble tramping around. And even the arctic temperatures this week didn’t deter the buyers of 76 Langley Ave. in Riverdale. The home, priced at $949,000, sold Tuesday night for $1,129,000. “So much for the impending real estate crash,” he says. But the volatile nature of the market makes it difficult for agents to predict how the spring will shape up.
“One day you might get five offers on a house and the next week a house down the street gets zero.”
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Nov. 16 2012, 4:30 PM EST
The Burkebrook Town Manors exteriors echo the architecture of existing streetcapes with small bricks, pre-cast textures and decorative railings. Inside, high ceilings provide a sense of space and lights.
Don Pugh, vice president of lowrise for the Daniels Corp., is quite used to would-be buyers lining up overnight when his company launches one of its FirstHome communities which offer affordable homes to first-time buyers.
However what “surprised the heck out of me” was that people camped out overnight in anticipation of the opening of the Burkebrook Town Manors (http://www.theburkebrooktowns.com) earlier this year at Daniels’ luxury community, Kilgour Estates, in the exclusive Lawrence Park neighbourhood.
Just three of the 21 Burkebrook townhomes remain for sale; they will close out all phases of Kilgour Estates, which sits on 12 manicured acres that were once part of the 200-acre property bought in 1909 by by Sir Joseph Kilgour, a former president of the Canada Paper Company, who established his country estate Sunnybrook Farms there.
Since it acquired the site from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (which sits just west of Kilgour Estates), Daniels has set about creating a master-planned community that would reflect the tradition of grand residences and the prestige of the neighbourhood.
Today, Daniels has transformed the property on the edge of the Burke Brook Ravine into a natural pedestrian-friendly enclave that provides a peaceful escape from the stresses of city life.
For the final phase of Kilgour Estates, which includes midrise condos with townhomes at the base and stately bungalows, Daniels chose to offer the three-storey town manors, which range in size from 1,950 to 2,000 square feet. High-end townhouses tucked into little pockets of desirable neighbourhoods are growing and popular market trend.
While Daniels had success with the bungalows it offered at Kilgour Estate, that started at $1.6 million, Mr. Pugh says the townhomes, which started at just under $1 million, appeal to a broader market.
“It’s a real mix of buyers. We’ve got young single professionals, move-down buyers, families with young children,” says Mr. Pugh. “The price per square foot is $500. The downtown luxury condo market is way more than that, $700 to $900 a square foot and more,” he points out.
Yet the townhouses are definitely upscale and emulate the architecture of existing streetcapes with façades with smaller bricks, pre-cast textures and decorative railings. Mr. Pugh says it was important to maintain an exterior design that was in keeping with the community.
“We have built a lot of townhouses, but this is first time to this time of demographic. We have double-car garages that wouldn’t be seen in a less expensive townhouse offering and spacious layouts,” says Mr. Pugh. “We have 10-foot main floor ceilings which is awesome as it makes them feel much more grand and it’s the type of features people would expect from a million-dollar townhouse.”
He says while all Daniels projects take the same building science approach, Burkebrook includex more upgraded features such as gourmet kitchens, granite countertops, fireplaces, larger rooms and more attention to detail. “More time is spent at the finishing stages too. When you are building at a higher caliber, you want to take more time for the tile guy, the kitchen guy.”
Along with the creature comforts built into the townhouses, buyers get the advantage of lowrise living couple with the convenience of the condo lifestyle.
They’ll have access to the private amenities of the Kilgour Club, a full-range fitness, social and recreational facility created by award-winning designer Brian Gluckstein.
It includes a sunlit aquatic centre, an elegant library, cozy home theatre space and a party room.
310 Oriole Parkway
Avenue Rd. and Eglinton Ave. W.
- Asking price: $1.795-million
- Selling price: $1.775-million
- Previous selling price: $768,000 (2000)
- Taxes: $11,894 (2012)
- Monthly fee: $489
- Day on the market: nine
- Listing agent: Elli Davis, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.’
More than a dozen buyers requested showings of this three-storey house, which fronts on a busy residential street just a of couple blocks from parks, restaurants, shops and the Eglinton subway station.
What They Got:
The previous owners extensively revamped this traditional centre-hall residence into a more modern 3,515-square-foot space with five bedrooms, six bathrooms and casual and formal entertaining areas, plus a 692-square-foot basement suite with a guest bedroom, recreation area, kitchen and separate entry. Hosting large families and affairs can be easily done in the dining room, a fireside living room with access to a rear deck and family-room addition off the kitchen with glass doors to a heated pool, as well as media room with a 108-inch screen and projector on the second floor. Four-car parking is available on a private driveway on the 50-by-135-foot lot.
The Agent’s Take:
“The house was in excellent condition throughout [as the seller] had done renovations over the years that really enhanced the home, which was a very large home,” says agent Elli Davis.
“It had a beautifully renovated kitchen with a large eat-in area and an open-concept family room, which opened to the backyard with a glamorous in-ground pool and lovely landscaping. It looked like a country club.”
Posted in The Globe and Mail, July 12, 2012.
Published in Women’s Post, Sarah Lambert, 18 June 2012.
Elli Davis, Sales Representative, Royal LePage
Even as an elementary school teacher, Elli was constantly reading real-estate ads and going to open houses on weekends.
“I guess I always had a latent interest in real estate without even realizing it was there,” she says.
At a friend’s urging, she took the required courses. That was in 1983.
Within three weeks she had sold her first home.
By 1987, she’d been named the number one agent for Royal LePage and, although the company has quadrupled in size since she started out, Elli still maintains one of the very top positions within the company.
Elli has been able to achieve this level of success by following her golden rule: “I always service my customer as I would want to be serviced myself and I truly care about their largest asset as if it were my own money.”
By pushing herself out of her comfort zone, Elli has created a life that she loves – balancing her time between her inspiring career and her family.
“Take a chance, become uncomfortable,” she urges, “If you make yourself uncomfortable, it’s amazing how fast you become comfortable; and if you’re not, then go on and try something else. The minute I started real estate, I knew it was just perfect for me.”
Elli Davis was a woman well ahead of her time when she bought her first condo 26 years ago.
“It took me about an hour. There were just two buildings to choose from in the (central Toronto) area at the time,” says Davis, who wasn’t even 30.
But her agent was so awful at dealing with what was, admittedly, a bit of an anomaly at the time — a single woman buying a place on her own — that Davis would become a realtor herself two years later. Since then, she’s seen the real estate revolution firsthand.
Single women now account for about 20 per cent of all real estate purchases and well over 30 per cent of condo purchases, especially in Toronto’s booming downtown core, realtors and condo developers say.
Their significant buying power, and exacting standards, have helped drive the move to granite and stainless steel designer kitchens, better bathroom storage and even lighting — especially over the makeup mirror, says Jim Ritchie, president of Canada’s biggest condo builder, Tridel.
They are looking for locations within walking distance of transit and like the added security of condos, especially concierges who will keep an eye on underground security cameras as they head to their car.
Their style sense has even influenced unit layouts and the look of the lobbies, says Ritchie.
“The good news is, what appeals to female buyers benefits everybody,” he adds.
The average age of Tridel’s female buyers is about 33, says Ritchie, but they’re less likely to buy a unit before it’s built — partly because they want to be able to walk around the place and look out the windows first.
So they tend to buy from investors who are flipping their brand-new units and tend to require less of a down payment, which works well for women who tend to have a harder time coming up with the standard 20 to 25 per cent deposit.
Women see real estate as such an investment in their own future financial security that friends and co-workers are increasingly banding together to buy duplexes or single-family homes where they can share space and costs, says Laura Parsons, a mortgage specialist with BMO Bank of Montreal.
“We’re seeing a mix of all sorts of things on the mortgage front,” says Parsons, “some really different approaches” from women.
Three waitresses pooled their money, as did two nurses, in Calgary’s booming housing market, fearing that if they didn’t buy now they risked being priced out of a home forever, says Parsons.
Many buy with an eye to the future, close to schools for the children they hope to have someday.
And the trend shows no signs of letting up: Among Canadians who hope to buy in the next two years, some 49 per cent are women while just 35 per cent are men, according to the recently released RBC Homeownership poll.
“This is a universal phenomenon,” says Hamilton Re/Max realtor Conrad Zurini, who spoke about the female phenomenon during a BMO roundtable discussion on housing earlier this year.
