Toronto: Metropolitan Haven in the Great White North

A strong economy and a growing market for foreign investment has placed Toronto among the most sought-after destinations for buyers.

By Stacey Staum

Toronto skyline

Over the past several years, Toronto has seen unprecedented growth in its high-end real estate market. While Canada as a whole did not feel the full brunt of the global recession in 2008, the luxury market has soared to new heights in the years since.

Sam McDadi, broker and owner of Sam McDadi Real Estate Inc., explains, “This is our best year ever. The number of luxury homes that have sold are higher and the prices are holding or going up.”

Toronto’s strong economy is partially responsible for this unprecedented growth, and is bolstered by a variety of industries within the city itself. According to McDadi, “Toronto is not a one-industry-based city. There are a multitude of opportunities, which makes for a successful long-term economy. Calgary suffered when oil prices plunged. We don‘t see that kind of ebb and flow, so we see a slow and steady growth in our market.” For McDadi, anything at the $2 million and over price point qualifies as a luxury property in the Toronto area and in neighboring Mississauga, where his luxury brokerage thrives.

Toronto has gained an impressive reputation as one of the best places in the world to live. McDadi explains, “A lot of people aren’t as familiar with Toronto but it’s really become a world-class city with many amenities. There’s a low crime rate, people get along harmoniously and it’s always voted among the top three cities in the world to live in.”

The Toronto area appeals to a wide demographic of buyers, and according to McDadi, “the profile can be a younger family or an executive couple drawing a good income. Buyers could be on their second or third home. They also could be someone coming from abroad, making Toronto their home.” McDadi notes an influx of buyers from Asia and the Middle East contributing to the already strong market.

Toronto’s motto, which appears on the city’s coat of arms, is “Diversity: Our Strength.” With respect to the expansion of foreign investment in the area, this slogan has never been more accurate. A growing number of foreign investors have made an indelible mark on the Toronto luxury real estate world.

Ferne Sherkin-Langer and Nina Castle, brokers of Harvey Kalles Real Estate, Limited,  “have determined that what seems to be a driving force of the market is there are a lot of Asian buyers. There’s a huge amount of foreign investment, as Toronto has been named one of the top places in the world to live. A lot of foreign buyers want to live here and invest here. They’ll buy a property and rent it out, or their families come and live in Canada.”

Another desirable quality of Toronto is the variety of pricing options within the city and surrounding areas. Sherkin-Langer states that the “price range is really wide in general. We typically sell houses between $1.5 million and $5 million. The focus of the luxury market is somewhere between $5 million to $7 million, with the meat of the market between $3.5 million to $5.5 million.” Sherkin-Langer and Castle currently have a property listed for $9.88 million, which reflects the upper echelon of Toronto’s market; only nine current listings in the area are offered for over $10 million.

Within the scope of Toronto’s high-end price range, a number of amenities are desirable to buyers. According to Sherkin-Langer, buyers look for multi-car garages, large wall spaces to hang expensive art and home automation systems. An indoor pool is especially desirable, as they can be used year-round, specifically during Toronto’s long winters. Sherkin-Langer and Castle note the Bayview Village and York Mills neighborhoods as prime locations for the most luxurious homes in the Toronto area.

Expectations are high for the future of Toronto’s luxury market. Sherkin-Langer shares that the current market is the “strongest market we’ve had in the history of real estate in the area.” With luxury real estate market trends continuing their upward climb, Toronto’s reputation as a foremost residential location is growing around the world.