Taking It To The Streets!

The street on which you live can affect the value of your property both negatively and positively.

It could be something as insignificant as the name of your street, or something as major as the crack house across the road.

Here’s a short-list of factors to consider when looking at a given street…

What makes a street so great?

Depending on who you are – your age, status, income, lifestyle, interests, and of course your place in the life cycle, you’re going to find different pros and cons with a given street.

Most of the following are either positive or negative in the eyes of a buyer, but some come with both pros and cons.

Number of Houses

From a simple supply and demand perspective, I suppose it’s better to be on a street with only twenty homes than to be on street that stretches throughout the neighbourhood.  That’s why you see so many MLS descriptions that read, “Quiet, one-block street,” and likely accompanied by something like, “rare opportunity to own…”

But there is something quaint about living on a short block or a street with only a few neighbours.  I’m not just talking about the overall value of a home that is in small supply, but rather the desirability of living on a small street that is tucked away from the major roads in a given neighbourhood.

Tree-Lined

When I think of a tree-lined street, I think “established” and “historic.”

Tell me that you don’t immediately notice a difference between this:

And this:

The first photo shows a beautiful tree-lined street in a well-defined neighbourhood; one that clearly has a history.

The second photo shows a crummy sub-division where the red maple trees on the lawn will reach the same height and stature of the trees in the first photo……in about seventy years.

Most people associate a tree-lined street with more than just the age of the neighbourhood.  It’s a better place to live, the schools are better, the area is safer, etc.  Parkdale has tree lined streets, and up until a few years ago it was a ghetto, so perhaps we should scratch the above theory!

But I can’t tell you how many of my buyers list “tree-lined street” on their must-haves when we first meet.

Windy Street

Is there something romantic about a windy street?  Or is it just more fun for drunk drivers who think they’re on a circuit?

Windy streets definitely have an added appeal.

I was looking at a house on Mackenzie last week – just off Dovercourt.  This street is very short, it’s tree-lined, and it consists of about three different bends which make the street exceptionally unique.

You do hear “windy” being used in tandem with “tree-lined” quite often, so maybe it’s a package deal, but I’ve been looking at a house on Fairview in Bloor West Village which is situated right on the curve of the street and it definitely adds some character!

Number of Children

One of the best child-friendly streets in the city is Thursfield Crescent in North Leaside.

For whatever reason, this street is home to more children on average than any other pocket I know of….and no, I don’t have statistics to back that up.

Perhaps it’s because most of the homes are semi-detached in the entry-level price bracket and thus they’re perfect for “starting a family.”

The benefits are obvious – road hockey games, hide-and-g0-seek, tag, slip-and-slide, movie nights, sleepovers, and for the parents – there’s always somebody to babysit.

I guess the lone drawback is the constant competition at the lemonade stand

Oh and just as a last point – Thursfield Crescent is tree-lined, and windy.

One Way Streets

This can be a pro or con depending on how you look at it.

Parents love one-way streets because it means less through traffic and it’s safer for the kids.

I HATE one-way streets because I’m always driving and it means I either have to go around the block, or drive backwards while texting on my Blackberry…

Speed Bumps

This is a dead give-away that you live on a busy street, but the alternative is constant traffic.

It’s a bit of a circle game.  You put speed bumps in to slow down and/or eliminate traffic, which you’ve done.  So now that there’s less traffic, can you get rid of the bumps?  Or will that traffic come racing back?

As somebody who drives along Merton Street every single day (often multiple times), it’s incredibly annoying to have to roll over all fourteen (I counted) bumps to get by.  I think prices of Merton homes suffer when compared to one street over on Balliol because people recognize that the street is busy, and because the owners themselves don’t want to deal with the bumps all day.

Thoroughfares For Traffic

This goes along with the speed bumps and often the one-way streets as well.

Some streets are a glutton for traffic, and obviously the prices of the homes suffer.

Sticking with the Leaside theme – McRae and Millwood are very busy streets and you won’t be getting the same price for your Millwood home as you would for the identical house around the corner on Rumsey.  On the other side of Bayview, Davisville is very busy and I rarely see the caption “Davisville Avenue – Most Coveted Street In The Area” appearing on MLS.

Bus Route

As an extension of the busy street idea, a bus route is about as busy as you can get.

Perhaps that’s another reason why Davisville Avenue is one of the least desirable streets in the neighbourhood, as you’ve got a gas-guzzling monster screaming by your front door every eight minutes in the morning.

Again – this can be a pro to some, whereas I obviously think it’s a con.  But contrary to my own knowledge on the subject, people do take public transit, and proximity to the TTC can be an asset for many people!

