A Q&A with developer Brad Lamb: Rosedale versus Forest Hill?

Plus which direction to face, if older is better and more

Brad Lamb

Post City Magazines’ columnist Brad Lamb is the CEO of Brad J. Lamb Realty Inc. and Lamb Development Corp. He has more than 30 years of industry experience.

As the winter gives way to spring, the housing market in Toronto continues to thrive with would-be buyers making double-digit multiple offers on both condominiums and homes. So developer Brad Lamb tackles some of Toronto’s more pressing real estate questions.

If you want to purchase an older condominium, what should you bear in mind?

Older condos, built in the ’80s, perhaps in the Esplanade, Market Square or along Bay Street, are good value. They are dated but can be bought for 15 to 20 per cent less than newer suites.

The city is getting picked over by real estate investors. These investors are looking for condos in old buildings with the idea of potentially getting a bargain. This is a part of the Toronto market where buy/renovate/sell for profit could happen. Ultimately this opportunity will get picked over and pricing in older buildings will catch up.

I want to buy a Toronto condominium. Which way do I want to be facing?

People often want south exposure, but south exposure can be hot year round. West is the worst exposure because the sun bakes you six hours a day. It’s tough to raise your blinds.

For me, the best is northern exposure because you get reflected light and brightness. I personally look for the best view rather than a specific exposure.

If I want to be wary of rising maintenance fees, what should I look out for?

Indoor pools, security and elevators are high maintenance costs. To go from no live security, to live security could cause your condo fees to go up between 30 and 40 per cent. Buildings with 150 units or less aren’t typically designed to have live security. Owners often complain about this and then condo fees skyrocket when live guards are added to the building.



Condominiums have been appreciating faster than houses. Why is that? Can it last?

Condominiums are attainable. They represent the starter home. The bulk of the transactions in any city are at the lower price point. Condominiums will appreciate the most because more demand exists than supply. A condo listed at $500,000 to $600,000 will get 15 offers. It’s all price related.

Ten years ago a semi would sell for $800,000 to $1 million and it too would get 15 to 20 offers. Now semis sell for $1.8 million, there are fewer people who can afford them. Hence, interest in the more attainable condominium. It will last. Condos are the future.

This January, the average condominium sold for $679,182 — up 15 per cent compared with the previous year. Will that number continue to rise?

Yes, of course. In 10 years, a 300-square-foot studio in Toronto will go for $800K to $1 million. I think the prices of both homes and condos are going to continue to rise. It’s not quite as bad as it is in New York, but we’re getting there. There are so many factors pointing to rising prices. I really see no relief until the next worldwide recession, and after that’s done prices will boom again.

Is this the same for houses in areas like Rosedale and Forest Hill?

Demand is high everywhere. Not many people can afford a $5 million house. That’s a snack in Rosedale or Forest Hill. All types of housing in the GTA are under rising price pressure.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO