Welcome to my site on residential architecture, landscape, interior design, products and real estate in Canada. I'm Steven Fudge, a trained housing conceptualist and veteran Toronto realtor, who is fascinated with the multi-faceted dynamics of Canadian shelter.
This site is about exploring all the facets of housing and home in Canada, in all their incarnations, and whenever they present themselves. I consider the site an incubator for Canadian shelter, and what it represents at this moment in time. Right now, the Canadian housing market is transitioning, and today's article - originally posted on my Toronto real estate sales and marketing site Urbaneer.com - is extremely topical and relevant to many urban locations across Canada.
The COVID-19 pandemic is prompting Canadians to shift, reframe, or re-evaluate what is important to them in terms of domesticity. And right now, it's all about having a private outdoor refuge, including a generous sanctuary of outdoor space in condominium housing.
At the time of this writing, we're seven months into a new reality from the shocking arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the resulting lockdown we experienced in Canada starting March 13th, 2020 - our everyday lives have been impacted significantly and in many ways. We're learning new lessons of engagement, adapting our behaviours, and shifting our attitudes. Realistically, our time in quarantine has invited many of us to reexamine the direction we're heading in our futures, which is prompting a collective realignment of the way we navigate our place in the world.
Currently, prospective homebuyers are seeking shelter are gravitating to smaller boutique buildings with fewer units, suites that are closer to ground level so one has the option of taking the stairs instead of an elevator, and locations which have less density so they can navigate more easily and with less concern of finding themselves in a crowd. What's also moved to the top of the property search list during COVID-19, is a condominium with its own balcony or terrace. So, for those gearing up on their homebuying journey, be cognizant of the pending value-added benefits of these features during our changing times!
The Increasing Demand For Outdoor Space
Many Torontonians have always longed to have personal outdoor space. As the population has increased and family-friendly shelter has grown scarce, it's fueled the freehold property values to new precedents. As a result condominium living has become more prevalent, in part because it's a more affordable and accessible form of homeownership. A few years ago, The Globe and Mail published the piece The Rise of the Balcony which discussed how developers are responding to a growing demand for balconies and outdoor space on high rise buildings, particularly in Toronto. It explored how balconies and terraces - while offering the chance to take in impressive views - are not for everyone at great heights because of the intense winds blowing in from Lake Ontario. It also talks about how architects and developers, more and more, are working to incorporate balconies as part of the exterior aesthetic to create a cohesive design.
As a realtor who works in both the freehold and condominium markets in the original City of Toronto, I think most Buyers value having some outdoor space - if only to step out and confirm what the temperature is like before they choose their wardrobe. For some urbanites, the outdoor space connected to their suite may not have been used with great frequency when one could use a larger communal terrace with barbecues and/or a swimming pool. However, now, in the shadow of the pandemic where common amenities are closed - and potentially of higher risk when open - there's an increased focus on units with balconies or, better yet, terraces. After all, it's about finding opportunities in our shelter to social distance safely.
Outdoor Space For Buyers And Sellers
Let’s address for a minute how outdoor space is a lure for a buyer and ergo an opportunity to garner top dollar for a seller. There is both a dollar and a mental value to this feature. It's nearly impossible to attach a specific value to outdoor space but back in 2017, I found two sales in the same condo one floor apart sharing the same view but one had a terrace while the other had a small balcony. It's an interesting read in How To Assess The Value Of Outdoor Living Space. However, the value of outdoor space can be a moving target, so I think there's more merit in addressing its intangible value.
I’ve written in the past about the psychological need that real estate fulfils, in Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs And Toronto Real Estate For Sellers and Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs And Toronto Real Estate For Buyers. From both points of view, you can certainly understand how the presence of outdoor space plays a role. For the Buyer, whether it is access to the light and the air (many people are impacted mentally and emotionally with lack of sunlight) or the more pragmatic wish of being able to unwind and entertain outdoors or if it is increased perception of space for the money, outdoor space is a factor in the purchase decision. Additionally, for a Buyer looking ahead to re-sale of their current purchase, a sublime outdoor space may not only help them garner top dollar but also help them stand out from the competition. For Sellers, they need to understand the psychological draw of the outdoor space in the buying process in order to tap into that Buyer desire. For Sellers, this works out to presenting their outdoor space to fulfil the Buyer’s psychological needs, which I'll illustrate with examples below.
Elements That Determine The Dollar Value Of Outdoor Space
Just as the price per square foot of interior space can vary widely in a condominium - based on the complex's reputation, location and features, as well as the particular suite's finishes, upgrades and size - the value of outdoor space too, can range, depending on its size, views, and whether it has gas or water lines. The greater the capacity to create an 'outdoor room' the higher its potential value. After all, it's one thing to step out on a sliver of an outdoor perch where you're greeted with high winds and vertigo, and quite another if you can lay down on a chaise with a glass of wine while a partner grills fresh vegetables grown in your outdoor containers.
Remember, much of the intangible value of outdoor space rests on the opportunity that it affords. On a more practical note, it is how the features, size, and finishes of outdoor space work together to add dimension to a living space that drives the dollar amount. Check out that view above!!
A Final Word On Outdoor Space
The price tag put on owning personal outdoor space will be unique to each Buyer. It's as much psychological and tangible, depending on how you land on the outdoor spectrum. By having the choice to walk out onto your own personal balcony or terrace, the simple option to access outdoors - even if you never use it - has its own premium. For many, it's worth everything, and to some, it's minimal at best. You only have to look at a high-rise to see that many urbanites don't value their outdoor space, given they lack limited personal investment in creating additional usable seasonal living space.
A lot of Torontonians crave light and fresh air, especially when our harsh winters limit our exposure to the natural elements for as long as six months a year. So if you have outdoor space - whether that be a balcony or a terrace - know that you have a sought-after commodity that will serve you well when it comes time to sell. And be assured you don't have to have a large space to make an impact and a refuge; investing in presenting your outdoor space in its highest and best lifestyle use assures you will get the most out of the space!
Attention: all lovers of the outdoors - and of outdoor space!!
Here's a townhouse listing with a spacious roof terrace that we love! Tucked into Toronto's lakeside Swansea neighbourhood, which boasts a plethora of urban recreational amenities, this terrific townhouse is best-suited to those looking to embrace the urban village life, all within steps to resplendent High Park and Lake Ontario! Having two bedrooms, and 2 baths - and an impressive 971 square feet of intelligently designed space - this family dwelling is NOW SOLD! Here's the link --> A Townhouse With Roof Terrace On The Queensway
Don't worry, we have two more stellar offerings which boast excellent outdoor space:
This fresh-to-market cool and contemporary condo boasts 3 beds, 3 baths and over 1,800 square feet of sublime indoor/outdoor space spread over 2 storeys! Offered for sale at $1,469,000!
We love the large sun-soaked terrace that's the perfect perch for family BBQs and midnight star-gazing soirees! Planters and screens that flank the terrace provide just enough privacy without severing the connection to the city around you. The vistas of neighbouring gardens and mature treescapes are quiet calming - particularly amid the lovely synergy of Leslieville!
Ideal for the high-styled urban buyer, thIS picture-perfect penthouse isn't the kind of offering that comes to market regularly! his 1 bed, 1.5 baths, 2storey urban oasis is currently offered for sale at $1,189,000!
Our favourite feature of this penthouse is the dramatic 650-square-foot, wrap-around terrace! Spacious and sun-drenched, this outdoor space was finished with wood decking in 2017 and is a dream come true for any urban dweller that adores the city lights! Can you imagine sunning yourself with a morning coffee or throwing starlit soirees? *Swoon* The terrace is well-appointed with planter boxes, a BBQ gas line, a water line, several artificial boxwoods, and outdoor lighting accessed with the click of a remote!
Yes, the pandemic has left many of us trying to find our place in a new world, and amidst the trauma, there are silver linings. I'm fascinated by this and have been focusing on exploring our relationship to housing and home in this new era. Here are some of my recent COVID-19 related blogs:
And check out these insightful posts on Houseporn.ca;
~ Posted by Steven Fudge, the purveyor of Houseporn.ca and proprietor of Urbaneer.com, a division of Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage.