2013 has been an interesting year for Toronto Realtors. Prices have continued to increase in the City of Toronto (the average selling price in June was up by 4.7 per cent year-over-year to $531,374). There were 9,061 sales through the Toronto MLS system in June 2013 - down by less than one per cent compared to June 2012. Over the same period, new Toronto MLS Listings were down by a greater rate than sales, suggesting market conditions became tighter.
So what's a first time Toronto home buyer to do? Affordability remains a problem in Toronto and York regions. Real estate in Toronto is not cheap, and most Toronto neighbourhoods have gotten out of reach of first time buyers, unless they are willing to compromise and buy a condo. Some purchasers would rather have a house. Toronto Real Estate Agents have suggested Durham region as an option for buyers to find the home of their dreams.
Durham region is just east of the City of Toronto, and some of its major townships/cities include Pickering, Ajax, Whitby and Oshawa. This year, Toronto Century 21 realtors have seen increased interest in this region from home buyers. It's relatively accessible (401, 407, Taunton Road or Highway 2 can get you to Durham in a reasonable time), and buyers can get a lot more for their money. For example, it's still possible to get a double car garage detached home with a finished basement in Durham for less than $400K in 2013. That kind of home can easily cost upwards of $650K in the City of Toronto, or in Markham. Pickering homes for sale are especially desirable, as it's the closest town to Toronto, but all Durham cities/towns are doing well this year. Multiple offers are becoming the 'norm' in that area, particularly in the $400K budget range.
My thoughts are as follows: It really comes down to your lifestyle and what your requirements are. Compromises are required, and Durham, while offering more real estate for your money, also requires more commute times. Some people cannot tolerate this, given already hectic schedules and lives. If one is willing to live with extra commute times, and prioritizes/desires more space over convenience, then any of the cities/towns in Durham may be the way to go.
Your Toronto Century 21 realtor should be able to assist you in making an appropriate decision. Consult with him/her and ask for advice and recommendations, as well as pros and cons. Take the drive out there a few times, especially in rush hour, and see if it's something you can live with. It's quite possible that Durham offers you what you've been looking for, at the right price!
Ram Rajendram is a Toronto Real Estate Broker with Century 21 Harvest Realty Ltd. He sells condos and houses throughout the GTA, and assists home and condo buyers with their purchasing needs. He is also a Canadian Chartered Accountant and holds a Bachelors Degree in Economics from the London School of Economics (LSE)