A Brief Post-War History Of Real Estate Development

Before 1945 most of the GTA was farmland. Large suburban cities, Mississauga, Vaughan, Maple, Brampton were either small towns, non-existent, or farmland. Toronto was largely relegated to what most now consider the city’s downtown core. Then it was known as Metro. From 1945 to the mid 60s the first true ‘suburbs’ were built. Forest Hill, now Canada’s most affluent neighbourhood tied with Rosedale, was one of them. Government guarantees and mortgage support, along with large scale infrastructure spending facilitated these suburbs.

The 1950s Real Estate Boom

At the height of the 50s economic boom, the Chair of Metro, effectively the head of Toronto’s development and planning, was Fred Gardiner – the namesake of the famous downtown highway. Gardiner claimed that Toronto was so prosperous and growing so fast that the local government could build whatever it wanted. Gardiner claimed that: “Money is not an issue for us, we have the resources to build whatever we choose.” This strong activist government supported a massive real estate boom. From the 60s to the 80s, much of Scarborough, Etobicoke, and North York were completed. Mississauga began its explosive growth in this period. Over time other suburbs and developments were completed.

The 1980s Toronto Real Estate Crash

The late 80s was a time of real estate speculation and overbuilding. This lead to an eventual crash which took 7 years to recover from. From the mid 90s to 2008, the GTA underwent a massive housing and condo boom. This continued after the conclusion of the Great Recession and peaked in the summer of 2017. While significant downturns have occurred, southern Ontario and the GTA have been development and real estate hotspots for almost 80 years running. 

Toronto’s Condo Market Crackles On

As Tembo previously reported in its newsletter and past blogs, the Toronto condo market is undergoing a massive upsurge in activity and dynamism. In the last 20 years, Toronto’s real estate sector has enjoyed tremendous growth in activity, prices, and supply, especially in the form of condos. The city’s previously impressive skyline is now on track to surpass many American megacities traditionally viewed as architecturally and structurally more imposing, such as Chicago’s. A huge number of the new skyscrapers and high rises built in the city are condo buildings.

New figures show astronomical price increases in many Toronto neighbourhoods, particularly in Scarborough, where some prices increased over 60% from a year ago. As the price of detached homes continues to steadily increase with demand remaining strong, many first-time buyers continue to turn to the condo market to begin their respective real estate journeys. Despite a vast slew of new factors impacting the market, condos continue to be available in strong numbers and are far more affordable than detached, semi-detached homes or townhomes.

The most dynamic price growth was seen in much of Scarborough, north-west Etobicoke, and along the downtown core and lakeshore areas of the city. While 20-40% price growth was common throughout the city, it is important to note that base prices a year ago for many condos in the city’s periphery were very low, partially explaining the explosive nature of the price increases. Prices increases were most modest in the city’s midtown area.

The supply of condos continues to increase and generally is meeting demand as approvals and new construction continues to improve market supply. Another important factor is that many millennials are now in a position to afford an entry into the real estate market, and are turning to condo purchases to start building equity. Investors, foreigners, and retired, affluent baby boomers are also buying condominium units.

Real estate transforming transit projects in the GTA

In this blog post, Tembo will briefly outline 5 major public transit projects that will promote densification, reduce traffic and congestion, and spur development across much of the GTA.

Eglinton Crosstown: One of the largest construction projects in the world, the 19 km long Crosstown will run from Weston Road to Kennedy Subway Station in Scarborough. The $5.3 billion line will house 25 stations and will be half tunnel, half LRT. The project will promote densification in midtown Toronto and will improve travel times from Scarborough to West York and north Toronto as well. The Crosstown will be complete in 2021.

Relief Line: The relief line will run from Pape subway station south along Carlaw Avenue to the neighbourhood of Leslieville, after which the line will curve westwards toward the downtown core. Frequently described by officials and TTC management as the most important transit project presently in consideration, the Relief Line is crucial to relieving subway traffic at Yonge-Bloor and St. George stations. Environmental assessments and initial planning are underway. Once complete, the line will intensify development in the Beaches and Toronto’s East End.

Brampton-Mississauga LRT: At a cost of just under $2 billion, the Peel region LRT will link Brampton and Mississauga with major GO Train and SmartTrack stations while reducing the region’s reliance on car traffic. The LRT should increase public use of public traffic and provide Peel residents with an alternative to cars. The line is being heavily touted by officials as crucial in furthering the densification of Mississauga and its evolution into a more concentrated, less suburban city.

Vaughan Subway: The Yonge-University Spadina subway extension to Vaughan will be complete by the end of 2017. The line will cost well over $3 billion but is already spurring huge condominium development and intensification along its route.

Scarborough Subway: The one stop Scarborough subway was debated over many years ferociously by supporters and opponents. Finally approved, the subway will replace the aging Scarborough RT elevated train. Although exceedingly expensive given its one stop, the subway is strongly supported by Scarborough residents and will link Scarborough town centre with the rest of the GTA’s underground subway network.

All in all, these projects, once completed, will have a massive and positive impact on property valuations, traffic congestion, and the connectivity, efficiency, and economic growth of our region.