What Is The Cost Of Parking In Toronto?

There’s an interesting contradiction here: as more and more Torontonians are ditching their cars in an effort to cut back on costs, the price of parking is actually increasing in houses and condos!

How does that make sense?

Whether you live in a condo with underground parking, or in a house with front pad, mutual, right of way, private drive, or garage, you have to consider just exactly what your type of parking costs, and how it affects the value of your home.

Oh – and just for fun, let’s segue into bad parking jobs, if only for a moment.  It’s Friday, after all…

ParkingCar

Have you got your cards yet?

I have!

I ordered them in stacks of one-hundred.

And if I saw somebody park the way the car has been parked in the photo above, I’d have no problem leaving one of these on their windshield:

BadParkingCards

HA!

You have to admit, it’s witty and creative.

There are entire websites dedicated to terrible parking jobs, and notes that are left on people’s cars.

This is my favourite, by far:

BadParking1

Jokes aside, I wanted to talk about the cost of parking in Toronto these days, I’m not referring to the City of Toronto raising the cost of tickets!

CONDOS

You might think that all parking is the same in condominiums, but it’s not.  Not even close.

Some parking spaces are “owned,” and some are “exclusive use.”

You might not even know the difference.  Some people live in a condo and park underground every night for five years, but have no clue that they don’t actually OWN the space.

An owned parking space is one that has a legal title, and can be bought and sold, like a condominium unit, or a locker.  You can look up the legal title in Land Registry, and it can be registered on a mortgage along with the condominium and locker, if applicable.

An exclusive use condo is exactly that: you can use it, exclusively, but you don’t actually own it.  Think about your balcony, and how you don’t own it.  You own your condo – the interior, but you don’t own the balcony.  It belongs to the condo, as “common elements,” and you have exclusive use of it.  A parking space can work the same way.

An exclusive use parking space cannot be bought and sold, so you might argue that it has less value.

But at the end of the day, if an owned parking space allows you to park underground every night, and an exclusive use parking space allows you to park underground every night, then some might argue that the value proposition is the same.

And who sells a parking space anyways?

At $30,000, it’s very difficult to sell a parking space.  As a buyer, you can’t add the deed to this parking space, at $30,000, to your existing mortgage for your condo, at, say, $300,000.

To purchase a parking space, you need cash.  Most, if not all parking space sales are facilitated via cash transactions, and thus it is often very hard to sell a parking space.

So for those people that fail to differentiate between and “owned” parking space in a condo, and an “exclusive use” parking space in a condo, I’d have a hard time disagreeing if you opined that the space is not as valuable as one would think.

When it comes to houses, and freehold properties, it’s a whole different story…

HOUSES

The lowest form of freehold parking, to be perfectly honest, is no parking.

How many MLS listings have you seen that specify “parking,” only to read the fine print and see that the listing broker considers the phrase “street parking available” to mean actual parking?

We all know that in the city of Toronto, at least as it stands before the Fall 2014 Municipal election, you can park your car on the city street for a nominal fee (around $12/month), and do without any sort of “legal” or “owned parking.”

As far as actual, legal, “owned” parking goes, the most very basic form of parking is the ever-adventurous “mutual drive.”

The “mutual drive” parking can mean a lot of things.

It can mean ZERO parking, or it can mean actual parking for one car.

It can also mean that there is a teenie-tiny 7-foot-wide driveway that runs between the two houses, where, in 1906, a Model-T Ford was able to drive between the two structures.

If you owned a Mini Cooper, you’d be able to claim, “I have parking.”

But failing that, you simply have a mutual driveway, that runs between the two houses, which the listing agent marketed as “owned parking” with no liability or recourse.

There are, however, some mutual driveways that actually do provide owned parking.

Some driveways in Toronto are wide enough that a Hummer can get between them, and then it’s up to the individual owner as to where, and how, to park.

I’ve seen houses where the owner literally parks the car smack-dab in the middle of the backyard.

That’s “one car parking,” according to the listing.  Sometimes, it’s even falsely marketed as “private drive,” even though it’s nothing of the sort.

Many mutual driveways are wide enough for today’s average car to drive through (with or without folding the mirrors in…), after which the owner simply parks the car where the “right of way” ends.  The driveway itself often has a “right of way” so that both home-owners can use it, but the right-of-way ends once you pass the back of the house itself.  So rather than continue driving right into the backyard and up against the property line, many mutual driveways simply end at the right of way, and more often than not, there’s a garage there, or at least once upon a time, there was one.

That marker basically says “park your car here,” and sometimes you can’t look past the car itself to see the small patch of grass that you call your “yard.”

I’ve seen people build 9-foot fences, slanted diagonally, to block out the fact that their car is parked on a sliver of their property line that doesn’t infringe upon their glorious patch of green sod.

To each, their own.

But one step up from the mutual driveway, be it a real drive, a fake drive, or a drive that encourages you to run over your children’s sandbox – is the “front pad parking.”

Be weary, folks.  Be very weary.

If you see a car parked in front of a house, you’d better make damn sure that it’s legal.

Click HERE to start searching, via the City of Toronto, if a given house has an actual LEGAL front parking pad.

Many parking pads that you drive by on a day-to-day basis are actually illegal!

After all – what’s to stop somebody from just driving their car up over the curb, and parking on what used to be the front lawn?

Just because you replaced the grass with stone, concrete, or asphalt, doesn’t mean that your “parking” is legal, as defined by the City of Toronto!

If you’re an active buyer in today’s market – check the front porch to see if there’s a small plaque that refers to LEGAL front pad parking.  If there isn’t, then click the link above and see what’s what.

There’s very little to stop today’s listing agents from saying “1” parking space on the MLS listing, but leaving the onus on the buyer to identify exactly what “1” refers to.

Last, but certainly not least, we have the holy grail of parking: the private driveway.

The private driveway is exactly as you would expect from the description: it’s yours, and only yours, and the land is part of your property, and on title.

There is no right of way (unless specified) as with a mutual driveway, and it’s yours to do with as you please.

In some areas, private driveways are the norm.

Consider Rosedale, and how many houses do not have a private driveway.  Some homes have extra-wide mutual driveways, that allow you to park in your backyard, but that’s often looked upon as a poor man’s driveway, as would be a smaller home with front-pad parking.

Oh, the humanity!!!  Just imagine!

That’s Rosedale, of course, and we’re grading on a curve.

A house on Logan Avenue sold last week in Riverdale, which had an exceptionally rare private driveway, that fit two cars, plus a garage.  This house sold for $200,000 over the asking price, and I have to think that in addition to the renovated interior, and rare side yard, the private driveway had a LOT to do with the price that was paid.

Had this home not had a private driveway, what would the house have sold for?

Well that’s the very question we’re asking today: what is parking WORTH?

In some areas, a private driveway is worth $50,000.

Likewise, in some downtown Toronto condominiums, an underground parking space can cost $50,000, either through the developer in pre-construction, or on the resale market.

It’s not out the question to suggest that a $3-5 Million house in Forest HIll or Rosedale might be worth $200,000 more or less, depending on the parking situation.

That seems like a lot of money when you consider that the City of Toronto has raised $40 parking tickets to $60, and has now authorized tow-trucks to haul away cars that have three or more parking tickets outstanding.

So while you guys are trying to figure out what a parking space is worth in Toronto in 2014, I’d better go move my car.

Ah well.  At least the city is putting that revenue to good use.

Right…….?

20 Comments

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  2. Jonathan says:

    Given the sheer number of mutual driveways in Toronto, I feel like there should be an extra line in the MLS form for explaining what exactly is the deal with the driveway in question. Some possible scenarios:

    1. The houses are set far enough back from the sidewalk that 1 car can park in front
    1a. Scenario 1 + some sort of agreement to take turns
    1b. Scenario 1 + neighbour has no car
    1c. Scenario 1, except the grading/landscaping makes it impossible to actually get out of the car so really you have nothing

    2. The driveway is passable, but the neighbour illegally built a fence at the end, so you can park in the back if you take them to court
    2a. The driveway is passable, but you will have to remove your own fence to do so
    2b. A previous owner built an extension to the back of the house that goes past the right of way, so you can’t park in the back even with the driveway

    1. Kyle says:

      From what i’ve seen, 28.5 feet seems to be the magic number. If a detached house with a mutual driveway is on a lot less than 28.5 feet, then a normal car will not fit between the houses. 28.5 to 30 feet seems to be the minimum lot width required to be able to drive between the houses.

      1. Jonathan says:

        Nah, that’s way too high – it all depends on house width, and most driveways are technically passable. Our semi is on a 17′ 10″ lot, with the house being 14′ wide and our half of the mutual driveway clocking in at 3’10”. The driveway is thus a grand total of 7′ 8″ wide (that’s 92 inches) which is enough to fit a mid-size sedan or compact SUV. You just have to have a good eye and balls of steel…

  3. Kyle says:

    “There’s an interesting contradiction here: as more and more Torontonians are ditching their cars in an effort to cut back on costs, the price of parking is actually increasing in houses and condos!

    How does that make sense?”

    I think it has to do with a few things: 1. People in the city may be using their cars less, but they don’t want to give up a cars all together. They may only use a car on weekends, but they don’t want to walk to an Autoshare to do it. 2. As house prices increase the expectation that a house “should” have parking also increases, which increases the discount that houses without parking are able to get. 3. There’s always one upsmanship: having a front pad spot is OK, having a usable garage is nice, having a heated circular drive is better, having your house front onto one street and back onto another where your garage/coach houses are accessed (a la High Park Gardens) is better still and then of course you could just have a side road that leads into your basement climate controlled exotic car room.

    1. jeff316 says:

      “There’s an interesting contradiction here: as more and more Torontonians are ditching their cars in an effort to cut back on costs, the price of parking is actually increasing in houses and condos!

      How does that make sense?”

      It could make sense if people opting to go car-less does not increase parking availability, and diminishing availability of land for parking and a lack of parking-available SFH increases the price of what parking is available.

  4. Joe Q. says:

    The owner of the house I used to rent in had an unregistered (“illegal?”) front parking pad. He was actually also a Realtor, and when he put the house up for sale, the MLS listing indicated that it had one parking spot. Always wondered what would come about if he got called out on that.

    Our current house has laneway parking (garages off a rear laneway) but the street is still filled with curbside parking, as many families have 2-3 cars and / or use their laneway garages for storage. The laneway garage is convenient but I often wish we had more backyard space instead. Also, as another commenter posted, the laneways are not maintained in any way by the City (no plowing or salting). Gets pretty rough in the winter.

  5. Chico gonsalez says:

    From a pure real estate valuation perspective, the parking pyramid (top to bottom) is as follows:

    1. 2 cars or more private drive (50-100 k premium over comparable property withou private drive)
    2. 1 car private drive (30-50 k premium)
    3. 1-2 car laneway parking (provided it is in a desirable neighbourhood like high park, leaside, etc)
    4. Mutual drive with actual parking
    5. Front pad parking
    6. No parking.

  6. Paully says:

    My favourite leave-behind for lousy parkers was a card that said: “I hope you don’t f*** like you park…You’ll never get it in!”

    I also saw one that suggested the person “kindly leave behind a can opener next time so that I can pry my car out of the non-existent space that you left me!”

  7. firsttimebuyer says:

    Silly question here: so, as a buyer looking through properties on MLS listing (prepared by agent), how can i tell that condo includes exclusive use parking? i usually see parking as being owned or none, not seen exclusive use.

    1. ratherbeinagarden says:

      It could be in the comments of the listing OR ask your agent to confirm this. It’s part of what we
      ( should) do. It’s one of the most common errors/oversights made . Also note that even if you do own the parking space it typically can be sold ONLY to someone in the building .

  8. Floom says:

    Why do we park on a parkway and drive on a driveway? Wait…
    Also, I prefer to say “Car-hole” instead of Garage – I’m not british!!!

  9. jeff316 says:

    Legal front pad parking is ugly and it’s not great for stormwater retention but as long as you’re a one car family and not interested in having a garage, front pad parking is ideal. It allows easy access to your car, no one uses their front yard anyway – particularly when they’re as small as many are in Toronto. Back lanes are not well maintained by the city and often not by homeowners and shenanigans can take place back there. Plus, that concrete pad or garage is really just eating up into your back yard anyway.

    1. Kyle says:

      Back laneways used to be sketchy places, but these days in most neighbourhoods that have laneways, the most sketchy thing that happens is people not picking up after their dogs. You’re more likely to encounter Porsches and Benzs than shady characters.

      1. jeff316 says:

        I dunno, my lane is handy but I’ve always seen it as a waste of a good 120 sq ft of recreational space given that I almost never have two cars out there. I guess it depends where you are. My lane is still kinda sketchy. There’s a lot of out of sight, out of mind…even the fancy houses often fail to keep up their garages. I’ve found a lot interesting things out there but we’re close to a major intersection so that might be why.

  10. Kyle says:

    Another type of parking that’s common in downtown Toronto is laneway parking. I prefer it to a mutual drive and possibly more than private drives, since you don’t have a big strip of asphalt eating up your backyard space. Another benefit is that your garage or parking pad can be as wide as your lot, so semi’s and rows on 18′ wide lots can actually have two car garages, something many detached 25′ – 30′ lots with mutual drives can only dream of having. It also makes for better looking streets than front pad parking. And the laneway makes a great place for kids to play ball hockey or learn to ride a bike.

    1. moonbeam! says:

      Totally agree, from what I have seen of laneway parking & kids playing there!

  11. grasshopper says:

    “Be weary, folks. Be very weary.”

    weary = tired
    wary = prudent

    Your readers should be vigilant not sleepy.

    1. SCM says:

      And there is no ‘s’ on anyway.

      1. ScottyP says:

        I’m weary of grammar polices.

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