West-end Toronto Neighbourhoods for 1st Time Buyers, Houses, Homes, Detached, Semis, Attached, Townhouses
Where are Toronto’s 1st time buyers, who don’t want to move to the Burbs looking? What sort of price are they paying for choosing a house over a condo…and are these areas good investments? If they fall in love with the area, will they want to stay there after they grow out of their first home?
As the Toronto Real Estate market continues to take off, reaching even higher price-tags, for those entering the market for the 1st time, finding the right home is difficult enough, but being sensitive to the location is another important factor to take into consideration.
Finding your first house in the $500,000 to $600,000 range is still possible, in the right neighbourhoods. Condos have continued to be a strong choice for both 1st time buyers and empty-nesters. They are becoming more popular with young families who want to remain in the core of the city and don’t want a lengthy commute. If living in a condo is not your first choice and you have the ability to spend a little more, as well as counting on spending money on house renos and repairs as well as upkeep…perhaps springing for a new roof or furnace, then there are some neighbourhoods in west-end Toronto that you might want to consider.
The Wallace-Emerson hood is found north of Bloor to Dupont Street from Lansdowne Avenue east to Dufferin Street. It’s a former industrial area that is becoming more known for its residential housing. There is an eclectic mix of trendy restaurants, shops, cafes and art galleries that are popping up within the Bloordale Village area. The Dufferin Mall also offers a strong choice of shopping for local residents as well as the Organic Dufferin Grove weekly market, across the street. Public transportation is a huge factor, with the Bloor-Danforth subway line and a number of bus routes being only a few minutes’ walk from this area. The area housing stock is a mixture of modest sized detached, semi-detached and attached properties dating back to the early 1900’s. The streets are narrow as are the houses and most properties have laneways. The area also offers a nearby community centre, indoor swimming pool, gym, playground and park with tennis courts, ice rink, hockey and pleasure skating. Because of the close proximity to both downtown Toronto and the subway line, house prices here will be a bit higher for what you’ll get. In the $500,000 to $600,000 range, you will more than likely find either a semi or attached property, needing some updates and possibly with street parking only. The great thing about the area is that whatever upgrades are added to your property, will almost immediately increase the value. Residents loving the area also choose to move-up to a detached property or larger semi, taking advantage of all the great new retail shops moving into the neighbourhood.
Further west, in the Lambton area, just north of Scarlett Road and St. Clair Avenue and south of Smythe Park, is a treed picturesque pocket along the Humber River Valley. An entire stretch of Scarlett Road is bordered to the west by the landmark Lambton Golf and Country Club which surrounded by the Black Creek and Humber River, makes this one of the City’s prettiest golf courses.
This green area includes Lambton Park to the east which has the Lambton Arena, and the park follows ten kilometers of trails along the Humber River. The paved trail passes through James Gardens with its ponds and bridges and connects cyclists to the Martin Goodman Trail on the Waterfront. To the north of this pocket is Smythe Park which has been designated as a wildlife protection area and includes marshes, ponds, two outdoor swimming pools, two tennis courts, two baseball diamonds and a playground.
Shopping is spread out in this area, and most residents will travel to either the Bloor West Village or Junction shopping districts. Being further north of the subway, those taking public transportation will be taking the Bus at Jane and Dundas Street, connecting to the stations at the Bloor-Danforth subway line. The Dundas West bus also connects to the Kipling subway and Go Train station.
The housing within this area is a mixture of charming detached bungalows and storey- and-a–halfs that were built around the 1940’s. Many of these bungalows are 2 bedrooms with varying degrees of upgrades and often include basement apartments that have been added over the years. Private driveways and mutual are common, with smaller garages in the rear. Yards are decent sized; especially considering how much smaller they are with properties closer to downtown. Young families and singles are moving in and renovating these smaller spaces into workable living areas, often changing them to open-concept living/dining and kitchen areas. The other added benefit is the larger space found in the lower level, which is often used as a family room or an added guest bedroom. These properties have been selling in the $520,000 to $590,000 range and offer a great opportunity for expansion down the road.
West Toronto’s waterfront community Mimico, is south of the Q.E.W on either side of Royal York Road, reaching the lake. This scenic neighbourhood is popular for its lakefront trails, parks and recreational facilities. It’s a short commute to downtown Toronto via a number of routes including the Lake Shore Blvd or Gardiner Expressway, the Royal York bus to the Bloor-Danforth subway or the Go Train station located just off Royal York Road, which takes you to Union Station in approximately 15 minutes.
Those living in Mimico usually shop a variety of locations including, the Lake Shore Blvd, Royal York, The Queensway, The Kingsway and Bloor West Village shopping districts. There are a number of local fab restaurants and cafes, especially around the Condo developments at Marine Parade Drive. Costco and the Odeon Theatres are found on the Queensway, and the immediate area includes a number of different grocery stores.
Mimico offers a magical opportunity to live and play near the water. The newly constructed Mimico Waterfront Park is a multi-purpose paved path and boardwalk with side paths which provide better access to the waterfront. The Humber Bay Parklands is an incredible hidden gem, including wetland habitats, paths for strolling through natural wild foliage, a pond for model boat enthusiasts, off-leash area for pooches, beach and picnic areas and outdoor farmer’s market. The Mimico Cruising Club and Etobicoke Yacht Club and Humber College Sailing School are also found here. The Humber Bay Park Trail that hugs the lake front also connects via the Humber Bay Arch Bridge to the Martin Goodman Trails, which are used for walking, running, jogging, cycling and inline skating.
The housing stock in Mimico includes a number of detached bungalows, semi-detached, storey-and-a half, two-storey and townhouses. The older and smaller properties that were built in the 1940’s offer a great opportunity to move into the neighbourhood, selling in the $525,000 to $575,000 range. While the area has been waiting for a dramatic upswing for quite a while, prices and demand are finally seeing increases as more buyers seek this green waterfront area that is so convenient to downtown Toronto. Many residents are choosing to remain in the hood and either rebuild their current house, once they outgrow it, or choose another that’s already been renovated.
A little further west is found the Historic lakefront community called Long Branch, once known in the 1880’s as a summer resort area for the wealthy. It’s located between 23rd Street and Marie Curtis Park to the west, south of the Lake Shore and just slightly north, near Laburnham Park.
Toronto’s Village by the Lake, has a wonderful community feel with their BIA promoting it as the place to enjoy living, working, shopping and playing! Blue cast-iron lamp posts line the Lake Shore Boulevard, giving a small Lakefront Village atmosphere to the area. An array of different shops and restaurants along the street make for easy convenience for the locals, who don’t have to travel far.
Like Mimico, Long Branch has its own Go Train Station located at the west-end of the neighbourhood on Lake Shore Boulevard. Bus service here also connects to Union Station and the subway line. Motorists can whip to downtown Toronto by the Lake Shore Blvd., and the Q.E.W and Highway 427 is close-by to access, as well as being approximately 15 minutes to Pearson Airport.
Long Branch, being a waterfront community is also surrounded by a number of parks. Marie Curtis Park located at the mouth of the Etobicoke Creek includes a sandy beach and waterfront trail that winds through natural greenery. Picnic areas, wading pool and a playground are also found here, with the trails passing through Colonel Samuel Smith Park with its newly created wetland habitat. The views are incredible along the waterfront and other parks here include, Len Ford Park, Long Branch Park and Birch Park.
There is a variety of different types of homes found here, ranging from tiny aluminum or brick bungalows, one-and-a-half storey houses, 2 storey and huge properties built on the water. Some newer townhouse developments have also been added. Getting into this hood, you could find a smaller bungalow or storey-and-a-half in the $500,000 to $575,000 range. Most properties will have either a private or mutual driveway, with fairly deep lots. Doing some upgrades on a smaller property in this neighbourhood, is certainly worth looking at and possibly expanding upon it, down the road.
As a 1st time buyer, finding the right fit in a neighbourhood is critical! You’ll want to feel comfortable with the area and what it has to offer. There will always be concessions, but the major factors when choosing an area, will stand out. You can always change and renovate your property, but the neighourood flavor will remain the same, albeit gentrification certainly does alter neighbourhoods, with the new influx of trendy shops and condos, but this often happens over time.
Young urbanites have been trending towards embracing the small-sized movement and reducing their real estate footprint. Millennials are opting for micro-sized kitchens with top end appliances and gadgets, allowing for more open space when entertaining. The smaller houses that can be found in some of these neighbourhoods, can be looked at as condo-alternatives and designed to fit the lifestyle of those buying them.
*Beginning in February 2016, because of expressed concern over rising home prices in High Priced real estate markets, the Federal Government boosted the minimum down payment from 5% to 10% (when buying for over $500,000) to quality for Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation Insurance, which is protection that Bank lenders use when providing a mortgage worth more than 80% of value. CMHC will require a 10% downpayment on the portion over $500,000 and 5% on the portion up to $500,000.
Thinking about buying your 1st Home and would like to talk with a seasoned Full-time Agent about your options?