How will the Pan Am Games impact Toronto real estate?

The 2015 Pan Am and Para Pan Am Games, which are due to kick off in Toronto this summer, could replicate the impact on real estate and development that was seen by Vancouver following the 2010 Olympic Games.

“With the dollar falling the way it is and more Americans coming from places like Chicago to see Canada for the first time, it could spur some investments for sure,” said Simon Clayton, a Realtor with MacDonald Realty.

“I’m a big believer in the offshoots these Games present. It’s worth more than dollars and cents, and community pride. It gives people a first-hand look at what Toronto is like, which is what we saw in Vancouver when the Olympics were here.”

His comments come on the heels of the fifth anniversary of the Vancouver Olympics, which was a marquee event that some experts suggest kick-started the West Coast city’s current market trends.

Bill Binnie, a realtor at Royal LePage in B.C., said the Olympics shone a spotlight on Vancouver, which made Canada’s most expensive residential city a destination for new investors and buyers at a time when development and real estate was booming.

“There were a lot of development projects that began a couple years before the Olympics even began that [was a boon] to industry,” he added. “There was a lot of vibrancy in the economy and it was part of the allure of the Olympics that did that.

“Many people rented their homes during that time. False Creek was an area that really benefitted and it provided a huge boost to real estate in Vancouver. One could argue that the Olympics really kick-started some of the things we’re seeing in B.C. today with home prices.”

The Olympics opened the way for infrastructure projects, such as the speed-skating oval, as well as the development of condominiums, single-family homes and commercial space for real estate companies such as Amacon, Aspac, Cressey, Intracorp and Onni.

Clayton said that Vancouver’s Olympic Village is now thriving, and many townhouses and multi-family homes have been built and sold in spaces that were occupied during the 2010 Olympics.

Chris Simmons, a real estate broker at Royal LePage, acknowledged that the Olympics brought growth not only for housing, but for Realtors as well – and it is still paying dividends.

“It’s brought pools of housing to the Vancouver area and there’s no shortage of people looking to buy homes here,” he said. “The Olympics really put us on the map and there were some lasting effects that have been felt.

“We see a wave of investors from foreign countries coming to live and set up businesses in Vancouver and the Olympics could have had a lot to do with what we’re seeing now.”

It will take some time before Toronto sees these same trends, but so far the city has put a lot of development behind the Pan Am Games, most notably the Union-Pearson Express rail that will connect Toronto’s Pearson airport and Union train station together.

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