Craving Condos

Torontonians are crazy for condos. Last month there were 2,361 condominium sales in the GTA, an increase of 25% from the previous July.

While sales of all housing types have been robust throughout the past couple months, condominium transactions are making a stronger contribution to the big picture than ever before. In little more than a decade condo sales have gone from comprising a quarter of all GTA resale transactions to accounting for almost one in every three homes that changes hands. In central Toronto, condominiums now represent 60% of resale transactions.

As a result of the condo boom, the population of downtown Toronto grew by 10% in the last five-year census period, representing the largest five-year population increase in the core throughout the last 30 years. And there’s more to come. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts rose in the Toronto area by 10% in June from the previous month, to 24,000 units. This can mainly be attributed to condominiums, as multi-family developments were up 15% from the prior month.

The popularity of condominiums has skyrocketed because they appeal to people from so many different walks of life. Toronto welcomes nearly 100,000 newcomers to Canada each year from countries like India and China, where high-rise living is the norm. As such, Toronto’s condo market is a natural fit. Well-educated young adults who are on a career path also see condo living as an affordable and convenient option, given its proximity to business and city life. Indeed, many from the twenty- and thirty-something age groups choose developments that reflect their personality. Whether you’re a media buff, into retro chic or have a penchant for fine art, there’s a Toronto condo designed specifically with your needs in mind.

Empty nesters and those who purchase property around the globe are also drawn to Toronto condos, given their spectacular architecture and luxurious features. Even if you’re not drawn to this housing type, our new vertical city has an economic benefit to all GTA residents. It obviously benefits housing-industry-related professions, but it also has a positive impact on a number of other sectors. In fact, according to a study by the Canadian Real Estate Association, one out of every 100 jobs depends on spending associated with resale housing transactions, on things like renovations, furniture and appliances. This study also found that the average resale housing transaction in Ontario generates more than $47,000 in economic spin-offs. Even the smallest businesses benefit from condominium communities, which provide a steady stream of clientele to their ground-floor shops.

New housing units also put additional funds into the City’s coffers through property taxes. And intensification offers the opportunity to improve, rather than disperse, city services like transit, waste removal and recreation facilities. As the fifth-most populous urban centre in North America — behind Mexico City, New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago — Toronto is growing up, both literally and figuratively, as it matures into a world-class city.

Tom Lebour is president of the Toronto Real Estate Board, a professional association that represents 28,000 Realtors in the GTA.

Excerpt from the Toronto Sun – Jan 29,2010

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