2019 MLS Awards: Toronto's most and least expensive sales of the year
Friday Jan 10th, 2020
I was curious to see what the most expensive house that sold in Toronto on the MLS was last year, as well as the least expensive. Same for condos. So I looked them up. Then I went down a bit of a curiosity rabbit hole and at the end I figured if I was curious, you might be too, so I'm sharing them on this blog post. Though TREB's MLS system 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). And the winners are...
Most expensive asking price
The rest of these listings will be ones that actually sold. Listing prices often have nothing to do with reality. Sold prices are real. That said, here is the highest asking (list) price for a property brought to market in 2019:
Neighbourhood: C12 Bridle Path-Sunnybrook-York Mills
Address: 68 The Bridle Path
List price: $39,500,000
This property with a 308' frontage and just over 4 acres total was described as "Quintessential gated landmark French chateau and preeminent county estastate. Speactular. Grandeur, classic, meticulous." For all of those adjectives they were asking for $39.5 million. You also got 9 bedrooms (plus one in the basement) and 14 washrooms. Apparently 44 parking spaces. How do you count that? Like, I feel it's probably more of an estimate once you get past maybe 20. It was on the market for 197 before the listing expired.
There were two more expensive listings in the GTA, but they were both errors. A $714,500 townhouse in Brampton came out at $71.45 million and a $3.2 million Oakville property came out at $320 million. Whoops.
Most expensive sale: Freehold
Neighbourhood: C3 Forest Hill South
Address: 44 Burton Road
Sold price: $13,180,000
There were 44 freehold listings at $10 million or more brought to market in 2019. Only 9 of them sold (20%). What's remarkable to me about this one is that it sold in just 6 days - and for 100% of asking price. Of the 9, the median days on market (DOM) was 89 and the average was 90. To be fair, there were 4 low ones (6, 9, 10, 12) and then the rest were all over 80 days (82, 87, 141, 144, 150). But remember there were 35 listings that didn't sell - and they were on from 19 days to 272 days. That's one reason I don't like the DOM stat - it ignores all the days on market for properties that didn't sell.
Least expensive sale: Freehold
Neighbourhood: W4 Mount Dennis
Address: 29 Ray Ave
Sold price: $380,000
I would have counted semis or rowhouses too, but turns out the least expensive was detached. This was actually the third listing for this property. As you can see in the picture, it's about as close to the tracks as you can get. And it's located in Mount Dennis which has been the #1 least expensive hood in my annual Most and Least Expensive Neighbourhoods list the last two years. There were no pictures with the listing, but in the most Toronto real estate market way, the $380K buyers took possession July 11, then listed it for $525K on September 5. The extra $145K in value (38% increase) must be due to all the money they invested in repairs and staging:
They've had two listings totaling 120 DOM and surprisingly it hasn't sold. Oh, and one of the new owners/sellers is a real estate agent - or at least has a license. Haha perfect.
Most expensive sale: Condominium
Neighbourhood: C2 Annex
Address: 55 Yorkville Ave (Four Seasons Private Residences)
Sold price: $10,500,000
The listing uses terms like "showstopper" and "decadent finishes" and proclaims it is "everything we imagine luxury to epitomize." See for yourself at the photo gallery. It was listed at 3,843 sqft (per the builder's plans) and has over 2,000 sqft of terrace wrapping around the west, north, and east sides of the building (this unit takes up half of the 24th floor). The condo fees? Well, if you have to ask, you can't afford them They're $4,579 a month (just a bit under $55K a year). But hey, they do include full hotel amenities, including concierge services, porter service, valet parking and "membership to the exclusive health club." Taxes are another $45K so that's $100K a year to carry before utilities (I assume these are cash buyers).
The 76 DOM is a little deceiving as it was listed three previous times (all at $13,495K) in Aug 2014 for 183 days, Feb 2015 for 364 days, and Feb 2016 for 546 days. So really, a total of 1,169 DOM across the 4 listings. They used the same realtor for the first 3 listings, then switched to a new realtor who dropped the list price from $13.5M to $12.2M. And they ended up representing the buyer too! Let's assume they took 4% commission - that would be $420K for this sale. How would that be for making your year?
Most expensive condominium maintenance fees
Neighbourhood: C2 Annex
Address: 118 Yorkville Ave (The Hazelton)
Maintenance fees: $6,884/month
We'll stick around in Yorkville and head down the block from the Four Seasons to find another hotel that also has residences, The Hazleton. One 4,240 sqft unit that sold this year had monthly maintenance fees of $6,884. That would set you back about $82,600 annually.
