Howard's blog

Toronto Condos

Oddly, half my sales this year have been in Liberty Village. Every day I was going to Bliss (55 East Liberty) until I got in big trouble for sneaking into unoccupied floors and the builder banned me from the building. I have still been able to successfully sell many units there by sending my brother to do showings on my behalf. The irony kills me. The building that I'm selling the most in currently is the one I'm not allowed into. 55 East Liberty is very well priced for now and is in ideal location for many. I can't understand how anyone would buy in Can Alphas new development when 55 East Liberty is so much cheaper as an assignment and is exactly the same product. Buyers also do not need to wait for 55 East Liberty. It is ready now. In almost all of the current market assignments/resale fall cheaper then builder product and are a better investment for the record. Compare prices before you buy and consult an expert!

On the other hand Connect condos by Urban Corp looks much better than I expected. The finishes are actually quite high end as opposed to their past buildings and the building is quite nice. I think Connect will be significantly nicer than Westside lofts by Urban Corp. Assignments are not allowed on MLS at Connect/Bridge but there are many kicking around. The price per square foot is also very low here for now


Toronto sandwhiches and lunch

Every day on my break before showings I get to experience some of Torontos best sandwhiches. I love The fish store on College. They charge 7 bucks for any grilled fish of my choice. It is delicious, quick and healthy. G-D bless! Paramount on Dundas/Yonge is also phenomenal. I actually think that they have the best chicken in the city and I consider the prices to be basically free! G-D bless! Although not cheap I also love Zoes Cafe on King. They have the best salads and lunch in my opinion in the city. Their salads use a variety of vegetables and foods that I'd never dream of buying. They change their menu weekly and they have a patio overlooking King/Spadina which makes for great people watching.


A bit of nothing

It's been a little while since I've written anything as I just got a new computer and I had to upload new software. To my own suprise a couple of people actually read my blog so I think I'll keep adding content. I actually really like blogging and have unique insite on the city as I experience downtown every day in a way most people dont have the resources to. I'll continue to blog about food, drink and of course condos.


Toronto condo outdoor pools

5 Years ago we had very few outdoor pools to go to in summer time except The Raddison on Queens Quay where they used to allow people to pay to get in to the pool. It was a bit of a party as they serve alcohol there but residence from the condo side complained and they've since stopped allowing the public access. The older buildings 10 Queens Quay/10 Yonge and 725/705 King also have outdoor pools. For me being at the pool is a necessary part of summer and thank g-d over the last 5 years the outdoor pool situation has changed with the proliferation of condos. I also happen to prefer outdoor pools to indoor as I don't swim laps but I love the sun. More recently (about 6 yrs) Waterclub condos was built with an indoor/outdoor pool. The pool has an amazing resort feel overlooking the lake. Unfortunately the sun is blocked by a building at Three oclock. The Thompson hotel/condo has a pool on the roof. It has a bar and restaurant and a stellar view. The nice thing about the thompson is you can eat and drink while you're there. The negatives are it has a very snobby feel. Half the pool has reserved sections and it's very difficult to get space. The other negative is the Thompson pool does not face the sunniest of directions. All that being said it is a ton of fun and feels very exclusive if you like that sort of thing. My favorite pool is at Cityplace's Luna condo. While it draws a bit of an extreme party crowd it has sun all day. It doesn't feel snobby whatsoever. I hang out there on weekdays whenever it's sunny. Maple Leaf Square condos also have an outdoor and indoor pool. The outdoor pool at Maple Leaf doesnt have the same party feel as Luna or the exclusive feel of Thompson but overall it has lots of sun and is relaxed.


The urbanization of Toronto started with condos has now moved to coffee

10 Years ago there were several Starbucks and Timothys, and very few Tim Hortons. Over the next 5 yrs Tim Hortons took over and start popping up everywhere. The chains were the only options we have. In the last 2 yrs there have been a multitude of gourmet coffee places opening. U can now buy a high end lattee on every corner of the dowtown street. It makes the city feel more like a city to me and makes my coffee drinking much more pleasurable (and expensive). Dark horse has opened a few locations in the last couple years. Dark horse makes a perfect latte! Many 1 offs have also opened up. Balzacs has been around for a while and has a few locations but I prefer the taste of most of the other places some how. Coiff, Green beanery, Lit and tons of other independent places pop up every week. I'm amazed that all these places popped up over the last 2 yrs (besides Balzaks). Gourmet Burger places like hero burger, Kraft burger have also only started opening in the last 2 yrs. Clearly Toronto is quickly turning into a higher end, more urbanized city in a hurry and I'm no longer stuck having the same coffee/burger everyday.


The urbanization has even spread to night clubs

It's not that I go out that much. I work Saturdays and Sundays and don't really like waking up exhausted with a headache. One thing I notice however when I do go out is that the night clubs are not the same. There are no more cheesy monster dance clubs and there are way less low end bars. The Docks club is gone, Devils martini is a lounge, My apartment is closed, Most of Richmond street nightclubs (for those of you who remember whiskey saigon and Level) are closed down. Schmooze is closed. Even Musik is almost all Vip sections now. The only bar left really is Crocodile Rock. The whole city is now lounges and VIP. We're urbanizing folks.


