People are changing the way they think of home and what they need to feel safe, productive and fulfilled. The luxury real estate market has been listening carefully and is attracting people of all ages and stages to invest in luxury residences that meet their changing needs.
Cailey Heaps, president and chief executive officer for real estate giant Heaps Estrin in Toronto, has seen a change in who is buying luxury in Toronto since the onset of the pandemic. Heaps has worked in the real estate industry since the 1990s, eventually taking over the company that was started by her mother, Heather Heaps. Since 2010, Heaps Estrin has grown by 1,700 per cent, with $1.2-billion in sales since the pandemic began.
Heaps says the pandemic has influenced how people think of home.
“It used to be that your home was just your home,” Heaps says. “Now it’s also your office. It’s your child’s classroom. It’s your cottage and your weekend residence. The needs that people have within a home have changed drastically. Today, it’s about putting all of your real estate investment into one property and making it your everything.”
Janice Fox is the broker of record for Hazelton Real Estate Inc. in Toronto, a brokerage with deep expertise in and focus on the luxury market in Toronto. Fox has worked on projects for many clients, including Menkes Developments Ltd.’s boutique condominium Maison 77 Clarendon, located in the prestigious South Hill neighbourhood at Russell Hill Road and Clarendon Avenue.
She says luxury buyers’ desire to have everything translates to mud rooms, home offices, plenty of space to entertain and live as a family without feeling crowded or in one another’s way, as well as services to make life easier.
“My conversations with buyers are very different today,” Fox says. “Outdoor spaces become a much bigger conversation. They want to know the size of the space and whether they can entertain there. They’re not looking for a small patio; they want an outdoor room. And they want top-tier services and conveniences.”
That’s where Maison 77 Clarendon excels. It features 20-foot by 15-foot balconies with panoramic views of the city, featuring gas bibbs for barbecuing and hose bibbs for gardening. Nestled among trees and surrounded by walking trails and parks, 77 Clarendon offers an urban oasis for buyers of all ages. Its around-the-clock concierge services act like a personal assistant, an amenity that has become especially important for those working from home. Spaces for entertaining, business meetings and self care abound with a dining area and large entertainment space, health spa, swim spa and yoga studio. The homes, starting at $4.5-million, are spacious, ranging from 2,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet, allowing buyers to customize their spaces for their everyday lives.
In the past two years, Heaps says a new type of buyer of luxury properties has emerged in Toronto: the millennial.
“Buyers of luxury are younger and more diverse than ever before,” Heaps says. “While there is a lot of intergenerational wealth being transferred, many of our current buyers of luxury residences are entrepreneurs in their 30s who have been wildly successful in tech, cannabis and other sectors,” she says.
Heaps says young buyers are undeterred by the possibility of rising interest rates and are looking for ways to invest their wealth.
“If you’re 30, you haven’t experienced the interest rates of the 1970s and 1980s,” Heaps says. “It’s not something they worry about. They’re confident in the market and in their abilities to generate an income.”
With a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, Toronto is fast becoming a sought-after destination for young entrepreneurs who want to live and work in in the city. In the report “A city of entrepreneurs: Building a supply chain of innovation” from MaRS Discovery District’s Innovation Economy Council, Toronto gained more tech jobs – almost 70,000 more – than any North American city barring San Francisco, between 2016 and 2020. In 2020, in the depths of a pandemic, venture capitalists invested $1.2-billion in Toronto companies.
“There are young people who’ve made big money in crypto, tech or a business venture they started. They have a keen interest in new luxury condominiums,” Fox says. “They don’t want to renovate a house; they are ready to go now, and they want top-of-the-line everything.”
She says many of them are well-versed in technology and are looking for remote or touchless alternatives in security systems, elevators and front-door access, as well as in heating and cooling.
“It’s caused developers like Menkes to really think about how to respond, including the ability to open your front door using your smartphone, porters to operate elevators and other modern conveniences,” she says.
Interest in luxury residences continues to rise as well among families from different countries and from multigenerational families who want to live together. Heaps says she’s seeing more buyers with significant amounts of wealth moving to Toronto from around the world. The trend is likely to continue. According to Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, 2021 saw a gradual increase in enquiries on luxury properties, reflecting an ongoing and pent-up demand from expatriates, new Canadians and permanent residents who are expected to flow into the country as travel restrictions ease.
“The tapestry of neighbourhoods that are known for their luxury residences is so much more diverse with different ages and cultural backgrounds,” Heaps says. “It’s been wonderful to see.”
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.