Thursday, 2 April 2015

What Momentum Does to an Emerging Neighbourhood

Sometimes it's tough to consider a neighbourhood "emerging" when the average detached home in some classic Toronto emerging neigbhourhoods clear a million dollars in sales. Emerging neighbourhoods have traditionally been the terrain of first time buyers and investors. The thing is, the emerging neighbourhoods of years past have now become more that just emerging neighbourhoods. They have become established neighbourhoods with some serious draw to them. It is where the demand can be very strong, particularly if you are buying a house. They are no longer areas on the fringe that offer inexpensive prices at a reasonable cost. They are destinations where buyers are clamoring to get in.

Once upon a time, the middle and upper middle class largely lived in North or Midtown Toronto, north of Eglinton where there was less social housing, less rental units, and less diversity in the population. There were a few neighbourhoods that were still appealing to some. Back in the 70s and early 80s, High Park was considered quite middle class, though likely more artsie and hippie. Roncesvalles used to have its own Birkenstock store after all. Same goes with the Annex and the Danforth. A little more artsie and distinctive.

Nowadays, you have to be making a lot of dough or inheriting a lot of money to buy in central High Park and the Annex. Don't get me wrong. There are always deals to be had, but they are few and far between, and usually require a reno in these neighbhourhoods.

And it's not just in these neighbourhoods. A lot of interest has shifted to the south core of Toronto (south of Eglinton) in the last twenty years. King West, Queen West, Trinity Bellwoods, the Junction, the Junction Triangle, Riverside, Leslieville Corktown, and Parkdale all draw in their share of interest. The good restaurants, the exciting condos are often below Eglinton between the Junction and Leslieville. Neighbourhoods like Leslieville may still seem a little rough around the edges in a few spots, but don't be fooled that this is an inexpensive place to buy. It's no Leaside in terms of the prices, but it has become a desired neighbourhood in which to live. Those young families have attracted more families creating better schools and engaged parents. Well-invested and aging parents move closer to their adult kids in Leslieville because of the walkability of the whole place. There are amazing places to go here. Not just Subway and Tim Horton's but a Circus School for your kids, an indie coffee shop an every corner, and some of the best bakeries in the city.

To be clear, this post is not here to make the buyers of Toronto feel sad or hopeless. You shouldn't be. This should be an inspiration to you. If you don't have a good mortgage and a healthy down payment, you may find it hard to live in Leslieville, but you can live in a future Leslieville. It doesn't look like Leslieville now, but it may some day. Danforth Village is still filling up. The west end between St. Clair and Dufferin is ready for its next shift. And if you're really looking for a bargain, head out to Hamilton. Yes, that city is on the rise, and the momentum is building. Look for the potential, not just the end product. The nice shops and the better schools will come. Momentum is a hard thing to stop.

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