2021 MLS Awards: Toronto's most and least expensive sales of the year
Friday Jan 07th, 2022
Welcome to the 3rd Annual MLS Awards. Last year's 2020 MLS Awards was one of my most popular blog posts of the year, and BlogTO found enough content in there to turn it into three different articles. If you're curious, the 2019 MLS Awards are still kicking around too. I started doing them because I was curious to see what the most expensive house that sold in Toronto on the MLS, then that made me wonder what the least expensive was. Then I wondered about condos and went down a a curiosity rabbit hole. Though TRREB's MLS covers a wide geographic area, the below are just for my main area of interest, the City of Toronto (aka the 416), unless noted otherwise. I'll also be concentrating on residential (not commercial) real estate, and you likely realize that the MLS is re-sale properties (as opposed to pre-construction sold directly by the builders). MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service and I should be writing it as MLS® but that's a pain. And the winners are...
Thanks to Steve Manale for whipping up the trophy image.
Most expensive asking price
The rest of these awards will be for places that actually sold. Note that listing prices can have a lot of wishful thinking built in, and especially in uber-expensive properties can vary a lot from any final sold price. So I like to deal in sold prices because they are real. That said, here is the highest asking (list) price for a Toronto property on the market in 2021:
Neighbourhood: C12 Bridle Path-Sunnybrook-York Mills
Address: 24 Park Lane Circle
List price: $45,000,000
DOM: 259 (and counting)
No surprise here that for the third year in a row, the Bride Path neighbourhood is where the highest list price is found. Every year it comes in at the number one spot in my rankings of Toronto's most expensive neighbourhoods. This 28,000 square foot mansion sitting on 3 acres in this famed neighbourhood is unique in that it actually has two concurrent residential listings. For $25 million you can buy it as-is, or there's the $45 million option here where "Owner/Builder will customize while in construction."
If I make this a GTA award, there's a Mississauga mansion in the Sheridan neighbourhood just off of Mississauga Rd and north of the QEW (close to the Mississauga Golf & Country Club and the Credit Valley Golf & Country Club) that is also currently listed at $45 million, but during 2021 it had another listing up at $50 million.
Most expensive sale: Freehold
Neighbourhood: C12 Bridle Path-Sunnybrook-York Mills
Address: 71 The Bridle Path
Sold price: $23,850,000
DOM: 440 (total property DOM: 906)
This one may look familiar to people who read the 2020 MLS Awards because as it had the most expensive asking price, at $32 million. It actually first hit the market in October of 2018 at $38.9 million. The $32 million had been reduced to $28.9 million at time of sale, so to my point above, the sold price ended up more than $5 million under the list price. These places are so unique that I have a lot of empathy for the agents trying to price and value them. It's definitely not like a 40 storey condo town where there can be 100 places with the same layout. And so much custom work is subjective in value, being potentially important to one buyer but not another (e.g. wine cellar, basketball court, sex dungeon).
As I noted, this one totalled 906 DOM across 4 listings. Note that in the TRREB stats they only take into account sold properties, and even then they only use a property's final listing - the one it sold on. So that stat is always understated. And it also shows the dangers in looking at averages. This one listing's 440 days is surely going to drive the DOM average for the neighbourhood way up (so median is probably a better measure). For the month it was sold it brought the neighbourhood average (based on 12 total sales) up from 22 days to 60. Even on the full year across 109 sales it had an effect, single-handedly dragging the neighbourhood's average DOM from 33 up to 37. And again, that was using the 400 days not the 906 total days on market.
The work from home crowd will be happy to know that the 21 rooms (plus 9 more in the basement) do include a place suitable for working from home:
The description includes the following adjectives: awe-inspiring, elite, breathtaking, dramatic, iconic, handcrafted, world-class, spectacular, soaring, fabulous, gorgeous, brilliant, timeless, exquisitely-proportioned, rare. Really flexing the "superlative" section of the thesaurus there. If you're curious to see more, including the tennis/basketball court, the grand double staircase, and the indoor pool, here's the video.