Assignment prices

I figure I should talk about Condos since I am the Condoman and all I've spoken about is food and drink so far. The sh-t has finally hit the fan. The preconstruction investors in high end buildings have not been able to sell their preconstruction investments for a profit. Ive been foreseeing this for years. Sellers either did not assign or lost money/broke even. At Film Festival Tower prices are just too high. There have been about 5 assignments done at a profit and about 90 left unsold. At M5V only about 3 units were successfully assigned. There is just not enough demand at $700/sq ft to sell units. There will be more and more examples of this going forward as sites got more and more expensive. M5V owners will have a hard time assigning for a profit and same goes for almost anyone buying preconstruction today in the high-end building. Now, this is not true of every building. There are still several buildings that are $450-500/sq ft where I feel buyers will still make money. The moral of the storey is two fold. #1 don't buy preconstruction blindly thinking youll make a profit no matter what. Compare to resale prices first. #2 be ready to get a mortage. Do not expect that your investment will just assign.


The new treb districts

What is up with this??? When did Liberty village become the Niagara region and the entertainment district become Toronto's waterfront??? I now have to click 3 more times to do the exact same search I've been doing for 10 yrs. If I want to change my search and resubmit now I cant do it I have to start the whole search over again. This is officially the dumbest thing Treb has done since I've been involved in real estate and it took them months to do it. They should at least have asked an expert in a district (me in c01 for example) to categorize the districts. Liberty village, waterfront, cityplace, Bay street would have made sense. Not only that I lost all the clients I had put on auto-email for no reason at all. Nice work Treb!!


Harmonious living downtown

It's been a little while since I've written anything but I think it's time. It amazes me everyday how in downtown all communities live mostly harmoniously. The arabic, jewish, chinese, irish, Indian, greek and really all commmmunities live together in one place with almost no racial or religious prejudice. In the 13 yrs I've been here Ive yet to see any discrimination or arguments over differences in background and it is truly amazing. Communities have mixed, intergrated, done business together and dated. I feel that we be hardpressed to see this level of harmony anywhere in the world. It is truly a beautiful thing.


Condos 2012

I've been hearing the same thing every day for a while now. The markets going to crash. Is this the right time to buy? I read this in Macleans, bla bla bla. Here's the deal. First any article that analyses the Toronto market as a whole is full of crap. The market is not the same in every area/district nor building. Downtown is not the same as Thornhill. Cityplace is not the same as Liberty Village, etc. Every area has it's own potential and it's own individual growth curve as does every building and different styles of units within each building. Don't put much belief in generalist articles. What you need is expertise in the area you own in/ are buying in or contemplating buying in. The dowtown Market is in good shape overall. The problem areas are high-end buildings. Buildings like Film festival tower, M5V and others where they average over $700/sq foot excluding yorkville are the buildings where I would not want to own in. The high-end of the market is coming out with tons of supply without anywhere near enough demand. In 2011 roughly 35 unit were sold at over 1 mil bucks in c01 excluding Yorkville. I'm making this up but maybe 75 units sold at over $700/sq foot resale or assignment in 2011. There are many/many luxury buildings in Toronto coming on line. Besha, Aura, film festival tower and basically any new project being launched outside of Liberty Village/Cityplace. Who is going to buy this product? Two things drive the condo market affordability and lifestyle. At a certain price point affordability is taken out of the mix. This is the point where your number of buyers become limited and your unit becomes hard to sell. Couple are mostly still choosing to live in houses when they,re having kids. THis competes with the high end condo market and is what makes it a tough sell. Until more couples with kids choose a condo lifestyle affordable condos will be the way to go for investment. Where is it good to invest right now? Liberty village is extremely affordable (around $475/sq ft)and has tons of places around. You will make money here (obviously as long as you buy within reason) in my opinion. There will be many assignments coming this yr at Liberty Village at excellent prices. I feel strongly that this is the place to invest in the short term as prices are lower than almost anywhere else and the area is more or less developed. Overall any buildings that are in the lower price/sq ft in the market I feel are going to continue to grow in price because demand exceeds supply. So Cityplace, the Richmond, etc. etc. will continue to appreciate. The only real issue in the dowtown real estate market are overpriced buildings where there is way less demand than supply. [[


Living in Liberty

Ive recently moved to Liberty Village after being at Cityplace for 10yrs (yes Cityplace has been around for 10 yrs and so have I!). At first I was apprehensive about moving. I was afraid that I'd feel removed from the city and wouldn't feel the "vibe" when I got home. I have really been enjoying Liberty Village. There is way more to do within a 5 min walk from Liberty Village than there is from Cityplace although Cityplace has more stuff to do within 15 min. For example within 2 mins of me theres Aroma, Williams Landing, Starbucks, Lotus loungs, Raw Sushi and even a goodlife gym I can walk to. Whereas near cityplace there was really only Liberty Shwarma to eat at and the Sobeys. On the other hand I could walk to the financial and entertainment district in under 15 mins from Cityplace which I can no longer do from Liberty. Taxis are equivalent in price and time (due to less east traffic) however to get to the core as is driving. Liberty village also has a slightly more mature vibe then Cityplace (in particular the west side) which is possibly a good change. Overall my transition has been really good and I reccomend Liberty Village as an alternative to being right in the center for everyone. [[


