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John Helfrich, Broker, Real Estate Homeward , Brokerage | 416.698.2090 | Direct: 416.464.8920 |

How to Buy Your Downtown Toronto Condo For the Best Price

April 27, 2011


There are at least 7 critical issues every Buyer must consider when you’re trying to buy a Downtown Toronto Condo for the best price. I’m going to use 111 Elizabeth Street – One City Hall, to explain what affects price - and value.

Location of course

The Toronto real estate market has lots of well situated condo buildings but the One City Hall location is the definition of convenience. Bay and Dundas is the nearest intersection but really you’re at the intersection of the Financial, Entertainment, University and Hospital Districts! I can’t imagine a more long term, high-demand area. For Downtown Toronto Condos, it’s as close as possible to recession-proof .

Floor Plan: Don’t make decisions based solely on cost-per-square-foot.

It’s common to base the value of a unit on the average cost per square foot of other units in the same building. That works ok for identical units, but not all floor plans are created equal. The ‘22’ unit in One City Hall is only about 582 square feet, but has an incredibly efficient design that makes it easy to place furniture. It has long sight lines (makes the space seem larger) a high ratio of window space to floor space, and no wasted-space hallways. So it feels like it’s about 100 ft larger. On the other hand, some of the larger downtown Toronto condos with angled walls and long hallways provide less usable space and should sell for less per square foot.

Amenities vs Maintenance Fees: Be Careful What You Wish For!

By now most people understand that every one of the amenities the building offers has a price tag attached. Choosing the right building means finding the features you want with the lowest monthly maintenance fees. One City Hall did a great job, providing features that owners actually use. There’s both a gym and workout room, spacious two level party room, lap pool, sauna and whirlpool, and a rooftop garden that’s great for relaxing. Since it’s located in a high foot-traffic neighbourhood, it’s nice that there’s a 24 hour concierge for security too. The cost for this in 2011 is about .65 per foot, well within the norms for Toronto Condos downtown.

Exposure | Views | Sightlines

A big part of the appeal and value of your Toronto condo suite is your view. But the view outside your unit is beyond your control. If it changes, so will your property value. That’s why the West facing ‘22’ units are in such demand. As I write this they have long sight lines down Dundas into the sunset. But for all the units with East Exposures, there’s now a new 29 storey building rising at 570 Bay St. that will rob much of the natural light. It’s too early to tell, but it appears today that you’ll be able to have ‘balcony conversations’ with the new neighbours. As much as I love One City Hall, I’m not sure I’d like to buy an East facing unit today. So when you’re buying your downtown Toronto condo, watch out for:vacant lots across from you, empty or underused buildings in your sight line and low rise buildings (even with historical designation) that could be built up.


Toronto Real Estate Builders will often charge a premium of $1,000 per floor to get a higher unit in a new building. But you should know that this premium doesn’t stay with the unit. Over time there’s a ‘flattening-out’ of prices from floor to floor, but in general the higher floors usually sell for a bit more. After all, they usually have a better view, there’s less street noise, more light and less chance of losing your view to a new construction.

On the other hand, there are longer wait times for the elevator and some people have concerns about getting down the stairs if there’s ever a power failure.

Leasehold Agreements

One of the reasons I’m using One city Hall for reference, is that it’s one of the buildings that offered the original Buyers the option of leasing the heat pump (think combined furnace and A/C) instead of buying it. That kept the purchase price down, even though it increased monthly costs, and most people chose this option. But when you buy the unit today, your monthly fees are $35 to $40 higher. It may not be a big deal to you, but you ought to know you don’t own this fixture before you make an offer.


I always thought that one of the perks of owning a Downtown Toronto Condo was that you really didn’t need a car if you lived here. Curiously, most of the units in One City Hall seem to own parking. On average a downtown parking spot costs about $30,000 today and that should be reflected if you’re buying a comparable unit without parking.

If this is your first home, be sure to read our FREE First Time Buyers Guide. It will help you avoid the most serious mistakes first time Buyers make by explaining each step in the condo-buying process.

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