Least expensive sale: Freehold
Neighbourhood: W3 Caledonia-Fairbank
Address: 2226 Dufferin Ave
Sold price: $450,000
Now to the other end of the spectrum. This story isn't as weird as the 2020 winner in this category, which was also the same exact house as the 2019 winner. That one sold for $420,000 so the floor has been raised this year. Of course this one is a total gut job. There are no other photos on the listing so we can't see inside, but you can tell when you read between the lines on "Attention builders" and "Property being sold as-is, where-is" and "Land value only. Nothing of value from existing house." For extra fear factor they instruct "No children or elderly to access lot or house."
The next cheapest house was $550,000 for a semi-detached bungalow on a 14.75' wide lot in E3 Crescent Town ("Full reno/gut required."), making this Dufferin one the only property in the whole city of Toronto (with a house on it) that sold under $500K last year. In 2020 there were 4 such sales. If I look at house sales under $600K in 2021 there were a total of 5 (plus 2 that were at $600K on the nose). To put that in perspective, there were also 5 properties that sold for over $14.5 million.
Note: I excluded the $140,000 sale of this strip of land below that runs parallel to the laneway and across the backs of four people's backyards in the Gerrard & Woodbine area, as I wanted only properties with a house on it (no matter how ratty the house was).
Most expensive asking price: Condominium
Neighbourhood: C1 Bay Street Corridor
Address: 1 Bloor St W (The One)
List price: $34,700,000
DOM: 45 (and counting)
There are actually two $30 million properties the developer (Mizrahi Development Group) is selling in this building. So you're probably looking at an award winner for the 2022 Awards if either of them sell (though they'll also likely repeat on this most expensive listing award). One is this $34.7 million 8,752 sqft lower penthouse (5 + den, 7 bathrooms) on the 79th floor. The buyer has the option to customize the layout, so there are no real pictures, but you can see a bunch of renderings of what your pad could look like here. Here's how the interior is described: "Sleek interiors of marble and wood. Opulent metallic tones. Sunlight from every angle. Clean and pure. Every room showcases the glory of the view. Living high in the sky. You're the first to see tomorrow. The last to see yesterday."
Kind of an over-the-top description. But it's an over-the-top price too, so there you go. I do fully believe those views are kick-ass, though. If I'm plunking down $30 mill, I'm also going to pony up to throw a couple of rugs up in here to warm-up the vibe a bit.
The other unit in the building, which uses the same renderings, is listed at $31.62 million. It has penthouse bragging rights (82nd floor), but is "only" 6,137 sqft (3 + den, 5 bathrooms).
Most expensive sale: Condominium
Neighbourhood: C9 Rosedale-Moore Park
Address: 1 Roxborough St E (Hill and Dale)
Sold price: $11,600,000
DOM: 44 (total property DOM: 174)
Back in 2020, the most expensive condo sale was for a $9 million unit at 77 Charles West. That was the only sale over $7.25 million that year. In 2021 there were 6 sales over $7.25 million so the luxury market seemed to be in a good place. I guess with the rich getting richer through asset price inflation, that makes full sense. This year's top sale, located in a 14-unit building (or if you prefer with your Grey Poupon, "14 discrete residences") one block north of the Rosedale subway station is about 4,000 sqft spread across two levels. There are 3 bedrooms plus a den (a 17' x 9' den, not a nook trying to pass itself off as a den), and 3 parking spaces. It was originally listed for sale in October 2020 for $12.8 million. Then relisted in March 2021 for the same price, before settling for the $11.6 million.
The best feature in this penthouse unit is probably the outdoor space, with 3 private terraces, including this rooftop one with your own pool and the good views.
Most expensive condominium maintenance fees (sold)
Neighbourhood: C2 Annex
Address: 155 Cumberland St (155 Cumberland)
Sold price: $10,850,000
Maintenance fees: $6,381/month
With this calibre of abode, I'm sure it's one of those "If you have to ask what the condo fees are, then you probably can't afford it" kind of things. This was the only other $10 million condo sale in the city last year ($10.85 million), located at 155 Cumberland St in Yorkville. The fees here were more than twice as much as the other $10 million pad (1 Roxborough above), which came in at "only" $2,756 a month. This Cumberland unit was one of 5 condos to have monthly fees north of $5,000, and one of 3 above $6,000.
