One of the great things about living in Toronto is whatever condo you may call home, there’s a pretty big chance you’ll have a view worth buying over. As Toronto market gets more intense, a great view could become that much pricier entry on your dream real estate checklist.
There are many, many areas with great views, says Jamie Sarner, a realtor with PSR Brokerage. And Sarner would know, as a 15 year veteran of real estate, his first transaction was a condo in Yorkville - and his focus is on the communities of Rosedale, Yorkville, Cedarvale, Moore Park, Hillcrest and Yonge and St. Clair. Considering he’s always called downtown home - in the communities of Bathurst, St. Clair and Yorkville, he knows his way around the city.
Where to buy?
Who doesn't want to have a photography-worthy view from his condo window? You might think it's a matter of luck, finding a unit with great views. Realtors might disagree. There are particular streets, even neighbourhoods that can make all the difference. St. Clair, in particular, Sarner says, is worth buying for the view alone.
Anything on St. Clair facing south. The higher floors have an incredible view.
St. Clair has a storied history in Toronto, stemming from the mid-1800s when it was laid out as the third concession road in the city. Concession roads were the byways on which settlers coming to Toronto could build their homes. The St. Clair municipalities of Earlscourt, Dovercourt and Oakwood were annexed by the City of Toronto in the early 1900s. You have a great chance to getting a great view of a spot of greenery from your potential window.
Another one of the best views in the neighbourhood Sarner says, are those along 61st and 63rd Avenues overlooking St. Michael’s Cemetery. Some might find it strange, putting a price on cemetery view, but it has its perks:
"It’s a clear view and the buyers are not in jeopardy of losing it."
Current sales/new condo availability in the area of Summer Hill/Deer Park where one can take advantage of those views overlooking St. Michael's and the rest of the city are Blue Diamond at Imperial Village, One O One Apartments, 1421 Yonge Street and The Jack Condo.
You can also admire some good views overlooking nearby David A. Balfour Park through properties at Rosehill Tower. If waterfront views are more up your alley, you could check out availability at Ten York, 1 Yonge, Aquabella or Lighthouse East Tower.
Lighthouse Tower by Daniels Waterfront
What to consider while buying for the view?
There are several factors to consider while hunting for a dreamy view within a future home.
Which way are the windows situated could make or break your dreams about the view, even when buying in one of the recommended neighbourhoods and streets. Make sure the windows in the most used room face exactly what you want to see. Living near a park or historical landmark won't do you any good if the only thing you can see from your living room is a brick wall.
The bedroom view can sure be pretty, but when you close your blinds at night, you don't get to enjoy it much. Also if your bedroom window overlooks a park, there might be a lot of disturbing and unwanted noise coming in the morning or at night.
Another thing worth checking is how much daylight comes trough the windows during the day. Most south-facing windows get much more sunlight than those on the north side. If you want to wake up with the sun, look for east facing bedrooms. If on the other hand, like to lie in on the weekends and enjoy the sun during the day, rooms facing west will do the trick.
Another factor that plays into view quality is floor number in which the apartment is situated. The rule is simple, the higher floor, the better, much clearer view on the adjacent properties. Basically, owning a unit with great views isn't for people afraid of heights.
Nearby vacant lots
It's important to consider factors that could obstruct the view in the future when you are buying for the view. Empty lots in the proximity, even though they can provide a patch of green you can look at for the time, can be very hazardous neighbours for the future. If that patch of green is just an empty lot, there's a good chance there are plans already for building another condominium building in that very space. So not only you can lose your view, but there's also the inconvenience of construction happening just outside your window.
Toronto Construction by Neil Howard
It's not always the view, that can make a great home. Sometimes it's the essence and culture of the neighbourhood itself, says Gabrielle Domanski, who calls Withrow Park home.
"It was generally really lovely. Very green, full of dogs and families and houses with porches."
St. Clair isn’t the only sought after community in the city. Sarner pointed out buyers are guaranteed great views really anywhere they may live in the city as long as they’re higher up.
Monthly publication Toronto Life compiled a list of the best neighbourhoods in Toronto to call home with Yonge-Eglinton, Casa Loma, Playter-Estates Danforth, Runnymede-Bloor West Village and Lawrence Park North rounding out the top five.
Toronto, in general, is also a highly sought after place, being named the third best metro area in which to live and work in a study released by PricewaterhouseCoopers last year. The report stated while Toronto may be chilly for a good part of the year, it's strong economy and "high quality of life can exist very happily a bit farther from the madding crowd," referring to cities to the south in the United States.
The study did show however that, Toronto has room for improvement when it comes to things like traffic and transit.
Will buyers pay more for a home with a great view?
"Every buyer is different," explained Sarner. Most Torontonians still prefer having a backyard before having a view, but many discovered the beauty of condominiums. Mostly downtown city dwellers will look for a view and will pay the price that comes with suitably facing condo. For those willing to pay for the price of both a view and luxury living, there are some top properties available in the city, as of early May, including:
- Penthouse 6 on 77 Avenue Road, listed at $5.199M
- Suite 3603 at 50 Yorkville Avenue - Sarner's early stomping grounds - listed at $5.399M
- Suite 5401 overlooking the harbour at Waterfront on 16 Harbour Street for $7.25M
- Penthouse 3 at the Annex on 88 Davenport Road listed for $15.8M.
While views can definitely help a sale, Sarner said, some of the top amenities buyers are seeking from him include swimming pools, easy access to transit, valet parking, gyms and 24-hour concierge.
Sarner added Toronto is currently in the midst of the "strongest market we’ve ever seen", so the view may not be first and foremost on the buyer's mind as much as finding a home within their budget.
Sometimes just living close enough to a great view can be the difference between buying a new home or not. Indie88's Adam Steel created a list of some of the best views in the city, saying they are "so impressive they leave the competition in the dust" and included the Dufferin Bridge, Leslie Street Spit, Chester Hill Lookout, High Park and the Gardiner Expressway.
Some advice Sarner has for Torontonians looking for a new place to call home (with a good view) and to avoid potential bidding wars if they’re willing to wait for construction is to register with new development sales centres as people know the set price for a property and can budget accordingly.
New developments coming online for the city include:
- St. Clair Village by Frontdoor Developments (taking registrations)
- 1 Yonge Street (sales pending)
- Omega on the Park Condos (now selling)
- Plaza Midtown Condos (taking registrations)
One doesn't always have to pay top dollar for a view as condo properties in the Toronto area average about $521,824, compared to an average of $393,858 in the first quarter of 2016, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) and there are more condos coming to the market.
TREB reported there were 33.6 per cent more listings in April 2017 compared to the same month last year, so if it's a condo you're looking to buy, with or without a good view, now is a great time to browse.