If I had one million dollars I would… maybe buy a modest home in Toronto. Anyone looking to get into the Toronto real estate market has to at some point come to terms with the reality that one million dollars just doesn't get you as much as it used to. While it may sound like a lot of money in other contexts, when it comes to real estate, this is not the case. Toronto homes in excess of the one million dollar price tag have become entirely normal and are seemingly here to stay.
When it comes to detached homes, one million dollars puts you on the low end of purchasing power, therefore, you’ll have to work a little harder and make some compromises to find a home at that price in the city of Toronto. However, there are many more options in the city. Semi-detached, townhouses, and condominiums all sell for much lower prices and can help you get into the market with less money.
As of November 2021, the average prices for homes in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) were as follows:
These figures represent the average across the region while prices in Toronto proper tend to be a bit higher than in the GTA, especially in the detached and semi-detached segments.
These prices follow from years of rapid price escalation in Toronto. Looking back, the most recent time that an average single family home sold for less than $1 million in the GTA was in August of 2019 when the average detached home price was $978,920. For the city of Toronto proper, average prices for detached homes have remained above $1 million since at least mid-2015.
If you are entering the Toronto market today with $1 million and looking to buy, you probably want to know what sort of options are available to you. Let’s take a look at how you will fare with different property types.
In terms of detached homes, your options will be limited, but it may be possible to find a home within this budget. Remember that the average home price is just that: an average. As with any average, there are outliers above and below the reported value. Currently, there are a number of detached homes on the market in Toronto for around $900,000 and even some lower. But be warned. With so much demand for houses in the city and low-priced homes being harder to find, many of these will likely end up selling for above their asking price, pushing them over the $1 million sale price. Either that, or they are in very poor condition and intended to be flipped or torn down entirely.
You will also have more luck depending on the area you are looking at, as some areas like those in downtown Toronto have average sale prices that exceed the city average, while others remain lower. In general, you are going to have the best luck finding a detached home in areas outside Toronto where prices are moderately lower.
In these market segments, you’ll start to find a lot more options for your money. While these homes do tend to be cheaper, they offer much of the same features you’d get in a detached home when it comes to amenities, location, and variety. Within the segment, there are many newly built developments as well as older established ones. These homes are a great option for young families who cannot afford full-sized homes but want more space to grow than a condo can provide. For the price, these offer a happy medium.
Once you start looking at a condo or apartment, you can begin to sacrifice some of the comforts of larger home types. However, with one million dollars to spend, this may not be the case. That budget puts you nicely above the average cost of condos in both Toronto and the rest of the GTA. This means you will be able to afford a slightly nicer condo than the average. Now of course, high-end luxury condos can still be above your budget, but you will certainly be more than comfortable with this amount. Toronto has by far the hottest condo market in the GTA, though there are also options in other areas in the region.
If you are looking at where your million dollars can go the furthest, Toronto may not be your best bet. In terms of being connected and in the heart of Canadian urban life, the city is unmatched, but how does it compare when it comes to getting the most for your money? With help from data from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), let's look at some other regions in Canada and see how they compare at the $1 million price point.
In nearby Hamilton, detached homes averaged at $916,191 in November of 2021, a significant reduction over the prices of the GTA. Other nearby Ontario cities such as Kitchener-Waterloo and Barrie still remain under the $900,000 mark for average home prices.
In terms of Canada's big cities, areas like Ottawa, Calgary and Montreal manage to be much more affordable than Toronto. Meanwhile, the city of Vancouver has comparable, if even slightly higher prices, than Toronto.
Overall, when looking at the rest of the country, it should come as no surprise that Toronto is one of the worst areas for affordability for the average person and your money will go much farther almost anywhere else. And indeed, many have already begun to leave the city for more comfortable areas, especially since they’re able to work from home amidst the pandemic. For investors at least, the booming house prices mean handsome returns on investment, provided the market can continue performing at its pace.
As it stands now, your $1 million can still get you a home in Toronto, though your options are going to be limited in some segments and you may not be able to find your dream home. On the bright side, if the market continues as forecasts indicate it will, the one million dollar buyer will no longer need to search high and low in Toronto. They can instead rest easy knowing they are hopelessly priced out and take their money elsewhere.
When you flip houses, you are not usually intending to live in the house; rather the strategy is to sell the property as fast as you can so as to avoid paying taxes and other expenses on the property. While there will obviously be initial costs that you will need to budget for, house flipping can be done with few resources and little experience.
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