Condominiums (aka condos) are the most popular home buying option in Toronto. They consist of private residences in a larger complex with common areas that are shared with other residents. Many condos are built as high-rise buildings, but there are other variations, including boutique buildings or detached condos.
Before 1899, there were no apartment-style buildings in Toronto that had been constructed specifically for condo usage at all. The first building that was created for multiple occupancies was The St. George at 1 Harbord Street, which was at an intersection in an affluent neighbourhood located west of the University of Toronto campus.
The permit for this complex’s construction was the first of its kind in Toronto, and was issued in 1899 to A. W. McDougald (president of the Improved Realty Co. of Toronto Ltd). McDougald estimated that the building would end up costing his business approximately $100,000 (which converts to about $2 million in today’s money).
The St. George was six-storeys, built with brick and Bedford stone, and had a partially enclosed courtyard. It was in the shape of a “C,” and took five years to construct. Most of the 34 apartments had balcony space with heavy stones that could be utilized and decorated as Juliet-style balconies.
Once the units were completed in 1904, they were targeted at middle-class occupants. According to economic data at the time, middle-income families were more likely to want to live in this area, so they were the target demographic for this building.
In 1904, just after the building was completed, there were 34 apartments. Many of the original 99 occupants were affluent middle-aged couples. In particular, two professors, two bank managers, three barristers, and an insurance company director were listed as occupants during this period.
The second apartment complex built in Toronto was called the Alexandra. Construction started on University Avenue one year after the St. George Mansions were completed. This building had 72 suites over seven floors, as well as panoramic views from the penthouse.
Even though the St. George Mansions and the Alexandra no longer exist, some buildings from these earlier days have survived: in 1907, Toronto’s very first apartment building directory included Spadina Gardens and Sussex Court, two buildings that are still around today.
These days, many first time home buyers opt to buy condos over single-family homes. Condos are appealing to many people because they are low maintenance. They are also ideal spaces for young professionals because property management teams take care of the daunting home tasks that can take up valuable time.
For the most part, condos are also cheaper when it comes to purchase cost and relevant taxes. Many buyers also like knowing they can travel and feel safe that their homes will be well looked after. The majority of condos offer amenities like gyms, lounges, and pools, and are usually all easily available. An added bonus to condos is that they tend to be closer to exciting neighbourhoods with many shops and a range of restaurants.
Since prices fluctuate as the market shifts, buying a condo should be a long-term investment. Purchasing a unique condo is an effective investment strategy as it can lead to potential tenants paying higher rents, or even a more straightforward selling process sometime in the future. Since there are so many one-bedroom condos in downtown Toronto, finding a condo that stands out is definitely appealing to condo buyers.
Intensification will be constant in Toronto, and it will continue to lead to more condos being built. Since many people are choosing to raise their families in condo-style rental apartments, these types of dwellings will continue to be a strong real estate trend.
With more families continuing to purchase condos, alongside young professionals and empty-nesters, developers will tailor their designs to be family-friendly. These designs could involve play areas for children, more family-oriented amenities and reconfigured parks.
Real estate professionals also believe that there will be a rise in mixed-use condos over those that are stacked on top of commercial spaces. Innovation in condo development will continue to get more creative, as developers take ecosystems and spaces into account.
High-density living, like in a downtown condo complex, is a more sustainable housing choice. Studies show that household and transportation energy gets used less in these areas than in rural or suburban neighbourhoods. In addition, individuals who live in rural or suburban areas will use around three times more energy every year than those who live in condo complexes. Condos are also generally smaller in size than single-family houses, which means a reduction in heat loss.
Since condo buildings are located near public transportation and/or major hubs, people generally walk, bike, or take other environmentally-friendly modes of transport more often. There are also services that are helpful for decreasing environmental impact in condos, including recycling, wastewater treatment, recycling. Without a doubt, these strategies are easier to implement with many people living in close proximity to one another.
There’s no doubt that sustainability will be taken into account and affect how condos are built in the future. That being said, building performance will also continue to be imperative since many of the families buying condos will want their investments to be long-term. As the world continues to progress with technological advancements we can expect to see some wildly creative condo complexes that will be built to last for many years to come.
Condos will always be one of the most enticing property options for a first-time homebuyer. No matter the reason, whether it’s affordability, convenience, amenities, or location, people will continue to buy condos in Toronto and other major Canadian cities.