It could ALWAYS be worse…You could be living in Manhattan…


4 minute read

August 24, 2007

Yesterday, I get a call from a new “client,” that asks me for help finding her a condo.

She requires a 1-bedroom unit of over 1000 square feet for about $250,000.


Because I require Jessica Alba and Jessica Biel to have an impromptu fashion show in my condo living room…

We don’t always get what we want…


I am growing increasingly tired of people who complain about our “overpriced” Toronto real estate market, more specifically, downtown Toronto condominiums.  These people have been complaining for three years, during which time prices have risen dramatically.

You know that really skinny old man that still tries to move his hips like a youngster—he had some band in the 60’s (and 70’s, 80’s, 90’s…) that sang a song “You can’t always get what you want?”  Well, in the last few days I have had three different people call me and detail what they NEED in a downtown condo, that amounts to the most ludicrous pipe-dream I’ve heard in years…

#1.  A lady who I’ve been in contact with explains that she needs a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom unit of over 1200 square feet.  She is willing to spend between $200,000 – $300,000.  (actual price of what she is looking for: $480,000)

#2. A young man calls me and requests my help to find a suitable downtown Toronto lease.  He requires a 1-bedroom-plus den, parking, north of the Gardiner Expressway, between Jarvis and University, and south of Queen.  He has $1000 to spend.

#3. Another gentleman calls me and says he grew up in Toronto, has been living in Australia for the past ten years, and is ready to plant some roots in Toronto.  He has $200,000 to spend on a downtown condo, but wants something “nice” and with a terrace of at least 300 square feet, 2-bedrooms (possibly a den), and parking.  I explained to him the nature of our Toronto market, and he proceeded to berate me on how overpriced it is.

Clearly, this is my fault.

I apologize to the 3,000,000+ people living in Toronto for the current state of our red-hot real estate market.

I promise, it won’t happen again…

People in this city feel so hard-done-by.  I just don’t understand.

People: wake up!  We live in the largest city in CANADA!  We are a globally-recognized city!  We aren’t in Sioux Falls, South Dakota here talking about a small house with a few acres of farmland.  We are talking about a rapidly growing city with a super-healthy economy and a real estate market that WILL NOT slow down.

Look at Manhattan, New York.

This can’t be compared to Toronto, at the moment, but this is the most expensive, most populated area of a city that is better known than any other on the east coast.  Other than Los Angeles, name one city that could possibly get more attention in North America, or the entire hemisphere than New York?

So with Toronto being the Canadian equivalent, who’s to say that we won’t follow Manhattan’s lead?

Here is a new development in Manhattan, just to give you an idea of how truly hard-done-by the people who wish to live in Manhattan truly are.

Gramercy Park Lofts at 270 Park Avenue South.

gramercy3.jpg   gramercy1.jpg   gramercy2.jpg

Here are a few excerpts from their marketing campaign:

The first doorman rental building with unmatched renovation and state-of-the-art condominium fixtures in the Flatiron District.”

The interior merges pre-war sophistication with Art Deco flair.”

The lofts are ideal for Wall Street brokers, attorneys and new company recruits looking to make the most of their Manhattan experience.”

“All the apartments are outfitted with stainless-steel kitchens complete with marble countertops, recessed lighting, and under-cabinet illumination.”

Units also have brand new oak-flooring, oak-doors, custom closets, and industrial oversized windows.  Some of the higher end apartments also come with a private outdoor space.”

Okay.  So with respect to these high-end finishes they talk about, basically they receive what we would typically get in a new Toronto condominium that is average or above: stainless steel, granite/marble counters, upgraded flooring, etc.  And “some” of the higher end units have outdoor space.  My condo is not “higher end,” yet I have a 440 sqft outdoor space.

It seems to me that they are basically selling an average product, and dressing it up like it’s to-die-for.

So can I reveal the price now?

Try this on for size:

$3,500 U.S. per month for a BACHELOR!

$8,500 U.S. per month for a 2-BEDROOM!

So in this Manhattan rental building, equivalent to the rentals we have here on Bay Street, a bachelor apartment costs roughly three times as much as a decent one-bedroom in Toronto.


Is anybody else feeling “hard done by” with our “overpriced” Toronto real estate market now?

My brother and several of my close friends have jobs in the finance industry.  It’s a well known fact that anybody willing to up-and-leave to New York can make TWICE the money that they can here.

A simple question: What is the point of making TWICE the money if it costs you THREE TIMES as much to live?

Perhaps I am generalizing.  I have rarely been known to do that…

But when I get people calling me and giving me outrageous demands for Toronto real estate, I simply point them towards the Manhattan market.  They keep saying things like “It’s GOTTA end eventually!  This rapid appreciation and hot market MUST come and end.”

But will it?

Does it have to?

People in Manhattan are paying $649,000 U.S. for a 1-bedroom loft in a new luxury building.

Does it seem so rough for my friend Dave who will be looking to purchase a 1-bedroom in Queen West this September for around $289,000?

Toronto and New York are very different, but they have countless similarities as well.

As long as our economy remains strong, and this city remains vibrant, I don’t see the real estate market “dipping,” or even cooling off.

And for those people that continue to “wait out the storm,” I think you’ll be wishing you had just jumped right into the water instead of dipping your foot in three times before slowly slipping in like an old man…

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

Find Out More About David Read More Posts

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  1. Sanh

    at 12:15 am

    I can’t even begin to fathom paying those monthly prices!

  2. Duncan Scott

    at 6:34 pm

    I moved here from NYC two years ago… You get all of what the promise, yet parking is around 600 a month, and most likely not in your building but 4 or 5 blocks away and you won’t find laundry in the unit… though most of us leave it with the doorman and someone comes to pick it up and then drops it off folded!!

    The doorman are real doorman and not security guards with attitude though!! Priceless!

Pick5 is a weekly series comparing and analyzing five residential properties based on price, style, location, and neighbourhood.

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