Toronto's most and least expensive neighbourhoods in 2020
Tuesday Apr 20th, 2021
Are you curious which of the 144 Toronto neighbourhoods are the most expensive? The least expensive? Yeah, me too, so I dug into it. You will find interactive maps down the page, showing averaged detached prices for all neighbourhoods and which areas had the highest % gains, but first...
A little background
I've been doing this for a few years now. For example, here are the most and least expensive neighbourhoods for 2019 and 2018. Last year I published a companion post that showed which areas went up (and down) by the largest dollar amount and percentage; this year I'll keep it in one post.
I only use detached house prices, to keep things more apples-to-apples across the city. Comparing straight average prices across the city—when one neighbourhood could be 90% condo apartments and 10% semis, and another has 100% detached houses—isn't quite fair. And some areas have more attached housing types (e.g. rowhouses, townhouses, semi-detached) in the mix. Detached is far and away from the most prominent housing type in the city (it's been between 70% to 72% of freehold transactions in each of the last four years) so it seems the most appropriate. Also when I say city, I am once again concentrating on just the City of Toronto (i.e. the 416 area code, or places where the postal code begins with M). I use median prices if they were easily available since they're less influenced by extremely high or low sales, but the TRREB data set I pull it from doesn't have medians so I use average prices. I used to put more context and methodology up front, but this time I'm moving it to the bottom and starting with the price map, followed by the lists of most and least expensive. So let's get to it.
The price map
First a couple of notes. This map has 140 neighbourhoods, while TRREB has 144. That's due to this map having one area where it combined 3 TRREB hoods, and two areas they combined 2 TRREB hoods. In those combination instances I added all the TRREB sales and prices for the multiple hoods to get an average that matches the combined entity on the map. There are also a couple of name changes to note, most of them slight.
Old East York (map) = E03 East York (TRREB)
Danforth East York (map) = E03 Danforth Village-East York (TRREB)
Taylor-Massey (map) = E03 Crescent Town (TRREB)
Humber Heights-Westmount (map) = W09 Humber Heights (TRREB)
Leaside-Bennington (map) = C11 Leaside (TRREB)
Oakwood Village (map) = C03 Oakwood-Vaughan (TRREB)
Pelmo Park-Humberlea (map) = Humberlea-Pelmo Park W4 + Humberlea-Pelmo Park W5 (TRREB)
Waterfront Communities-The Island (map) = Waterfront Communities C1 + Waterfront Communities C8 + The Islands C1 (TRREB - there are no detached sales in these areas anyway)
Rouge (map) = Rouge E10 + Rouge E11 (TRREB)
The most expensive list
Here are the 15 neighbourhoods with the highest average sold price in 2020. You can see that central zones dominate, with 14 of the top 15 most expensive neighbourhoods (last year it was 13 of the 15, with 1 in the west, and 1 in the east). Throughout this I will use blue for central, red for the west, and yellow for east. I'm using top 15 lists as there are 144 official TREB neighbourhoods so that's about the top 10%. You will see numbers in brackets beside the hood name. That's the number of MLS sales transactions during 2020. That's important because hoods like The Annex (27 sales) may not be as solid a number as a place with a higher sample size like 100 sales, and can have wilder year-to-year swings.
In this year are: Kingsway South, Banbury-Don Mills, and Yonge-Eglinton.
Out are: Trinity-Bellwoods, Playter Estates-Danforth, and Edenbridge-Humber Valley. In the case of TB and PED, those are low detached transaction places so likely a few expensive transactions brought them up last year.
Of the 136 neighbourhoods with at least one detached sale in 2020, 107 of them now have an average price of over $1 million. Or if you prefer, there are only 29 neighbourhoods left under $1 million. There was a big jump this past year in $1MM and $2MM neighbourhoods:
Bridle Path retains the Most Expensive Neighbourhood crown
At the top of the list above you'll find Bridle Path-Sunnybrook-York Mills (BPSYM). Ho-hum. Each year I've looked at this since 2016 it has been #1, with Forest Hill South coming in at #2. BPSYM reached the $5MM mark again, as it did in 2017. It had 4 of the 12 sales in the city last year that were above $10MM and also recorded the most expensive sale at $23MM. You can see how those would bring up an average. The median detached sold price was "only" $4,345K (up from a median of $4,300K in 2019).