While exact statistics are hard to find in Canada, the U.S. National Association of Realtors did a study in 2011 that found 54 per cent of all first-time buyers are married couples and 12 per cent are unmarried couples. Single females accounted for about 21 per cent of sales and single men just 12 per cent, says Zurini.
“Women have always made a lot of the house buying decisions, but now they have that mandate more than ever, and they can do it on their own, because they bring sizable incomes to the table,” says Zurini.
“We’ve had to rethink the way we market real estate because this group definitely communicates differently. They text a lot. They ask a lot of questions. They are fact finders. And they really look at where do I want to be in the next few years.”
Crime rates and “walk scores” are also critical: “A guy will just get in the car and not really think about that,” says Zurini. “A woman is thinking, ‘Is there a Starbucks on my way to work? They’re thinking lifestyle and they will sacrifice size to augment that.”
Given that women tend to outlive men, and the first wave of baby boomers are now in their late 60s, the trend of women buying on their own is not only likely to increase, but have a profound effect on housing of the future, says retired architect and urban planning expert Luis Rodriguez who has studied the issue of women’s impact on housing.
They’ll be looking beyond nice kitchens to flexible accommodation that perhaps allows them to share common spaces but also have personal space, much like student housing, says Rodriguez.
“This social trend (of more female buyers) is going to be very important to the housing market,” he adds.
Already they are looking for more durable finishes and turnkey homes that don’t require renovations or extensive maintenance, realtors say.
Even a plaster wall needing repair or missing baseboards in a room can be enough to turn a single woman off buying an otherwise great property, says realtor Sandra Rinomato of the west-end Toronto brokerage Sandra Rinomato Realty Inc. and host of the new HGTV show Buy Herself.
Rinomato spends each half-hour show helping women become homeowners — from the newly divorced to the veteran renter who has nothing to show for 20 years of handing over monthly cheques to a landlord.
Elli Davis was determined not to be there.
She was in her late 20s, had saved up a bit of money and wanted the financial security of owning her own home.
She also wanted a doorman and someplace close to downtown that was easy to maintain.
“Those are the same things that prevail for women today. Except they’ve got a lot more choice.”
1001 Bay St. #1408 (Wellesley and Bay streets)
- Asking price: $385,000
- Sold for: $382,000
- Taxes: $1,951 (2011)
- Monthly fee: $489
- Bedrooms: 1
- Bathrooms: 1
- Time on the market: two days
“A spectacular view of the city can be enjoyed from this suite, in a luxury condo on Bay Street,” says listing agent Elli Davis.
The one-bedroom, one-bathroom suite has a combination living and dining room, stainless steel appliances in the kitchen and French doors and a four-piece ensuite bathroom in the master suite. The den has an east view of the city.
The suite has an ensuite laundry and comes with one underground parking space and a locker.
Building amenities include a concierge, an exercise room, an indoor pool, a sauna and a squash court.
The suite is within walking distance of the TTC and shopping.
Listing Broker: Royal LePage Real Estate Services (Elli Davis)
Posted in National Post, May 14, 2012
55 DELISLE AVENUE, NO. 505, TORONTO
- ASKING PRICE $995,000
- SELLING PRICE $993,500
- PREVIOUS SELLING PRICES $850,000 (2008); $818,000 (October, 2006); $555,421 (July, 2006)
- TAXES $6,139 (2011)
- DAYS ON THE MARKET Nine
- LISTING AGENT Elli Davis, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.
There were about two dozen showings for this two-bedroom-plus-den corner suite situated in a brick mid-rise around the corner from popular restaurants, shops and subway at Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue. With little turnover in the roughly six-year-old building, two contenders negotiated offers and the property was sold within days.
What They Got:
This fifth-floor suite is an mid-size model in the Carlyle with 1,505 square feet of living space, complete with nine-foot ceilings and windows everywhere but the enclosed den, as well as hardwood floors in public areas and carpeting in the private sleeping quarters on opposite sides of the unit.
The dining area is situated off the open living space and separate eat-in kitchen, which both have walkouts to a balcony with a gas outlet.
The master suite features a walk-in closet, a curved bank of windows and the larger of two full bathrooms.
