Should a house without parking be a deal breaker?

I’m going to make a bold statement: just because you own a car doesn’t mean you have to buy a house with parking. In fact, you may end up saving money by buying a property without a parking spot.

At one point in time, I said I would never buy a house that didn’t have parking, but that’s exactly what I ended up doing, and for the time that I owned the house, finding parking wasn’t ever a problem - and it was smack dab in the middle of downtown.

It’s pretty common to find homes in the older part of Toronto being sold without dedicated parking because the homes were built before cars were ever a consideration. For many years, homeowners solved the problem by converting their lawns into front pad parking. The problem is that front pad parking comes with drainage issues, aesthetic problems (they’re ugly) and the fact that every new parking pad effectively removes at least one street parking spot.

There is currently a moratorium on new parking pads in the old city of Toronto. Homeowners outside the city can apply for permission to build a parking pad, but it often takes years.

Fun fact: You may buy a home with a licensed front parking pad, but the license does not follow the property. You’ll have to apply to have the license agreement transferred.

There are obvious benefits to having a parking spot, including not having to circle the block, hunting for a spot. As well, people feel it’s safer to park their car right by their house, but let’s be honest, if someone’s going to break into your car or steal it, a few steps either way isn’t going to deter them. Many years ago, I owned a house in prime Cabbagetown that had laneway access to parking and the car was broken into four times – so having a parking spot is no guarantee that your vehicle is safe!

How can buying a home or condo without parking save you money? Keeping in mind that most people own their homes or condos for 3-7 years; paying monthly for a parking spot is going to cost you far less than the actual cost of buying a parking space or the price differential between homes with or without parking. While it’s true that having a dedicated parking spot or two can add re-sale value and that having a house without parking can limit the people who will even come to see your house, it’s going to cost you more upfront, if not also in the long run.

According to MPAC, a house with a parking spot is valued at about 3% more than a home without one. And a condo will cost between $40K and $100K more with a parking spot, depending on the building and your neighbourhood. If your budget is stretched, are you going to get more use out of additional space or some pavement? In addition to the money for the parking spot in a condo building, your maintenance fees are also going to be higher, as much as $80-100 per month on average.

Street parking is available almost everywhere in the city and it’s only $300/yr, including HST. If you’re considering buying a home without parking, you should check with the city to make sure there isn’t a waiting list for that street. In that case, it’s possible to get a temporary permit for surrounding streets in your neighbourhood.

Many condos are being built with reduced amounts of parking. In fact, some new developments have no parking at all! Reducing the number of parking spots being built increases the cost per spot as the builders still have to dig – and the cost is spread out amongst fewer spots, making them more expensive.

The reality is that buying a property without a parking spot is less expensive in the long run and you can end up with extra money in your pocket when all is said and done. If you don’t own a car, it’s an easy decision. If you do own a car, you have to figure out your priorities and whether the convenience is worth it to you.

The main exception is if you’re buying a condo as an investment – condos with parking command higher rents and if the tenant doesn’t want the spot, you can rent it out for $100-$200 per month, maybe even more.

If you have any questions about the pros and cons about parking spots, please get in touch!


Market Surge: Listings Soar 47%

According to the most recent sales statistics from May, the listings to date for this year have been coming fast and furious. Considering the amount of choice available, there really isn’t a better time to be a buyer, if you’ve got the funding. There were 47% more listings available this April 2024 than there were last April and and in May that number was up another 21% year over year. Add to the mix that The Bank of Canada began decreasing the prime rate by ¼ point and that there are fewer buyers out there looking, it’s an excellent time to jump into the market.

Chances are, when the Bank of Canada lowers interest rates further as they are predicting, there is going to be a crush of buyers out there, and prices are only going to go higher.

Where are the buyers right now? I think it’s a bit of a mob mentality; people think ‘if nobody else is buying, why should I?’. The same thing happens sometimes with properties. A house can languish on the market for weeks without an offer, leaving buyers wondering what’s wrong with the house. But then someone makes an offer and all of a sudden, a second offer comes along.

Now that the numbers have come in for May, it’s no surprise that numbers were even more dramatic than they were in April – more listings and fewer buyers. The good news for sellers is that prices have remained fairly steady.