Most expensive condominium maintenance fees (listed)
Neighbourhood: C2 Annex
Address: 118 Yorkville Ave (The Hazleton)
List price: $18,690,000
Maintenance fees: $12,002/month
Like I said, I normally reserve my awards for places that actually sold. But this unit is an interesting case so I figured it was worth mentioning. Check out those fees. Assuming the owner is in the top income tax bracket, they'd need to earn an extra $310,000 annually just to have enough after tax to pay the $144,000 in condo fees for the year.
What I find really interesting is the listing history on this. They first listed it for sale in April of 2013 for $16.65 million and it has gone on and off the market a total of 9 times. The price has bounced up and down in that time, going as low as $12.86 million (2017) and as high as the $18.69 million last year. But the other thing that grabbed my attention was to watch the evolution of the maintenance fees over time.
And you thought your condo fees went up by a lot! How about $45,000 a year over the last 6 years? By my estimate (which includes some assumptions), they've paid about $1,020K in condo fees since they first listed it. And another $475K in property taxes. So we're talking $1.5 million to carry it in since they first tried to sell it (and that's before any utilities).
Least expensive sale: Condominium
Neighbourhood: W5 Black Creek
Address: 4673 Jane St (Jane Street Condos)
Sold price: $140,000
For the third year running (and probably more but I only started doing this for 2019), the least expensive sale in the city was in the same same series of four buildings. They're located right on Jane, between Steeles and Finch. The forest at the top of the picture (the photo looks northeast) is where Black Creek Pioneer Village is. On the upper right part of the picture is the tennis stadium on York's campus where the Rogers Cup is held every year.
Last year I commented how the 2019 cheapest one sold for $85,000 (in 4645 Jane), and than it jumped to the 2020 cheapest one being $135,000 (4673 Jane St), and how that sucked for affordability that the floor rose almost 60% in one year. The floor jump from 2020 to 2021 was a much tamer 4%. This year's unit was a 2 bed 1 bath one in the 800-899 sqft range.
Looking at the high side of these buildings the most expensive has risen from $150K in 2019, to $225K in 2020, to two units selling for $315K in 2021. Those ones are large units, with 4 beds and 2 baths in the 1000-1199 sqft range.
Thirteen of the 15 condo sales under $200K in the city last year happened in these buildings (the other two were at 50 Old Kingston Rd). So it's pretty easy to crown in the lowest-priced building in the city. But why? Well, they were built in 1972 and are showing their age. Toronto Star architecture critic Christopher Hume (back when they had an architecture critic) had this to say in 2009:
The first thing one notices about the complex itself is its enormous size. Running up the east side of Jane, it combines mid-rise slabs and small street-level townhouses with tiny front yards. Entrances are also small and remarkably shabby. They set the tone for what follows which, despite new cladding on the front facade, is rundown and depressing.
You can add another decade of wear-and-tear on that description. Another factor is that CMHC won't insure the building, and as one old listing noted "Most Banks Do Not Provide Mortgage. Must Have Cash Buyers Or Private Financing." So you're looking at a buyer pool that's low income (or they'd be living elsewhere) but has a lot of cash on hand. I'm sure that's a small pool.
UPDATE: Seventeen days after I posted this, the CBC ran an article describing just how horrible the conditions at the building are. An engineering report recommended $14 million of necessary repairs to the building within the next year. The condominium corporation has less than 2 dollars in its reserve fund (the fund that is built up through a portion of your monthly maintenance fees to cover such long term maintenance items). They are already $9 million in debt ($8 million to private lenders and $1 million to the City of Toronto). So special assessments have been levied from $30,000 to $42,500 per unit. That's going to be hard to collect off of a lot of low income and fixed income owners. Pretty sad situation.
By the old "location location location" adage, the Jane and Shoreham location's reputation is also not helping the values of the area (it's not the Rexall pharmacy or Med-Health lab in the plaza across the street):
Most expensive sale: Condo parking space
Neighbourhood: C1 Waterfront Communities
Address: 100 Harbour St (Harbour Plaza Residences)
Sold price: $93,000
In last year's list there were three parking spots that hit the $100K sold price mark. On this year's list we fall just short of a six-digit sale, topping out at $93K (the 2019 champ was $86K). Every year the neighbourhood for the most expensive spot has been C1 Waterfront Communities, which runs south of Queen to the lake, and from Bathurst to Yonge St (minus the northeast chunk from Queen to Front and Simcoe to Yonge).