That also works out to $1.62 per square foot per month. So what do you get for that? Well of course you get a lot of 24 hour services, like a concierge, valet parking, and room service. You also get access to the health club and spa with a "two-storey infinity pool." There's a 26-seat screening room, and you get access to Chef Mark McEwan's ONE Restaurant.
Honourable mention: Condominium double runner-up
Neighbourhood: C9 Rosedale-Moore Park
Address: 33 Jackes Ave (33 Jackes Condos)
Sold price: $6,500,000
Maintenance fees: $5,550.52/month
This condo was the runner-up as the most expensive 2019 sale in 2019, as well as the runner-up to the most expensive maintenance fees. It's a 4,480 sqft condo penthouse near Yonge & St. Clair spread over two floors. You get 4 private terraces, 2 parking spaces, and a direct elevator to your unit (and one between your main and second floor if you're not feeling up to taking the "grand sweeping staircase"). That terrace view to the south does look pretty sweet.
The monthly condo fees of $5,551 will run you just over $66,600 annually. At $1.24 per square foot per month, it's a good bit cheaper than the one at the Hazelton. But you have to call DoorDash if you're hungry at 3:00 AM. There were 8 condo sales in the 416 in 2019 at the $5 million mark or higher.
Least expensive sale: Condominium
Neighbourhood: W5 Black Creek
Address: 4645 Jane St (4645 Jane Street Condos)
Sold price: $85,000
Yes that's right - it's under $100K. Your land transfter taxes would come to $1,150, and your property taxes are all of $211 - a year (2018). This is a 600-699 sqft one bedroom, which many people squished in a shoebox downtown would envy. You're just a 3 minute drive to the Tennis Canada Aviva Centre where the Rogers Cup is held (and York University is just beyond that). Those are the pluses. On the downside, maintenance fees are somewhere in the neighbourhood of $1.00 per sqft at $657 a month, and the building was built in 1972. Toronto Star architecture critic Christopher Hume (back when they had an architecture critic) had this to say:
The first thing one notices about the complex itself is its enormous size. Running up the east side of Jane, it combines midrise 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.
And that was in 2009, so if it was rundown looking then... This unit didn't have photos, but looking at the others that sold last year (all but one of the 14 went for under $150K), you're getting parquet floors, electric baseboard heating (hydro is not included in the condo fees), and many still have the original kitchen cabinets which look like this:
Another large factor holding the values down is that CMHC won't insure the building and as one 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 $100K-$150K cash on hand. I'm sure that's a small pool.
Most expensive sale: Condo parking space
Neighbourhood: C1 Waterfront Communities
Address: 36 Blue Jays Way (SoHo Metropolitan Condos)
Sold price: $85,750
Yes that's right, the most expensive parking spot sold for $750 more than the least expensive condo. Weird. This is in the same building as the SoHo Hotel & Residences just southeast of King & Spadina, a stone's throw from SkyDome. They were actually asking for $98,800 if you can believe it. Many buildings have a rule prohibiting non-building residents from owning parking spots, but this condominium corp has no such restriction. They mentioned that in the listing, and should have aided its price as the average parking spot sold on the MLS last year in C1 Waterfront Communities was $55.7K (median was $54K). However one sold at 88 Harbour for $84,500 and you need to be a registered owner there. While location is obviously important, each building has its own unique supply and demand factors.
I found the listing pretty hilarious: "King St Pilot Permanent? $400/Month $50/Event Jays Game? Your Opportunity Here. Parking Downtown Toronto. Walk To Rogers Centre, CN Tower Ripley's Aquarium, King St Entertainment." I'm not sure about that $50 for a Jays game figure. One stadium parking guide website I went to mentioned $30 a game. There's an Impark lot beside the dome that says $20-$50 per event. I checked on Parking Panda for the 2020 home opener and found a place on Front about the same distance as this condo for $31. Using that $31 rate, you would need to go to 2,766 Blue Jays games to break even (leaving out the $1,165 land transfer tax and $50/month condo fees). Even if I used the $50 rate, that's 1,715 events to break even. The Blue Jays play 81 home games a year. Say you went to one concert or monster truck show a month, so another 12 events a year. But actually since you're paying $50/month for condo fees on the spot, that extra event is swallowed up. So if you go to every single Blue Jays game it would take 21 seasons and about a month into the 22nd to break even. So we're talking May of 2041. Even Vlad Geurrero Jr. will be retired then, having just turned 42.
Could be somebody commuting in. Even if we use their high-end rate of $400/month, that would take 219 months to break even, or 18 years and about 3 months.