I'd also like to point out a couple of things here. First, as you may suspect given BPSYM's long name, the actual "Bridle Path" (outlined in yellow below) makes up just a portion of the zone. And just a portion of the sales (7 of the 73 sales in 2020).
So what does an average-priced detached home in BPSYM in 2020 look like? Well this 2+2 bedroom (+1 means it's below-grade) and 4 bathroom house on a 80' x 130' lot sold for within $20K of the area's $5,104K average price. (The listing notes the original plans were for 4 bedrooms above grade but they're using it as a 2 bedroom but it is "easily converted back to 4.")
The listing touts it as an "Architecturally Stunning Custom Home" with "Top Quality & Utmost Attention To Detail." It was built in 2010. It's situated on a corner lot:
The backyard is certainly nice and treed.
The cathedral ceilings make it feel airy.
And of course it has a wine cellar:
Mount Dennis defends its Least Expensive title
It's interesting to look back and see as recently as 2015 the number of neighbourhoods with detached houses averaging $750K or less (54) was about the same as the number of million-dollar neighbourhoods (52). Now with Mount Dennis jumping from $653K to $780K in the last year, there are no neighbourhoods under $750K.
And there are now more neighbourhoods over $2 million (32) than there are left under $1 million (29). Here were the 15 least expensive neighbourhoods in 2020.
I added the columns to the right to show the upward pressure on the low end of the market. The city-wide average price of a detached house went up 18.7% from 2016 to 2020. You can see every single one of these "15 least expensive" neighbourhoods went up by more than 18.7%, and four of them went up over double that rate. There is so much competition for people just trying to get into the low rise segment of the market.
Let's talk about W4 Mount Dennis ($780K average, up $127K (19.4%) in the year from $653K). It is bordered by the railway tracks running diagonally on its east side roughly parallel to Weston Rd, reaches a little bit south of Eglinton on the south, and has the Humber River as its western boundary with Jane Street running north/south through the middle of it. It has long had a blue collar vibe, growing up around the now shuttered Kodak plant. The westernmost terminus of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is on its edge (which is planned to be a big transit hub including a stop on the Kitchener GO Transit line), and personally think this area has a good upside because of that. Heck even this article from 2012 says the same thing.
Demographically, according to the City of Toronto's 2016 Neighbourhood Profile on Mount Dennis, you can see the blue collar-ness, with only 18.3% of residents holding a bachelor's degree, compared to 44.1% for the city as a whole. The median household income ($52K) is below Toronto's median ($66K), and more residents receive government transfers and are below the poverty line.
Yet the average detached home costs $780K here now, or almost 15 times that median family income (granted the income is from 2016 but even if it grew 2% a year it would've been $64,644 in 2020 so still a house costs 12 times more.
Here's an example of average-priced detached home from 2020. This is a bungalow on a 29' x 134' lot with 2 bedrooms upstairs and 1 in the basement. It's across the street from a park near the southeast corner of Jane & Eglinton (Eglinton Flats).
Taking a peek inside, you're not going to get "stunning" for this price point, but it looks to very well-maintained (the owner had lived their for 13 years).
The Who's Hot and Who's Not list (and heat map)
The one geographical pattern I noticed is that 3 of the 4 E08 neighbourhoods made the top 15: Eglinton East, Scarborough Village, and Guildwood. E08 runs along the water from Midland (just west of the Scarborough Bluffs) to Morningside (just past the Guild Inn and Guildwood) - though Eglinton East is landlocked, being the one part of E08 that runs north of Kingston Road.
The rest of the neighbourhoods are (literally) all over the map. It's interesting to see Henry Farm at the top again. It was at the top of the list back in super-heated 2016, when it's year-over-year (y/y) increase was an eye-popping 48.8%, or $511K. In the years 2017 through 2019 it went +$53K, -196K, -$50K, and this year it went +$394K to gain back the value lost in the last few years and reach its current $1,759K average price. However with this is one of those low-volume neighbourhoods I cautioned about earlier, and you'll notice in brackets that there were only 13 transactions last year. One of them was at $4.2M, which was $1.9M more than the next closest one. If that sale didn't happen, or happened a few months later, then the area average would've been $1,556K instead of $1759K. So again, neighbourhoods with smaller volumes are subject to wilder swings.
