We talk a lot about “curb appeal” for houses, namely how they look from the outside, hence “if you were standing on the curb.”
A client of mine recently told me, “I couldn’t care less what my house looks like on the outside, so long as it’s everything I want on the inside.”
Last week, a different client told me she wouldn’t be offering on a house because, “I just can’t get over the lack of curb appeal.”
To each, their own. But what about when it comes to condos? Do you care what the actual building looks like?
Ask ten buyers how they feel about curb appeal, and I think you’ll get ten different answers.
If I had to guess, however, how many out of ten feel that it’s important, I’d say more than half.
Despite the exact opposing views of the two clients that I detailed in the intro above, I’d say that maybe 7/10 buyers would find curb appeal to be important.
I’ve seen it be the deal-breaker on many occasions, but I’ve also seen it not matter in the slightest.
I think you want to like the look of where you live, but it’s a question of how much.
I work in real estate, so it would be hard to say that I “don’t care” what my home looks like from the outside. That’s like the who works at Bay-Bloor Radio saying he doesn’t care what make and model of TV and speakers he has in his living room.
Personally, I put curb appeal really high on my list of evaluation criteria.
I love red-brick homes. I love the two white pillars out front. Add some black shutters, maybe a cedar shake roof, and I’m drawn in.
But I also like the Victorian look.
I suppose you could say I like houses that are attractive, and built in a notable style.
The client I mentioned in the intro was checking out a house a few weeks ago in Wychwood, which they ended up bidding on.
One of them asked me, “What don’t you like about this house? What are we missing here? What are we giving up?”
Basically, this house checked all their boxes, and then some. It’s rare to find a house that has everything you want, plus some improvements or features that you hadn’t considered. So when all was said and done, my client was basically saying, “This seems to good to be true. Tell me something bad about it.”
I couldn’t really think of anything, but eventually I said, “I suppose I don’t like the ugly grey brick-tiles they’ve glued to front of the house. I would imagine there was red brick under there at one point.”
My client completely brushed that comment aside and said, “Oh I don’t care about that. What else?”
Honestly, I drew a blank! And on a personal level, I didn’t think the home had as much curb appeal as it could have, but as I said – to each, their own. He said he couldn’t care less what it looked like on the outside, so long as it had everything he wanted on the inside.
I think that view might be in the minority, but let me know if you agree.
And then let’s segue into today’s topic – this idea of “curb appeal” for condominiums.
It’s a different idea altogether.
You own your home; you simply live in your condominium building.
Yes, you own your unit. But there’s no exterior; there’s no curb appeal!
A blog reader recently emailed me the artist’s rendering for a new condominium in Manhattan known as “U-Tower.” Take a look:
She told me, “I’d love to live there!”
I asked her, “What are the units like?” And she simply said, “I don’t care – the building looks so cool!”
This got me thinking: would you live in a building because of how the OUTSIDE looks?
I think that’s a cool looking building, for sure.
How practical is it? I don’t know.
But what are the floor plans like? What are the prices in comparison to neighbouring buildings? Aren’t these the things that matter?
Or maybe the same theory behind the “curb appeal” for houses, translates to condominiums as well.
Take 168 King Street East, for example.
In the mid-to-late 2000’s, before a slew of new condos in the St. Lawrence Market area (Vu, Post House, Berczy, The Modern, East Lofts just to name a few) were built, King George Square at 168 King Street was the “crown jewel” of the neighbourhood.
It was a red-brick building, with a black iron gate out front:
This was by far the most “charming” condo in the St. Lawrence Market area.
And for a long time, it was the most popular, most sought after, and most expensive.
The only reason it hasn’t remained tops on the list is because there are more buildings in the area, and newer buildings, which is what most condo buyers want. But in this building’s heyday, the “curb appeal” was part of what made it such a big draw.
So fast-forward a little, and tell me if, in the past few years, the “curb appeal” or the architecture of Toronto condos has made them successful.
What about L-Tower?
Remember the first time you saw this rendering:
I’ll be honest – I thought it was cool.
I didn’t like the pricing, the size of the building, and thus the potential for problems, in addition to the slew of issues I have with the way pre-construction condos are sold, but that’s old news.
The project sold well, and it went forward as just about every pre-construction condo does in this market.
But what was the result?
If you follow real estate gossip, you know that the crane atop the building remained there for about two years after it stopped being used. Everybody in the city wondered, “What’s wrong with this place?”
The lobby took literally years to finish.
And personally, I don’t care for the floor plans, and the micro-appliances.
I have never sold a unit in the building, and the chances that I do, are slim.
This has nothing to do with “curb appeal,” however.
I think the curb appeal helped sell the project in pre-construction, as people bought from the artist’s rendering. But in the market today isn’t great.
The National Post wrote an article about all the ongoing problems back in 2015, check it out HERE.
And just for fun, here’s how the building looked when it was almost finished, crane and all:
What do you think about the “Marilyn Monroe Towers” in Mississauga?
Surely you’ve seen these towers from afar, as you’re driving along the QEW, or even flying into Pearson Airport!
Would you buy into the building because it has curb appeal?
Do you even think it has curb appeal?
Or does it just look weird to you?
Better question – does it look like Marilyn Monroe’s curves?
How about now?
Okay, how about now:
What about Emerald City in North York?
Did this project have curb appeal when the renderings were released?
I guess every condo has curb appeal, when we see the artist’s renderings.
In the renderings, the sky is always PURPLE!
Who wouldn’t love to live in a world with a purple sky! The future is here!
The renderings also always seem to show no other buildings, or signs of life (other than trees, and people carrying coffee and walking dogs), and make the buildings look majestic.
So what do you think of the real Emerald City now:
Geez, I dunno.
Just another condo, I think.
I guess what I’m trying to figure out is – how many of you out there, reading this, either in the market for a condo, or having bought, would put “curb appeal” for a condo in your Top-Five criteria?
Maybe curb appeal doesn’t matter as much, but rather the construction of the building itself does?
I’ve heard some people say they don’t want to buy in these glass-and-steel buildings, because they worry about how the glass will hold up in the long-term, and/or because of the falling glass saga that started back in 2011.
Either way, I’d like to hear your thoughts.
And along the lines of “curb appeal,” check out Business Insider’s “25 Most Beautiful Buildings According To Architects”, which is a fun read as well.