Less is More

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Take this as a bit of how-to inspiration (maybe? hopefully?) geared to the buyer who really wants to live in Toronto, to enjoy what urban life offers—vibrant, amenity laden neighbourhoods, easy access to everything, including transit; of course ‘vibrant’, amenities galore directly correlates to price here in the city. Detached or semi your target? If you have a healthy budget, if you’re open to exploring neighbourhoods you perhaps hadn’t thought of it’s doable. For a price. Core area the target? Condo is the affordable, and for me preferred, way.

Location, location, location (I suspect you’ve heard that one); if you’re like me, while my physical home has always mattered as well, my neighbourhood, my community, my immediate world outside my home matters big time. Every single day I am energized, I feel a sense of freedom, I’m inspired by just stepping outside my building: there’s the skyline, the Tower, everything a walk or bike away and rather than sitting in my car (though I do love to drive) I’m walking through the city, with my fellow Torontonians. Corny as it may be it’s really how I feel.

When I decided to sell a large four bedroom house (not in Toronto so no, I’m not rich) and come home to the core I wanted to do it affordably, I wanted my ‘location’ to be in the heart of it all, the solution being to adopt a condo lifestyle, a one bedroom plus den downtown.

My name is Brad, I’m now officially in the less is more camp. Starting the downsize was tough, midway was a challenge but I was feeling good about making some headway, now I embrace it. I’m surrounded only by the things I love, no filler, just what brings me joy and what I need.

If you’re going small/smaller/smallest you need to make the reduced space work for you. I’m plugging away at that—this afternoon getting a design quote on my built-ins for a den/office space—it’s worth the investment to tailor a space to your life.

Smaller condos simply do not offer closet space. A front hall closet: so much wasted space, the rod was placed at the back, the front half would have to remain open so I could get to the coats; I moved the rod forward, installed shelving up the back wall, I now have floor to ceiling storage behind the coats.

I have one good-sized walk-in closet in the bedroom, offers surprisingly decent storage but now it’s much better with a second row of shelving higher up for those items I don’t often need, I LOVE this improvement. I’m also shopping for a platform bed frame with drawers beneath, every little bit. Admittedly I have a weakness when it comes to clothes, shoes, bedding….but I now have that upper shelving! 🙂

Kitchen: this is a place to make efficient use of your space, chances are it’s much smaller, mine certainly is. I ordered my custom island/breakfast bar (and stools) from DesignRepublic in Toronto, a great outlet to source interesting pieces in the city, I wanted hidden storage beneath for small appliances, platters, no clutter in a small kitchen.

Cabinetry: I found after two months my pantry wasn’t cutting it, all those items that live at the back die at the back. Gliding Shelf Solutions to the rescue, Canadian made pull out pantry shelving available in plastic and wood, I chose wood, sturdy, quiet, smooth, supports up to 100lbs per shelf, that should do it. Smart Shelving is an authorized dealer for the product, they did a clean efficient installation. This was well, well worth the investment, my pantry is as organized as it’s ever been (or will be…).

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Three shelves become four: slide out pantry shelving courtesy Gliding Shelf Solutions. Lifesaver!

Bathroom: of course small but I’m fine with that, I have a deep soaker tub, that’s the must-have for me. While I like the fixtures chosen by the builder there wasn’t enough thought to how people live so after contacting customer care to find out the brand name of the fixtures I ordered up additional. There is a small vanity but there was no medicine cabinet, not nearly enough storage—there are times to spend to really make your home your own but in this case I managed a budget friendly find for the bathroom: a high lacquer contemporary cabinet from IKEA, looks great, offers more than enough storage, $110. While we’re in the bathroom…when you’re buying new push for any changes to the unit you feel you want—minor disappointment for me: I wanted a different bathroom floor tile, it was already in place, we were getting other upgrades so that one did not go our way. Small bathroom, not a great expense to change, and it will be changed.

I’ve just had the whole unit painted (no builder basic white for me, and the quality of builder paint is terrible), my TV mounted, all unsightly wires hidden in the wall, it will soon be time to dress that balcony for spring, my balcony with the perfect view: my downtown Toronto skyline and that Tower.

A downtown life can be done affordably, for me it’s the perfect way to live. If it’s what you’re looking for please feel free to reach out anytime for pointers, I’m a condo convert, a downtown Torontonian at heart, I’m more than happy to connect.

For instance, currently you’d find a 1+1 bedroom condo at Distillery District, with a storage locker (must-have for me) listed at $420,000. Food for thought…. 🙂

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LOVE at Distillery District, right next door to my home…happiness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spy…2017

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What does the future hold? Well, I certainly don’t know, mine nor yours. What does the future hold for Toronto real estate in 2017? I have a better idea there…

No need to recount the heat of the market, we all know, those of you buying who’ve missed out in bidding wars know all too well, including clients of mine though we won in the end!

Some of you might find this a bit dry but it’s the kind of information we like clients to be aware of, to seek out, to consider. Real estate can be emotional, in Toronto absolutely, it’s also a numbers game; as we say, knowledge is power, it can help with the emotional rollercoaster.

If you really want to dig in, if you’re feeling studious, take a look at the Royal LePage report providing insight into various markets across Canada—the last quarter of 2016 was particularly strong in Toronto, the GTA and the GTHA (Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area); we anticipate the same carrying into 2017.

In Toronto we’re seeing homes early in January selling 14%, 16%+ over asking. Condos in Toronto are expected to make a price leap too: with the desire to live downtown, the urban lifestyle, key of course is the greater affordability of condos and the new mortgage rules last fall impacted some Toronto buyer situations.

If a condo is on your radar:

—last fall there was a 22% increase in condo sales

—prices up 10% over the previous year

—80% of pre-construction condos across the GTA were pre-sold by the end of the third quarter last fall.

I made the downtown condo move myself in 2016—I love it, absolutely, whole heartedly, 100%, can’t say enough about it.

If you aren’t married to Toronto, if a detached home is what you’re after and Toronto’s $1.3mil average price is out of reach (up a staggering 25+% year over year) you’re likely already aware of the shift to Hamilton. Prices, on average, rose 14.5% last year, with that price standing at $445,000 you can see the appeal and with the increase continuing apace you can see the appreciation too (if it’s a consideration, I have a trusted partner in Hamilton, just ask)

What’s in store for 2017? Selling? You’re in a great position. And with an attentive, dedicated realtor, strong marketing, an even better great position 🙂

Buying? You need to be ready. Have your financing in place, know your non-negotiables i.e. your must-haves in a home or condo and find a realtor you’re comfortable with, who knows the areas, one who really wants to support you in your home buy—that relationship can be key.