In February, real estate in the city of Toronto broke another record on price appreciation when the price of the average detached home reached $2-million for the first time.
Toronto has seen multi-million-dollar homes selling by the handful in recent years and there are some entire neighbourhoods where $2-million won’t buy you much, but for the average of detached home to get there was a new thing, a psychological barrier broken. It wasn’t that long ago the average resale price for all homes (including apartments, semis and townhouses) crossed the million dollar mark, which set off a wave of affordability hand-wringing.
So what exactly is $2-million worth today? Here are five examples of homes listed for $2-million across the country:
In February and (so far in) March of 2022, about 20 detached homes have sold in Vancouver around the $2-million mark according to Douglas Gibson, associate realtor with Stilhavn Real Estate Services. Across the greater Vancouver region the average price of a detached home is $2,288,072 – so if you’re below the average, some of those homes are not going to be showpieces.
“I’m looking at these houses and, holy moley, you’re not super stoked. Those are not amazing homes,” Mr. Gibson said. Oftentimes, the actual house is significantly less valuable than the land it sits on. Many of the $2-million homes are some version of the Vancouver Special, where the owner might live in 1,100 square feet while a renter lives in a similar size unit on the ground floor or in a basement suite.
Mr. Gibson recently listed a charming house – built in 1931 but recently given a high-end renovation, complete with a basement income unit – on a corner lot at 1795 E 34th Ave. for $1,999,988. The house ended up selling significantly over asking, but Mr. Gibson would not reveal the final purchase price as the deal was still in probate. “It’s in the middle of East Vancouver,” an area he said that had a rough and “edgy” reputation in the 1980s but these days is, “hip and historic.”
With dark stucco and stained wood exterior elements 72 Patterson Cres. looks like a fairly standard modern suburban split-level home. Inside is something else entirely.
Fully renovated in 2017 with interior design by one of the city’s top firms, Cridland Associates, the main room of the 6,000-square-foot house is an atrium that opens to a second-level mezzanine balcony that showcases an enormous mural by the late local artist Jason Gogo.
“This house is very high end and very custom: not everybody wants an apple-red kitchen,” said Lisa Atkins, sales representative with Century 21 Bravo Realty. With a list price of $2.075-million, she is pushing the expectations for the neighbourhood: “This house is definitely the jewel amongst them. … If we took that house and moved it to a more affluent neighbourhood [it] would be over $3-million and it would probably sell in 12 hours with multiple bids.”
In February, the average selling price for detached homes in the city of Calgary hit $677,652 (up 15 per cent year over year). That average draws attention: “Toronto thinks we’re on sale – we’ve had clients say ‘we’ll take these five houses,’” Ms. Atkins said. “You guys [from Toronto] are really helping the market.”
There are five houses for sale in Toronto for more than $20-million as of late March, so maybe it’s a bargain to something for 10 times less.
Take the two-storey house 17 Ferrier Ave. – about a half-block north of Danforth Avenue near Pape Avenue – that’s listed for $1,949,900. Sales representative Thalia Kiriopoulos with Keller Williams Referred Realty helped her investor client purchase the home in 2017. “He never lived there; when he first purchased it was tenanted, so he was renting it for a couple years,” she said, until he gave those folks their notice and renovated the space top to bottom.
The interior is what you might call flip-for-sale chic: Light hardwood floors, open-concept main room all the finishes done in white or glass. Three bedrooms upstairs (primary bed with en suite bath and front-porch balcony access), two in the basement, four bathrooms total.
Ms. Kiriopoulos is realistic about where the heated market is and is not holding offers and doesn’t expect the home to sell over the asking price. “I think he [her client] was expecting over $2-million for this house, but it’s not worth over $2-million,” she said. “He’ll still make a great profit.” According to HouseSigma.com data, the home was bought for $1.095-million in 2017.
In the third-most expensive borough of Montreal, $2-million will buy you a fixer-upper on a big lot with room to grow, according to Kyle Shapcott, broker with Re/Max Du Cartier.
He is listing 428 Walpole Ave. in the Town of Mont Royal (a post-war inner suburb on the Island of Montreal) for $2,095,000, and could get more if it had a newer kitchen and updated bathrooms. “It’s got the charm of a 1930s home, rare for the neighborhood … and it’s got all the bones for somebody to make something really exceptional of it,” Mr. Shapcott said.
At the end of 2021 average prices for detached homes were $950,675 on the Island, that’s up 14 per cent year over year, in the Mont-Royal Plateau area detached home prices averaged just under $1.3-million by the end of 2021. “You’re looking about a 10- to 12-per-cent rise in prices per year since the pandemic started,” said Mr. Shapcott, but who also said the bilingual Westmount and Mont Royal Westmount areas (No. 1 and No. 3 most expensive neighourhoods) have seen faster price growth than mainly French Outrement. That, he says, can be explained in part to the influence of foreign buyers who went from 5 per cent of home purchasers in Mont Royal prior to 2017 to more than 25 per cent today.
The closest any sales in Halifax came to $2-million in February was a $1.8-million sale, so it takes a special property to break the $2-million mark.
That’s what Sandra Bryant, broker for Bryant Realty Atlantic, says she has with 810 Young Ave., a stately address near Point Pleasant Park. “You’re on the main street of Halifax,” Ms. Bryant said. “This street is made up of established older homes and extremely wealthy people. If you went three or four doors to the right you’ll see one of the richest people in the East Coast, he built a mansion and he’s into his home for $20-million.”
Built in 1918, the 5,700-square-foot, seven-bedroom, five-bathroom does need some updates but a key feature is a spectacular half-acre lot facing southwest. It was initially listed at $2-million, it’s now advertised at $2.59-million.
It’s a lot more than the average Ontario buyer – who Ms. Bryant said she deals with every day – is looking to spend, but there are deals to be had elsewhere. In February, the Halifax-Dartmouth area saw average sale prices reach $634,406 for a detached home, which is double or more than every other community in Nova Scotia except for the Annapolis Valley where prices averaged $393,537 in February.
Your house is your most valuable asset. We have a weekly Real Estate newsletter to help you stay on top of news on the housing market, mortgages, the latest closings and more. Sign up today.