#GTAHomeHunt is a weekly series from the Star that gets into the details of real estate listings in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. Have a tip? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
X-factor: With almost 6,000 square-feet of interior living space, a modular exterior in a mix of woods, metals and glass, the property at 7 Freeman Rd. screams luxury meets rustic in a quiet neighbourhood with parks, easy access to transit, schools, shopping and daycares.
The well-sized lot is surrounded by trees and greenery, and with expansive windows throughout the home to let that nature peek in. With high-end finishings and heated bathroom floors, the nearly $3 million home is itching for a buyer whose bank account runs deep.
But compared to most of the homes in the neighbourhood, which since February have sold for around $1 million and don’t boast the same amenities, floor plan or renovations, is it worth spending $2,895,000 on this one?
Realtor Othniel Litchmore gets into the details, and how he sees the neighbourhood changing in the next 10 years.
Why is this home one of the only renovated in the area?
Buying a property for $3 million is likely only an option for a select group of folks in the city — think businesspeople, or those with family wealth — who also likely want to be surrounded by those like them, Litchmore said.
This location in Beechborough-Greenbrook is “decent,” he said, but it’s no Forest Hill where these homes would be more common.
Still, he said this neighbourhood, tucked north of Eglinton West and around Black Creek Drive, appears to be “expanding,” or, in other words, gentrifying. The area is being changed by wealthier people moving in who are changing how homes look, which typically displaces people who have called the neighbourhood home for decades.
“Eventually, your neighbour’s home will be torn down, and a home similar to yours will be built. People are banking on the fact that the entire neighbourhood will be transformed into another thing,” Litchmore said, but that doesn’t mean the value of your home will skyrocket.
“So, is it worth it?” Litchmore asked himself.
The home at 7 Freeman Rd. is pretty accurately priced, meaning it likely won’t sell for more than it’s listed for, but also won’t appreciate in value at the same rate others will in the city because the buyer pool is smaller, he said — even if the other homes in the neighbourhood are bought, torn down and rebuilt in a similar style.
About the limited buyer pool: Litchmore’s comment checks out. This house has been on the market for 21 days. He said this doesn’t mean there hasn’t been an offer or interested buyers, but that it takes longer to purchase these homes because of how much they cost.
But if it were placed in another neighbourhood, say Forest Hill where most neighbouring properties look the same, it could go for millions more.
How can you still try to score a deal?
If you’re looking to buy the property of your dreams with finishings unique to you, Litchmore said it might be better to buy one of the neighbouring properties, tear it down and rebuild.
But that isn’t a job everyone wants to do, especially if they’re not connected to builders or contractors.
Still, it can be cheaper, and save a buyer around $500,000 in the long run, even though it could cost up to $400 per square foot.
Take, for example, a home that sold for $1 million in the area. With a tear down and rebuild, which could cost $1.4 million, that would save you $495,000 compared to buying this property.
For most buyers, however, the process seems daunting, which would make 7 Freeman Rd. an ideal buy if you’re looking to get into the neighbourhood before it heats up, Litchmore said.
Where else can you find homes like this?
Forest Hill boasts similar looking homes to 7 Freeman Rd., but it isn’t the only area in the city where you’ll find them, nor is it the only area you’ll see older homes being torn down in favour of bigger properties with a more modern flare.
Litchmore suggests looking in the old York area: Black Creek Drive and Lawrence Avenue, down Bloor Street West and east of the University subway line.
“There are a lot of older homes on good-sized lots that are currently being torn down,” he said. “So just north of downtown, but not much more north than Lawrence.”
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