Sellers these days need to be a little patient. According to TRREB, the average number of days a property is on the market (YTD) is 24, which is high when you realize that it used to be under two weeks. However, the real number sellers should be aware of is Property Days on Market (PDOM), which is 35. What’s the difference? Realtors will often re-list a property at a different price so that it seems new and fresh, but the PDOM is a more accurate representation of how many days the property has been on the market.

That said, not everything is actually selling. In C08, only 20% of the listings were selling, which seems pretty low. There are more houses selling compared to condos, but it’s still quite low.

My advice: If you need the funds from a sale of a property to close on a new property (and most people do!) right now, you should absolutely be selling first. Because there’s so much inventory, if you sell your place and give yourself a 60-90 day closing, you should be able to find something you love within that period of time.

Where are prices headed? Not surprisingly, when the market stats were published at the beginning of June, there is a slight decline in the prices of most housing types, including condos. There’s still some downward pressure from increasing inventory and decreased buyer activity. A lot of new listings are one bedroom condos, and investors are concerned that the rent they’ll be getting will not be enough, or a mortgage renegotiation won’t be affordable. With the increase in available properties for sale and some seller’s timelines, there is definitely opportunity to negotiate a very attractive sale price.

My latest is an unusual home on St. Clarens. There’s an interesting story related to this home. I actually helped the seller buy the empty lot in 2014. Although the zoning only allowed for a width of eight feet, this was perfect, because his plan was to build a home with shipping containers, which are exactly eight feet wide! You can have a look here.


June 2024 Newsletter - Best Gelato in TO - 2 Great Listings- Luminato in the Square - 7 Most Iconic Buildings That Were Never Built

Don’t let the season’s longer days go to waste, make the most out of the weather and head out on some local adventures. June is Pride Month, and the best resource for what’s happening is the Pride Toronto website.

The Toronto Real Estate Board has released the numbers for May. We are seeing the same trends we’ve seen over the past few months; more listings on the market than this time last year, and fewer sales. Prices are down slightly compared to last year, with the exception of townhouses. There are definitely opportunities for buyers, especially for those who need more space!

As predicted, the Bank of Canada has reduced the key interest rate by .25%. I don't think this will have an immediate impact on the market, but it should give confidence to buyers that interest rates have peaked and are on the way back down, though we won't see the rates go as low as they were in 2020 and 2021.

Click here for the full newsletter


New property listed in Church-Yonge Corridor, Toronto C08

I have listed a new property at 1108 285 Mutual ST in Toronto. See details here

Rarely available, stylishly modified 2 bdrm, South west, corner suite at radioCITY Condos! Beautifully reno'd , well-maintained, recently painted & ready for your personal touches. Approx. 850sf, this city retreat is sun-soaked, soft-loft style w/ exposed concrete, 9' ceilings, xtra large expanded chef's kitchen, priv. prim. bdrm featuring 4-piece ensuite & lots of closet space, and oversized balcony w/ bbq gas line. 2nd bdrm is currently open concept & set up as office/den & can easily fit a Murphy bed. Don't miss the amazing amenities which include, 24-hr concierge, a 5-star gym & an entertainer's dream party room, kitchen, lounge, games room. If convenience is key, this location has it all being steps to groceries at Loblaws, transit, Eaton Centre, financial core, theatre, libraries, bars, restos and more. radioCITY Condos can't be beat!


New property listed in Dufferin Grove, Toronto C01

I have listed a new property at 138 St Clarens AVE in Toronto. See details here

Rarest of opportunities to own a one-of-a-kind, 3-storey, detached, signature residence. Custom built with a modern aesthetic, this is a super bright, very care-free, low maintenance home for a savvy investor. Currently set up as three separate apartments, each with its own entrance, this home is perfect for keen investors looking to generate solid income but can also be easily be converted to single-family with income from the basement apartment. Offering almost 1700sf, including the basement, this 5-year old home has all the conveniences; third floor deck, parking off the lane, gas boiler/on demand hot water heating system, 4-head heat pump with AC, proximity to shopping, transit, parks &schools.


Market Watch: Bank of Canada Hints at Rate Drop, Federal Changes for First-Time Homebuyers Unveiled

A lot has happened in the real estate market over the past few weeks, and the changes keep coming.

In April, not only did the Bank of Canada hold rates steady again, it indicated that an interest rate reduction was in the future cards. It will likely only be .25% when it happens – perhaps as early as June – but it would easily be enough to spur some people into action.

The federal government also released a budget and announced that starting on August 1, first-time homebuyers will be able to use up to $60,000 of their RRSPs for a downpayment (up from $35,000) and lenders will be able to offer them a 30 year amortization term as opposed to 25 years.

Will this have a major impact on the market? Probably not. The difference between monthly payments would be less than $250 on a $500,000 mortgage. However, it will help some first-time buyers enter the market, and that is definitely a good thing. Click here for more 

As for the market itself? March saw more of the same kinds of activity we’ve seen this year so far. We continue to see an abundance of new listings coming out and not as many sales. I rack this up to as potential buyers (investors and end users) wait for interest rates to drop. We’re definitely seeing this in the condo market more than the single-family home market.

In actual numbers:

In C08 (Yonge east to the Don Valley, Bloor to the Waterfront), there were 417 new listings in March and 128 sales, which is roughly only about 30%.

In C01 (Yonge west to the Dufferin rail tracks, Bloor to the Waterfront), the numbers were slightly higher – 757 listings with 256 sales, which means roughly 1/3 of the listings sold.

That may seem low, but even in the hottest market you’re lucky to see 60% of the homes listed actually sell. The number of properties being listed is lower than what’s being reported. I’m seeing listings being re-listed and refreshed, which skews the numbers. (Each time a property is re-listed, it counts as a new listing.)

What’s to come this spring?

I believe we’ll see a continued trend of more properties coming out on the market and fewer sales across the board. In specific sectors, we’ll see a higher percentage of single family homes selling, compared to condos.

Until interest rates come down, there won’t be a substantial change in activity levels even with the changes in the Federal budget.

I always like to highlight opportunities in the market. While it’s never good karma to take advantage of someone’s circumstances, there are deals to be had on condos. Some (though not many) sellers have to sell. There are definitely units that have been on the market for a while and are not getting traffic. When an offer comes along, the sellers are thankful to see it. It’s not desperation - people are just generally ready to negotiate because they want to get their property sold, especially if it has been on the market for so long.

I know buyers are waiting for interest rates to go down, but I don’t think it’s sunk in for buyers that this interest rate climate is probably the new normal for a while to come. We’re unlikely to see rates as low as they were in 2020 any time soon.

If you're curious about what's happening in your neighbourhood, please get in touch! 


April 2024 Newsletter: Best Fish & Chips in TO - Hot Docs Returns - How to Update a Bathroom Without Buying Anything New

Happy Spring... a time when we're re-energized, renewed and refreshed... and that includes my website. Take a peek at the revamped and let me know your thoughts!

Scroll down and I've got some market predictions, bathroom upgrade ideas, and places to find the best fish & chips... as well as some exciting new property offerings!

Also below, and despite a little controversy, Hot Docs is set to return at the end of April with a full range of programming, from a film about trans-trendsetter Jackie Shane to films about world politics, and the climate.

As for the market, the unseasonably warm weather this winter led to a busier-than-usual market in March, and with signs pointing to an interest rate reduction coming this year, we anticipate the spring market will continue to be busy as more listings are hitting the market each week!

Click here for the full newsletter


New property listed in Cabbagetown-South St. James Town, Toronto C08

I have listed a new property at 103 77 Maitland PL in Toronto. See details here

Welcome to Celebrity Place!! Stylishly renovated, 2 bedroom, 2 baths, "Garbo Suite" (851 Sq Ft as per builder plan) with an open concept modern kitchen, updated baths and an entertainer's dream living space with wood floors & walk-out to a massive private garden terrace. The private second bedroom is perfect for couples that desire a "work from home" alternative or those that wish to cost-share. The suite is flooded with the warmth of natural morning light. This is a very well run, secure and superbly cared for complex where convenience is key, being only steps to all the city has to offer. Transit, shopping, Loblaws, Farm Boy, Metro, Yonge & Bloor, Varsity theatres, parks, great restaurants... who could ask for more!


New property listed in Church-Yonge Corridor, Toronto C08

I have listed a new property at 706 155 Dalhousie ST in Toronto. See details here

Rare, west-facing Merchandise Building, one bedroom loft with stellar city views. Well maintained, recently painted and ready for you personal touches. An expansive sun-soaked suite with a raised private bedroom (with a ton of storage underneath) featuring massive concrete pillars, soaring ceilings and impressive barn doors. Don't miss the amazing amenities which include, 24-hr concierge, a 5-star gym & an entertainer's dream roof top terrace with BBQ's, party room, kitchen, indoor pool and dog-run. If convenience is a deciding factor in your next home, this location has it all being steps to groceries at the Metro, transit, Eaton Centre, TMU, financial core, theatre, libraries, restos and more. Merchandise Lofts can't be beat!


