This week I helped a young couple purchase their first home, a detached bungalow in the Briar Hill – Belgravia area. Without going into the specific financial details of their purchase, I'll say that they got the home for below the $325,000 price point (this includes purchase price + approx $5000.00 in reno's that they'll do prior to move-in). We’re talking a fully detached house with a living room, separate dining room, large master bedroom, and a 2nd bedroom on the main level... plus a family room, 2nd bathroom and 3rd bedroom on the lower level... plus front pad parking and a great backyard. All for under $325,000!
Can you really find something that affordable in Toronto? Yes, you can... but you have to know where to look and you have to be willing to invest some sweat equity and a few $$$ down the line to maintain/update the property as needed. You’re not going find such a home in Little Italy or the Annex. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find a decent freehold home under the $350,000 mark unless you’re willing to venture north of Eglinton (if you want to stay central) or into the western (generally defined as west of Dufferin) or eastern (generally defined as east of the DVP) areas of the city.
If you want something located in the downtown core then you’ll be shopping for a condo, it’s that simple. Of course you can go the route of a condo townhouse, which offers something of a compromise between condo and house, sort of. But here you’ll only be getting approx 800-900 sq ft and you’ll still have people living directly below and next to you. You will get a rooftop terrace (up to a few hundred sq ft in size), but certainly nothing that compares to a real backyard.
The choice between house and condo generally boils down to two dichotomies: location vs. size and no maintenance living vs. hands on maintenance living. I work with a number of buyers where this issue is a no-brainer – they want to be downtown where the action is and they don’t want to lift a finger when it comes to maintenance. And they’re more than willing to give up square footage for these luxuries. Of course, I also work with buyers where the opposite is true.
I helped another couple purchase a bungalow in the Old East York area earlier this year (note: the bungalows here are valued more in the $375,000-and-up range). These buyers started out considering both condos and freehold homes. After exploring what was available on the condo market in their price range they decided, for many of the reasons described above, that a bungalow home outside of the downtown core was the right choice for them. Yes, it needed a bit of work to bring it up to a level they're happy with. And if anything goes wrong down the line (roof repairs, plumbing issues, etc), it'll be their responsibility (as opposed to the property management company in a condo). For them though, this trade-off was well worth it and they're very happy with their purchase.
Needless to say, each buyer has their own hierarchy of criteria and it's this ordering of wants and needs that will determine whether a condo or a bungalow is the way to go.
If you’re thinking of making a move but aren’t sure what your budget will get you in the condo market and/or the bungalow market, feel free to contact me for more info.