Parking spots are hard to track, because sloppy any agents input them incorrectly. Searching on the Type "Parking Space" there were 43 MLS sales in 2021. But there were 4 agents that classified them as "Condo Apt" and one that used "Other). So I'm culling from only 48 sales here. The median sale price of those 48 sales was $45,000 and the average was $45,174. Thirty-five of the 48 were what I'd call downtown.
The most expensive listing price for a spot was one that came out at One Bloor for $150,000 in October. They subsequently dropped it to $135,000 and pulled it off the market after 43 days. A reminder that I'm only seeing what happened on the MLS. Maybe this one sold off of the MLS for $125,000 - I can't check. Plenty of sales happen outside of the MLS, especially for parking spots. It's common to put an advertisement up in the mail room or Facebook page saying you're selling a spot and just do a private deal (5% commission on $45,000 would be $2,250). I've had buyer clients that purchased a place that came with a spot that they didn't need, so they put a notice up and sold it themselves. And quickly too - within the first month of moving in. Most buildings require you to be a resident of the building to own a parking spot anyway, so a mail room ad or Facebook post is extremely well-targeted marketing.
Also of note was a parking spot listing for $148,900 at 125 Village Grange Square (401 and Kennedy Rd) in E7 Agincourt South-Malvern West. My first impression was, "That's wildly high." But it turns out it was for 6 spots being sold together (an average of $24,817 per spot). They were trying to angle it as an "excellent and affordable investment" where you would "become the parking spot guy/gal in the building and earn great passive income." Talked about $9,300 gross revenue a year ($775/month, or $129 per spot). They didn't bring up the taxes and maintenance fees, but using those from the listing and assuming the agent's revenue estimates were accurate, you could be slightly cashflow positive with 10% down if you borrowed at prime (2.45%). Not the craziest thing. (You'd also have land transfer and legal fees up front to factor in.) Though they can be tough to move when you want to. Like if you ever left the building and had to dump them all at once, that would not be a good bargaining tool. Which brings us to...
Least expensive sale: Condo parking space
Neighbourhood: C1 Little Portugal
Address: 170 Sudbury
Sold price: $13,000
So this building was an Urbancorp project. You may have heard that company had some troubles. The builder was actually left with an inventory of about 40 spots. I know this because I helped a client buy one from that inventory back in 2019. There had been an individual unit owner's MLS sale in September 2018 for $25K. And then someone listed one at $29K in March of 2019. One day later the building put up an ad listing a spot for $20K. (Somehow someone paid $28,250 for the other listing about 2 weeks later.) When I called to check about "the spot" is when I was informed there was a long list that my buyer could choose from. I thought that was really smart to put the listing up to generate interest, while at the same time not letting the whole world know that you have a huge inventory of these. Still, I leveraged the information that they had a lot of spots and was able to strike a deal at $15K. The sale wasn't shown on the MLS because that listing didn't apply specifically to my spot. So nobody else could see what they sold for, which I also thought was smart. The name in the listing for the sellers was The Fuller Landau Group, who turned out to be the trustees in bankruptcy on this file.
Now, fast forward to 2021. Looks like they still had spaces on the book they wanted to liquidate, and it seems like they threw smart out the window because on June 10th, they listed SIXTEEN (16!) spots all at once. Fourteen of them were at $15,000, and the other two were at $18,000. Way to give the buyers a ton of leverage! It kind of cheesed me off because I was about to bring an condo apartment listing with parking on the market and at that point the last MLS parking sale was $18K in February. My thought was, "Thanks guys, way to devalue my spot." Sellers were on the sixteen spots were listed this time as Westside Gallery Lofts Inc. c/o The Fuller Landau Group (same trustees). Five of the 16 spots ended up selling, with the two $18K listings selling for $18K and $15K, and three $15K listings that sold for $14K, $13K, and $13K. And that's the story of the cheapest MLS parking spot sale for 2021 (the two at $13,000).