February 2024 Newsletter: Best 24-Hour Restaurants - Sugar Shack TO - Behind the Headlines: The Truth about Toronto’s 9.5% Property Tax Surge, TRESA Turmoil, and the Countdown to Interest Rate Announcements
We might be in the shortest month of the year, but the city is brimming with exciting upcoming events. One in particular to keep watch for is Sugar Shack TO... maple syrup enthusiasts unite!! And, if you’re a night owl, the city has got you covered with some fantastic 24-hour dining options.

The Bank of Canada chose to hold interest rates steady at the end of January, but even without a rate decrease, we're seeing more activity in the market, including a return to multiple offers because there are so few properties on the market. If you are considering making a move this year, now is the time to get started!

Click here for the full newsletter

New property listed in Church-Yonge Corridor, Toronto C08

I have listed a new property at 2309 281 Mutual ST in Toronto. See details here

Radio City! Fully Renovated "Right To The Studs", Modern, One Bedroom (Approx 600Sf) W/Locker And Expansive Sun Soaked East Lake Views, Oversized Balcony, High-End, Crisp White Kitchen With A Ton Of Storage. Ready For end of May Occupancy. Don't Miss The 5-Star Facilities Including stunning party room, lounge, billiards, Fitness Centre, 24Hr Security, Guest Parking & Guest Suites. Steps To Neighbourhood Shops & Ttc, & Minutes Away To Easy Access To The Dvp.


Toronto's Post-March Break Housing Surge: Will Listings Translate to Sales in the Spring Market?

In the first three days after March Break, the Toronto housing market was inundated with new listings. Will that translate into sales? We’ll have to wait until the March numbers are released, but one thing to keep in mind is that in February, the average single family home was on the market for 26 days, while the average condo took 41 days.

The spring market traditionally begins after Easter, but because we’ve had the warmest winter on record since 2009, house hunting has become more appealing and with the exception of March Break, it’s been a busy month!

One thing is for certain - there’s less emotion in the market than there was before, especially for condo buyers. Buyers are confident that they’ll find what they want. Last month there were about 4,400 condos on the market, including 2,237 that were listed in February.

There also doesn’t seem to be any sense of urgency around units that are usually in high demand which is adding the amount of time properties are staying on the market. Add to that, a lot of listings are being terminated and then relisted either at the same price or at a lower price which increases the "property days on market" even more.

The reason this is happening is people are still testing the market looking for a deal. When it comes to condos, if they are looking to purchase, they are being careful and waiting patiently for the right opportunity.

Case in point, a unit at the Massey Harris lofts (not my listing!). It shows beautifully and they don’t come up very often, but after three weeks, the price was lowered. It went from $1,149,000 to under $1M and as of this writing, it’s still on the market.

Single family homes are a different story. One thing I’m noticing is that so many sales are significantly over asking (like hundreds of thousands of dollars), which could partly be due to underpricing, but also people are expecting an interest rate drop and they’re trying to get ahead of the expected uptick in the market because of lowered rates.

I think when we get the March stats, we’ll see the price of condos remain fairly stagnant, but there will be price growth in the single family home market.

The media is also driving the market. If you read the headlines, you see things like “First-Time Buyers Are Bringing On Bidding Wars And Closing In On $1M Listings”

“What will Toronto's spring housing market look like? Experts say first-time buyers are back — and prices could jump 6% this year”

I often am asked when is the best time to make a move and my answer is always the same. You can try to strategize the market and time it perfectly, but it's rare that one ever hits the bottom or the top of the market. Those that succeed most in real estate, are those that ride allong the middle over time. Quite, honeslty, it always comes down to making a move at the time that’s best for you.

I can’t predict if there will be a substantial difference between what’s happening in the market now and what will happen later this spring. Even if the Bank of Canada decreases the interest rate, it’ll be a quarter of a percent, which will give people some positivity. It may drive a few buyers forward, but I don’t know whether it’ll be substantial.

If you’re curious about what’s selling in your neighbourhood or just want to talk real estate, give me a call!