Agents that dislike Cityplace listing at Cityplace

Twice in recent months I've seen agents that constantly slam cityplace on their popular blogs list properties in Cityplace. Both times grossly underpricing the units and lowering property values. Why would the public list with an agent that hates the building they live in? I don't get it. Agents, if you don't like a property and constantly slam it then don't sell here. Thank you


Yet again the state of the Toronto Condo market

The Toronto Condo Market continues to expand its supply and its demand. I categorize the Toronto market into 2 categories. One which is preconstruction. The other which is resale. Preconstruction has become pricier than resale in the last few years and is becoming more and more of a challenge to find value in. There are a few developments that I can still recommend but there are really not a lot. I don't recommend anything over $650/sq ft on average unless it's in Yorkville. I also recommend comparing prices with the resale market before buying preconstruction. Often You'll be suprised at how much more expensive preconstruction can be. Gone are the days when you can just buy anything and make money. I have some very solid preconstruction investments but they are very few and far between. Feel free to email me and we can set up a meeting. The resale/assignment market I still feel has some really good investments in particular in Liberty village and Cityplace. Some of the buildings are really nice, in great locations but well under $475/sq ft. You can actually make money on rent with 20% down in these buildings. Again, I'm not comfortable with higher end buildings like Film festival tower or Shangrilla. Unless you're planning on living there for a while the rents don't carry and they are extremely slow to sell. Purchasing demand in the higher price ranges are largely taken up by houses. Overall Toronto is really flourishing as a metropolitain city. Our financial centre is flourishing. The world seems to have more confidence as of late financially then any US city. We have more urban coffee, buritos and burgers than I can keep track of. A new high end restaurant pops up everyday in the core. Our condominiums are second to none in the world. Even Madonna has decided to open a gym here (which she's only opened 4 in the world). We've come a long way and we keep getting better and better as a city. Traffic to get to the city and various parts of the city keep getting worse and worse. All this can only lead me to believe that the demand to live here, in particular downtown, will continue to grow and in the long term real estate prices will grow with it. The future of Toronto excites me as do the future of our real estate prices. Hopefully my prediction holds true...


Some new positive changes at Cityplace

As of late Ive been considering a move back to Cityplace. While I do love Liberty Village there are some recent Cityplace developments that I really like. I've been enjoying Hunters landing. Good meeting place, good hang out place and I like the food. What I really like is their delivery service in this weather though. When its freezing the best thing in the world is to be able to have food come to me. Starbucks is opening under Brunel court which Im really happy about. Not that starbucks is my favorite by any means but it certainly beats Spot (sorry) that is the only coffee place at Cityplace currently. Lastly, theyve opened some new gyms in the area I like. You may be seeing me back in the hood in the near future..


My move to Maple Leaf Square

As some of you know I recently made the move from Liberty Village to what I would describe as "a baller pad" at Maple Leaf Square. Why Maple Leaf Square? Well, here are the things I like: an outdoor pool, not going outside in winter, a gym, a central location and a view. This condo filled most of these needs with a Good Life and the city connected to the path, a brilliant Longos connected from inside and an outdoor pool. Where the building falls short is in the elevator/ parking department. I am on the 53rd floor and as nice as my view is I am an unfortunate, long way down. But more unfortunately there are 2 elevators to get to parking. Even more unfortunate the parking garage is shared with parking for the ACC. When there's a game I can pretty much forget going home.... Overall its still been a good experience. I've avoided much of the freezing winter and have a beautiful suite. I also feel strongly that PATH buildings will grow in value.


Toronto Winters

What is going on with this weather. The last 2 yrs have been unruly cold. I think that we live in one of the best cities in the world except winter. This is why I the feel the PATH buildings and PATH will grow in popularity. If people dont have to go outside in winter. Well, they won't. Thankfully this brutal winter's about to come to an end.


Homes

Its very frustrating to me that while I am an expert on Toronto homes (at least from beaches to etobicoke). Many clients dont realize this and end up finding another agent when they're ready for a home. Guys, if I'm not familiar with an area and don't want to venture out there I'll let you know and refer you. But when is time for a home let me know and we can have an open discussion.


Even the condoman can have trouble finding a condo

Although I love my place in Maple Leaf square Ive now sold it for a significant profit and I'm looking for my next place. Easier said then done even for the Condoman! First of all it's a downsize so nothing is ever as nice. 2nd Ive gotten used to living connected to the path/etc and its hard to lose the convenience. 3rd Im struggling between buying a deal vs something I really like. Interestingly, all the struggles that my clients have Im having as well. Ill keep you posted... © 2011 - Condoman Realty Inc. Brokerage