Most expensive sale: Condo storage locker
Neighbourhood: W1 High Park-Swansea
Address: 22 Southport St (South Kingsway Village II)
Sold price: $18,000
To me it's wild that a locker out at Queensway and South Kingsway could be worth $5K more than a parking spot at Queen & Dufferin. But such are the effects of supply and demand. No picture on the locker this year, or dimensions. But the building is from 1989 and the listing does say "Lots of wall space to accommodate shelving." Monthly maintenance fees on it were $14.57.
Cheapest storage locker sale of the year was $4,800 at 12 York St (a.k.a. ICE condos). Maintenance fees of $20.79, which is 43% more expensive than the fees on the expensive locker. For the 13 locker sales on the MLS in the year, the median price was $6,000 and the average was $7,777.
Largest percent of asking price: Freehold
Neighbourhood: C4 Lawrence Park North
Address: 177 Old Orchard Grove
Sold price: $2,058,000 (206% of $999,900 list price)
This isn't as ridiculous as the 2020 winner which sold for a similar amount ($2.05M) but had an even more ridiculous $500K list price. But still, you're going to put it up for half of what it's worth? I'm sure the agent thought they were really clever when they got 30 offers or whatever and slid that "SOLD OVER ASKING" sign rider on. If they had listed at at $1799K and got 8 offers, would they have ended up with the same sold price? I'd say that was likely. Do the extra 22 offers from people that have no chance really matter?
The condo winner for this category was 171% of asking for a unit at 1900 Bayview Ave (Sherwood at Huntington) which sold for $1,021,800 after being listed at $599,000.
Across the City in 2021, a record 65% of houses sold on TRREB's MLS went for 1% or more above the asking price (old record was 60% in 2016). For condominiums it was a record 44% (beating 42% in 2017).
Largest amount "over asking"
Neighbourhood: C9 Rosedale-Moore Park
Address: 7 Rosedale Rd
Sold price: $6,600,000 ($2,100,000 over $$,500,000 list price)
Yes, more than $2 million over asking. I kind of hesitate to do these "over asking" categories because I don't want to give any more attention to these clowns that savagely underlist and waste so many people's time (buyers, buyer agents, mortgage pros, bankers). The media loves these "Sold for a ridiculous amount over asking!" headlines. I guess they're sensational sounding. I still scratch my head as I frame it as how much did the agent underlist by. This particular sale got some press when it sold (and you can peep more photos there). It was a "unicorn" home for Rosedale, according to the agent (and agents are never known for hyperbole).
You don't often see people use the "bidding war" pricing strategy in these high snack brackets because there just aren't as many buyers competing in the space to compete against one another. But it seems to have happened a lot more frequently last year. In my 2020 MLS Awards I noted two houses sold for $1 million or more over asking. In 2021 there were 6 such sales.
Highest priced property sold "over asking"
Neighbourhood: C9 Rosedale-Moore Park
Address: 3 Douglas Dr
Sold price: $13,000,000 ($200,000 over $12,800,000 list price)
This one's not only unusual for going over the asking price at $12.8 million, but also for going over the asking price after 48 days on market. If you saw a place on the market for over a month you definitely wouldn't start your bidding up there. I'm guessing the sellers lucked into having two people interested at the same time and played them off against each other.
Smallest percent of asking price: Freehold
Neighbourhood: C1 Trinity-Bellwoods
Address: 219 Roxton Rd
Sold price: $1,550,000 (71% of $2,195,000 asking price)
This one was an "Attention builders/renovators/investors" special. No photos, but this listing mentioned it was set up as a fourplex with two units rented, one vacant, and one gutted and needing work. I reckon the buyers didn't think the "fantastic opportunity" was as fantastic as the sellers thought it was.
In a similar vein
You may also be interested in my annual post where I ranked all 144 neighbourhoods based on detached sales prices to find Toronto's most and least expensive neighbourhoods in 2020. Even if your neighbourhood didn't make the top of the most or least expensive charts, you can find it on the map and see it's ranking and rate of appreciation. The post also has hottest and coldest charts to see which ones had the largest price changes in the year. Stay tuned for the 2021 lists, coming soon.