Street Name

How about Jewel Boulevard?  Would you assign a slightly higher value to this street than, say, “Poop Road?”

Historic street names like King and Queen appear in countless cities throughout North America, and Toronto is no different.  I thought that perhaps East Lofts would have done better at the onset had they gone with 275 King Street East instead of building a side entrance at 138 Princess Street.

I’ve told this story about a thousand times, but I’ll tell it again.  A resident on the corner of Bessborough & Sutherland, who had a Sutherland address, successfully changed the address of his home to Bessborough, since he had front and side doors.  He knew, as did the real estate market, that Bessborough was far more desirable than Sutherland, and he likely added tens of thousands to the eventual sale price.

Number of Porsches

Ah yes – this is an old metric!

Drive through a neighbourhood and count the number of Porsches on the street.

Personally, I’ve always thought of a Porsche as the perfect car for a short, balding, middle-aged man with no self-esteem who is going through a mid-life crisis.  The car is just large enough to fit his golf clubs, and too small to fit his family.  It’s also shaped like the part of his body that he would most like to change.

If you’re gonna buy a luxury car, at least be creative!

If a street is full of Porsches, then I might draw some inferences about the people who live there.

Maybe if there are a slew of Toyota Four-Runners, BMW X5’s, and VW Toureg’s – then perhaps you can call this a “family street.”

Neighbours

Exhibit A:

Need I say more?

The people who live in the semi-detached home next door would probably get $50,000 less than fair market value just because of the insanity taking place just a few feet away.

Hide your children, or they might join the M&M Peanut guy who is stuck to the eavestrough…

Well, I think the list could go on, and on, and on.

But you get the idea.

Actually, the photo above has inspired me to post a few photos from my folder of “Bizzare Homes” around the world.

Perfect lead-in to next week!

10 Comments

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  1. […] More info Filed Under: Real Estate […]

  2. jeff316 says:

    Has anyone else noticed some MLS listings that seem to be inaccurately mapped as to where they are located on their street?

    This listing in particular is mapped at the complete opposite end of the street that it is on:
    http://www.realtor.ca/propertyDetails.aspx?propertyId=10847663&PidKey=-334391970
    Just as far away from Vaughan Road as possible. Hmmmm

    Is that a software problem or are agents inputting map lsitings in such a way as to make thier listings seem closer to desirable features and farther from potentially undesirable stuff?

  3. colin says:

    First time I read it I thought David was talking about the wind to. Fantastic English language!

  4. Geoff says:

    I live on what I think is one of about 5 cul de sac streets in Toronto and think it’s the best thing ever. No through traffic, no speedhumps, it’s good.

    One thing you didn’t mention was having the street right behind your house. The only drawback to my house’s location is that on the otherside of my back fence is a two lane street that gets some traffic. Some of my neighbours back right onto LAwrence avenue (4 lane street with buses too) so I’m better off than them, but it’s kind of a drag to sit out back and hear a dbag on his motorcycle blast up the street.

    Luckily I have a good outdoor stereo, and it’s not like I didn’t know the street was there when I bought it.

  5. Darren says:

    Never mind, I thought you were talking about the wind! 🙂

  6. CD says:

    I love leafy streets however I have had houses in new subdivisions with no trees and also houses with an abundance of trees. The thing with trees is it makes your house incredibly dark. Some people find that kind of depressing.

    Our house now is very dark because of the way it sits on the lot and the crazy amount of trees. Nothing you can do though as I’m not cutting them down and also pray the emeral ash borer doesn’t destroy some of them as well.

  7. Darren says:

    What the hell, a windy street? Why would anyone want that?

  8. LC says:

    I’d take a bus route any day over kids screaming and playing hockey on the street.

  9. George says:

    I viewed East Lofts a year or two ago. The thought of living on Princess Street was indeed a turn off. King Street sounds so much more substantial and suitable for a man.

    I’ve always wondered why the major banking offices are on King Street whereas Queen Street is more of a shopping/fashion district. It’s as if developers follow the name.

    I would so live on Poop Road.

  10. Joe Q. says:

    Nice post. I live in the former City of York, land of endless one-way streets (many of which, like mine, have speed bumps). I’m not sure what it does to property values.

    And a street name can be deceiving. I agree with you about Millwood in Leaside, but the stretch of Millwood between Bayview and Yonge is a pleasant residential street (maybe slightly busier than some others in the neighbourhood).

    My agent talks often about “termite streets” — streets where houses suffer frequent termite infestations. This can bring property values down in a big way.

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