Least expensive sale: Condo parking space
Neighbourhood: W6 Mimico
Address: 2045 Lake Shore Blvd West
Sold price: $3,500
On the other end we've got this one. I found 40 condo parking spot sales in the 416 last year. This was the cheapest by far, as the next closest was $20,000 also in Mimico at 6 Drummond (Royal Towns). The median for the 40 sales was $35K and the average was $40K. At first I thought this $3,500 sale at Palace Pier was some kind of anomoly. But I looked at past listings and from 2016 through 2019 there have been 4 listings, all asking between $3,000 and $6,000. As I was saying above, each building has its own peculiar supply and demand factors at play. This condo was built in 1978 with most of the residents being affluent downsizers. The unit sizes are very large, ranging between 888 and 3190 sqft. In that era parking was very important still, so plenty of spots were built. I looked at the last 24 months of sales in the building and all of the units came with parking, and 18 of the 43 units had 2 (or more!) spaces (42%). So we're talking a lot of supply. I bet if you looked around the parking garage there are many unused spots, so renting a spot would also be very cheap.
Most expensive sale: Condo storage locker
Neighbourhood: C10 Mount Pleasant West
Address: 2191 Yonge St (Quantam North Tower)
Sold price: $22,000
What makes this storage locker so special you ask? Well, per the listing, "Largest Type Of Private Locker For Sale At The Minto Midtown Available For Sale. It Is More Like A Whole Storage Room!" Funny thing is they sold five storage lockers off during 2019, and each listing had the exact same copy and pasted wording. I guess the key is "available for sale," which would be technically correct if there's only for sale at a time (which they did). Would also be the smallest type available for sale. The dimensions were given for this one at 91" x 116" which works out to 7'7" x 9'8". So "like a whole storage room" is 73 sqft - not much of a room. In case you weren't aware that you also pay monthly maintenance fees on parking spaces and storage lockers, I inform you that the fees on all 5 lockers were $18 a month.
The least expensive storage locker sale I found was $750 for one at 101 Charles St E (X2 Condos). I'm not sure why it was so cheap or why it sat for 301 DOM. I would guess a building with 552 units and a number of them studios under 500 sqft would have demand for storage lockers.
Largest percent of asking price: Freehold
Neighbourhood: W1 High Park-Swansea
Address: 34 Morningside Ave
Sold price: $1,555,000 (195% of asking)
There's a big difference between how much over market value you paid, and how much over artificially low listing price you paid. This was obviously a case of the latter. This is a detached one and a half storey home built in 1906 on a 38' wide lot in a coveted area. The average sold price last year in the neighbourhood (108 sales) was $1,736K. This one was just over the median of $1,553K. It was an estate sale of an outdated and slightly rundown property that went to market in April, holding offers and being sold in "as-is" condition. The 38' lot size is the most appealing thing. The neighbourhood median in sales last year was 28' wide so this was in the 87th percentile of lot widths for 2019 sales. The buyer is likely going to tear it down and take advantage of the width to build some kind of McMansion like you see on the left.
Using 2019 YTD November numbers 27% of freehold sales 416-wide were for over the list price, while this neighbourhood was 46%. The city saw 5% of sales go for 20% or more of list price, while this neighbourhood had 10% of its sales over that mark. That indicates to me that the area is fairly hot, because you wouldn't use the "under-list and hold offers" strategy if you didn't expect strong interest.
Smallest percent of asking price: Freehold
Neighbourhood: E8 Cliffcrest
Address: 113 & 115 Brooklawn Ave
Sold price: $1,693,000 (56% of asking)
The story behind this property / these properties was such a juicy mess that it was written up in Globe & Mail article on the heightened risk of flipping. The seller bought this 80 foot lot in 2011, then tore down the nice older house, split the lot into two 40 foot lots and started building these boxy modern homes. The builder had all sorts of financial troubles and was eventually forced to list under power of sale. The one on the left, number 115, was listed at $1,950K and sold for $848K according to the MLS (43% of asking). The one in the right, number 113 was listed at $1,045K and sold for $845K (81% of asking). So the total purchase price was $1,693K (verified with land registry records) with a total listed price of $2,995K which means they sold for 56% of total asking price. These houses weren't even finished. The new owners (a numbered company) purchased a whole lot of this:
The next lowest percent of asking was 63% for a piece of vacant land that Metrolinx was selling right beside the tracks, so Brooklawn "wins" by a safe margin.
In a similar vein
You may also be interested in this post, where I ranked all 144 neighbourhoods based on detached sales prices to find Toronto's most and least expensive neighbourhoods in 2018. See where your neighbourhood ended up, see which hoods climbed the rankings most quickly, or read the companion post of 2018's biggest gainers and losers to find out which hood had the biggest percentage growth or the biggest dollar growth. Stay tuned for the 2019 lists, coming soon.