With shrinking condo sizes and skyrocketing rents, there’s at least one place renters may still find a deal: The Bridle Path.
A five-bedroom mansion on Shady Oaks Cres. — that clocks in at about 6,100 square feet — is listed for $6,000 a month, around the rental price of two basic two-bedroom apartments downtown.
But unlike most downtown units, the mansion — described as an “architectural wonder” on the listing on realtor.ca — also comes with an in-ground pool, a parking garage and room for eight vehicles, and two rooms described on the listing as for “games.”
Scarcity of typical rental options combined with a cooling luxury housing market means renters may be able to better stretch their budget by upsizing, says Jim Burtnick, a real estate professional with Sotheby’s International Realty who specializes in luxury properties.
He said there’s been a growing trend of high-end property owners putting their luxurious houses up for rent in the past few years.
“Houses are actually more economical to rent,” Burtnick said, noting condominiums tend to be favoured by renters due to walkability, lower upkeep and bundled rent and utility costs, but demand often outstrips availability in a city like Toronto, where the rental vacancy rate is at 1.1 per cent as of 2017.
“It’s making more sense for people to look at houses as alternatives,” he said.
The Shady Oaks mansion is not the only luxury property in the ritzy North York neighbourhood trying to attract renters instead of buyers. A listing for a four-bedroom house at the “prestigious” 1 The Bridle Path asks $6,500 a month in rent. Another six-bedroom mansion a few blocks north features a 700-square-foot outdoor pool and is also listed for $6,500.
And if you’re looking for true glamour, like an indoor pool or space for 23 cars, there’s a seven-bedroom sprawling estate for rent on Park Lane Circle for $15,000 a month — which, split between 7 roommates, would still be cheaper than the average downtown one-bedroom apartment ($2,520 a month, according to housing research firm Urbanation).
The Shady Oaks house last sold in January 2018 for $4.58 million. In the first few months of 2019, compared to 2018, sales of luxury $4 million-plus properties went down by 36 per cent in the GTA, according to a March market update by Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.
Toronto’s high-end rental market is now in a holding pattern, Burtnick said, and so investors with no pressing need to sell have been more likely to rent properties.
“(Property owners) are under no duress, or else they would be putting it up for sale,” Burtnick said.
Ying Chen, a salesperson for Forest Hill Real Estate who represents the Park Lane Circle property, says the owners have listed the property for lease and for sale — at a price tag of $12.5 million — at the same time and are waiting to see which will happen first.
“It’s not like they prefer the lease over the sale, they also want the sale as well,” Chen said.
She said all of the showings for the 2.4-acre estate, which boasts five bedrooms in the main house and another two in the pool house, have been for people interested in leasing.
Louie Iaboni, a real estate agent representing the owner of a three-bedroom home with in-ground pool in York Mills that’s listed for $5,900 a month, says the owner is hoping to redevelop and live on the property in the future, but is renting the home in the meantime.
Speaking generally, he said, “The reason why (people are renting) is that the market values are not where they thought they would be … so rather than sell something for less than what that they would have anticipated, property values in terms of rental are at an all-time high.”
And Adam Brind, a broker for Core Assets Real Estate who’s helping owners of a Rosedale property rent the space for an asking price of $13,000 a month, added, “People just don’t want to move, too expensive and the cost to move up to a bigger house is just too great.”
He said homeowners who do move are keeping their original home as an investment property, capitalizing on rising rents.
And with such an overcooked housing market, renting is the most financially viable option for many. A recently released Global Living report from CBRE, a real estate and investment firm, found Toronto was the 12th most expensive place to buy a home out of 35 major cities and, though low on the list for average rent, it was 9th in terms of rising rent. Last year, according to the report, Toronto saw a 4.8 per cent increase in rental growth.
Demand for rental properties is being generated by professionals moving to Toronto to work in the tech industry, downsizing baby boomers and millennials who are unable to afford purchasing a home, according to the report.
“The market in general is being pushed up higher and there’s nothing anyone can do anymore but just sort of be priced out of markets where they were traditionally able to buy,” Brind said.
“There’s a lot of people who have been in Toronto and some of these neighbourhoods for years … but would never be able to buy in their neighbourhood now.”
With files from Emma Sandri
Alexandra Jones is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @AlexandraMaeJ
Rhianna Jackson-Kelso is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @RhiannaJK