Speaking of which:
You see the top 3 (and three of the only four hoods that saw average price declines in 2020) all had sales volumes in the twenties for last year. The average across the city was 72. So with the neighbourhoods with small transactions, a few big sales can make a big upward swing one year, then if those sales don't materialize in the next year, then you've got yourself a swing. In the case of Trinity-Bellwoods it hit the top spot in average price change in 2018 with a +28.0%. In 2019 it grew a further 7.4% to $2,340K. That was on 13 sales, 3 of which were over $3 million. In 2020 there were 24 sales, but only 2 of them were over $3 million and the average fell to $2,103K. If we look at the median sale in Trinity-Bellwoods it pretty much stayed the same, being $2,000K in 2019 and $1,995K in 2020 (as opposed to the average falling $137K).
For the rest of the list that has a lot higher sales to report, you can feel more confident that yes, these were among the slowest (or highest) growing neighbourhoods in the city.
Big dollar gainers
Finally, here are the neighbourhoods that saw the highest gain in average price. They aren't necessarily the same as the "Hot 15" above (which is percentages), but 7 of the 15 are the same. The ones that are in the big dollar list but not the big percent list are high-priced hoods where it doesn't take a large percentage gain to get a big dollar gaine, like Casa Loma which is currently sitting at an average price of almost $3.565K.
Context and background information
To help with some of those E03, C15 references, here's a map of the 35 TRREB zones for Toronto:
Within each of those zones, there are multiple neighbourhoods ("communities" in TRREB's parlance). Here's how the 144 TRREB neighbourhoods are distributed:
West: 10 zones / 49 neighbourhoods
Central: 14 zones / 54 neighbourhoods
East: 11 zones / 41 neighbourhoods
The above map is online here. To see a close-up of any of the zones to determine the boundaries of your own neighbourhood, just tick the communities box in the upper right and zoom in. This is what you see if you zoomed in on C13:
For historical context, here's how the 416 detached average price has progressed the last few years (with annual detached volumes in brackets):
2015: $1,047,400 (11,985)
2016: $1,252,300 (12,359)
2017: $1,421,000 (9,509)
2018: $1,321,800 (7,907)
2019: $1,319,000 (9,327)
2020: $1,478,600 (9,7230)
There is a lot of noise in those last 6 years. You can see sales volumes rebounded in 2019 after a low in 2018. The craziest (non-pandemic) year was 2017, which you may remember was all hot and heavy for the first 4 months until the Ontario government brought in the Fair Housing Plan and that was enough to radically alter the psychology of the market and buyers hit the brakes. So detached volumes dropped in 2017 by 23%, but average prices for all transactions that year increased by 13.5% (driven by early-year transactions). We are now up over the 2017 peak average price for the year.
I want to note that averages can hide a lot of movement beneath. But other measures also show detached prices moving upward.
- The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) single-family detached price for the City of Toronto in the last 3 Decembers:
2018 - $1,097.4K
2019 - $1,157.1K
2020 - $1,271.2K
- The median neighbourhood's average price (neighbourhoods with 10 or more detached sales) progressed like this:
2018 - $1053K (127 hoods)
2019 - $1,110K (130 hoods)
2020 - $1,287K (130 hoods, C15 Pleasant View and E03 O'Connor-Parkview were the median ones)
- The amount of qualifying neighbourhoods with declining average prices is in the minority. In 2020 it was 4 (all more expensive than the median and will lower transactions so subject to more year-to-year variation). Amount of decliners per year:
Here's a list of the neighbourhoods with the lowest detached sales. The 14 you see with under 10 sales were excluded from the analysis above. For the most part the housing in these areas are dominated by purpose-built rental apartments or condominiums.
About Scott Ingram CPA, CA, MBA
Would you like to make better-informed real estate decisions? I believe knowledge is power. For that reason I invest a lot of time researching and analyzing data and trends in the Toronto real estate market. My Chartered Accountant (CPA, CA) side also compels me to perform a lot more due diligence on properties my clients are interested in purchasing. If you have better information, you should have less risk and be in a position to make better decisions for your hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Your home is the single largest investment you'll make - trust it with an accountant.
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