Stacked laundry machines, stainless steel kitchen appliances, including a gas stove, two lockers and two parking spots, are included with the unit.
Each month, the fee of $1,224 covers water and heating costs, not to mention 24-hour concierge and maintenance of a gym, party room and guest suites.
The Agent’s Take:
“The appeal is that it’s a newer building by Yonge and St. Clair,” says agent Elli Davis. “It offered high ceilings and it was in excellent condition.”
The outdoor space also bore some benefits of a backyard. “It was a nice balcony that looked through the trees,” says Ms. Davis. “Many people moving from a home want to retain their barbecue and they do allow it there.”
Posted in The Globe and Mail, April 05, 2012
61 ST. CLAIR AVENUE WEST, NO. 807, TORONTO
- ASKING PRICE $675,000
- SELLING PRICE $645,000
- PREVIOUS SELLING PRICE $316,000 (1996)
- TAXES $4,761 (2011)
- DAYS ON THE MARKET 26
- LISTING AGENT Elli Davis, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.
On a stretch of St. Clair Avenue West between Yonge Street and Avenue Road, this two-bedroom corner suite at Granite Place welcomed 25 potential buyers, from young professionals to downsizing homeowners.
What They Got:
On the eighth floor of the two-tower community, the 1,412-square-foot suite features windows in each room, including an eat-in kitchen with parquet floors, a carpeted dining area and an open living space with a walkout to a 25-by 8-foot balcony that is also accessible from a master suite.
Practical assets include two bathrooms, including the master ensuite, a laundry room, a locker and parking.
The monthly fee of $1,070 pays for utilities, 24-hour concierge and common amenities, such as a gym, indoor pool, hot tub, party and meeting rooms and a private park.
The Agent’s Take:
“People really love Granite Place [on account of] the lush landscaped lobby and a very large indoor pool, which attracted a lot of people,” says agent Elli Davis. “It’s an easy walk to the subway and the shops. The Yonge and St. Clair location is very, very hot.”
This suite, which is an average size in the roughly 30-year-old building, also provides lots of space to roam. “This was a split, two-bedroom, two-bathroom plan and the balconies are quite large there,” adds Ms. Davis.
Posted in The Globe and Mail, April 05, 2012
337 SPADINA RD., TORONTO
- ASKING PRICE $1,195,000
- SELLING PRICE $1,190,000
- PREVIOUS SELLING PRICE $691,588 (1999)
- TAXES $8,429 (2011)
- DAYS ON THE MARKET 67
- LISTING AGENT Elli Davis, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd
Situated across the street from Sir Winston Churchill Park and down the street from St. Clair West subway station, this four-storey executive townhouse was initially listed for over $1.2-million. After visits from roughly 40 shoppers and a price reduction to $1,195,000, it ultimately sold for $1,190,000.
What They Got
In a row of 12-year-old townhouses, this roughly 3,000-square-foot residence has a fairly standard plan with three bedrooms, four bathrooms and several entertaining areas indoors and out, plus nine-foot ceilings with pot lights throughout, an elevator and access to a double garage off the lower-level recreation room.
At street level, there is a foyer and library with limestone floors.
Hardwood floors flow throughout the second level where there is a dining room with decorative wainscoting and under valance lighting, and a central kitchen with stainless steel appliances, including a gas stove, and granite counters overlooking a sunken living room with a gas fireplace and terrace doors.
Sleeping quarters consist of two bedrooms on the third floor, along with a laundry room, and a sky-lit master suite on the fourth floor with his-and-her closets, a five-piece bathroom and a wide deck.
The property was also outfitted with central vacuum, sound and security systems.
The Agent’s Take
“Three thirty-seven Spadina was beautifully located in Forest Hill near Spadina and St. Clair,” says agent Elli Davis. “You can walk to Forest Hill Village, Winston Churchill Park, St. Clair [West] subway, Loblaws and the Joe store.”
This townhouse also had many modern comforts and conveniences buyers wanted. “Features include four levels, an elevator and double garage attached,” says Ms. Davis. “It’s perfect for downsizers or someone who doesn’t want the maintenance of a home, but doesn’t want a condo either.”
Posted in Globe and Mail, Mar. 22, 2012