Toronto’s Eastern Shoreline: Million Dollar Views Attracting Builders

…Baldo Minaudo, MBA, Broker, Real Estate Homeward, 416-564-0245

As a Toronto real estate broker active in the Toronto East and downtown areas, it is my opinion that Toronto’s Eastern shoreline will become increasingly appealing to homebuyers, builders and investors. In this article I share my observations, thoughts and reasoning behind my opinion. As well, I will include some sought after property characteristics to look for when buying a home or investment property in this area.

With Toronto real estate prices continuing to impress the market, two neighbourhoods are attracting attention among builders and investors. With the prices of detached homes East of downtown Toronto continuing to skyrocket, many first-time home buyers are looking eastward towards in the Birchcliffe-Cliffside and Cliffcrest communities, which meet at Midland Avenue with Cliffcrest to the east and Birchcliffe-Cliffside to the west.

Birchcliffe-Cliffside Boundary Map
Birchcliffe-Cliffside Boundary Map
Cliffcrest community boundary map
Cliffcrest community boundary map

Attracted by the atmosphere created by the long-time residents, accessibility to the downtown core, abundant shopping, variety of restaurants, breathtaking views of the lake and proximity to the famous cliffs of Scarborough Bluffers Park, the community is now on the radar of would-be first-time home buyers. Properties with a view of the lake are a sought after treasure, especially builders looking to make a higher return on building houses for those willing to pay a premium for a million-dollar view. Perhaps that is why they call it a million-dollar view (converted to the current value of the collar).

This is the view of Lake Ontario is from the bottom of Midland Avenue, where Fishleigh Drive ends. Fishleigh Drive is a fairly short street running along Lake SONY DSCOntario. Homes on the south side of the street have direct view of the lake from the cliffside. Currently, there are several houses being built on the street and builders are looking for more of those scarce lots, often buying older houses to rebuild with larger, more expensive and impressive houses.

Homes at the bottom of Midland Avenue are also benefiting by this scarcity because of their partial and/or seasonal view of the lake. For those that have properties with a view, it could mean a windfall as they look to downsize. The premium these properties diminishes the farther north they are from the Lake. However, as builders put up much more expensive homes, everyone in the neighbourhood will benefit to a degree.

An example of an older house with a seasonal view of Lake Ontario, presently for sale is located at 27 Midland Avenue. This property with a frontage of 50 feet and a depth of 125 feet has a sloping lot and beautiful views. A bungalow with attached garage, it has 3 bedrooms on the main floor and one in the basement. The MLS # is E3440502 and you can call me to view it (Baldo Minaudo, Broker 416-564-0245).

For those that are long-term residents of the community, some of which have been there for decades, these new builds reflect the discovery of their secret haven. Yet, Birchcilffe-Cliffside and eastern Cliffcrest began as summer cottage communities.

The historic St. Augustine Seminary has been training Roman Catholic priests since 1910 and can easily be seen with its dome overlooking south from Kingston road toward the lake. The seminary was the first Canadian seminary for English speaking clergy. St. Augustine’s Beaux Arts style architecture and striking dome is a dominant visual presence of a landmark on Kingston Road.

The area west of St. Augustine Seminary evolved as a summer cottage community with the first year-round residences built on Chine Drive (just east of Midland Avenue on the in the present day neighbourhood of Cliffcrest) in the 1920’s. It was these Arts and Crafts style homes that defined the neighbourhood’s character to this day. Most of the Cliffside houses were built from the 1920’s-1940’s with architectural styles that include Cape Cod, Craftsman style bungalows, Edwardian, Tudor and newer, contemporary homes. In the most recent years, the value of homes built closer to the lake have risen considerably, especially along Fishleigh Drive (south end of the neighbourhood) which has truly magnificent views of Lake Ontario.

A famous Canadian wonder, the Scarborough Bluffs are located within Bluffers Park (down along Undercliff Drive in the Cliffcrest neighbourhood just east of the Birchcliffe-Cliffside neighbourhood). This combined Marina, Park and Beach provides a wonderful scenic lakefront view the lake, the cliffs and the trails through the shrubbery.

The Cliffcrest community, as of 2011, had a population of 15,703 occupying 5,825 private dwellings, 59% of which are single-detached houses (compared to Toronto’s average of 26%). The average family income was $71,332 compared to Toronto’s $70,945. A significant 83% of the residents spoke English at home, 64% were born in Canada (compared to Toronto’s average of 49%), and the top 5 ethnic origins of residents are English, Irish, Scottish, Canadian and German (totalling 12,790) and accounting for over 81% of population. In 2011, visible minorities accounted for 36% of the community, compared to 49% for Toronto.

The Birchcliffe-Cliffside community, as of 2011, had a population of 21,856 occupying 9,185 private dwellings, 54% of which are single-detached houses (compared to Toronto’s average of 26%). The average family income was $73,364, compared to Toronto’s $70,945. A significant 90% of the residents spoke English at home, 73% were born in Canada (compared to Toronto’s average of 49%), and the top 5 ethnic origins are English, Irish, Canadian, Scottish and French. Visible minorities accounted for 21% of the community, compared to 49% for Toronto.

Note: Data has been sourced from the City of Toronto and the 2011 Census/National Household Survey.

5 Property Characteristics to Look for:

  1. View of the Lake: Even if it is only a seasonal view, for many being near the lake is like being in another world. Those that know this are willing to pay extra for being on or near the lake.
  2. Lot Shape: For many homeowners a rectangular lot is ideal as it is easier to landscape and maintain. For builders, a rectangular lot with a good width (frontage) is ideal as it often allows maximum use for building.
  3. Lot Slope: A sloping lot provides uniqueness and options from everything from landscaping for homeowners to home designs for builders that could include highly sought after walk-out basements.
  4. School Boundary: Parents with children will pay more for homes that fall within their preferred schools’ boundaries.
  5. Proximity to Natural Wonder: The Scarborough Bluffs are a well recognized natural wonder that attracts many foreign visitors and offers great outdoors, cliffs, trails, beach and wildlife. The Marina and Park have expanded over the decades.

Properties that have all of these are difficult to find and even more difficult to buy in a tight market. If you have a home with several or all of these characteristics then you’ll want a good idea of its worth in this market before you consider selling it.

If you would like more information on this or other neighbourhoods or are looking to buy a home or sell your house contact:

Baldo Minaudo, MBA
Broker, Real Estate Homeward Brokerage




Clairlea-Birchmount Neighbourhood of Toronto
Map of Clairlea-Birchmount Neighbourhood

In the 19th century the St. Clair and Victoria Park intersection was home to the village of Moffat’s Corners, surrounded by rural lands. They later named, Clairlea area was one of the first areas of present-day Scarborough to be developed as a Toronto suburb. As a result, it went through a transformation in the early 1950s. This middle income neighbourhood features affordable homes and mature streets. The neighbourhood’s landmark Warden Woods ravine offers some downtown nature.

Clairlea-Birchmount is a destination neighbourhood for young families, perhaps because of the family-friendly mix of population and has a low percentage of divorced (5%) and Separated (3%) families. Warden Woods Community Centre (a United Way member agency) provides support and programs for the community. There is also the West Scarborough Neighbourhood Centre founded in 1956 as the area boys and girls club which provides support to the residents.

The neighbourhood consists of 17% Children aged 0-14 (much more than the average for many other Toronto neighbourhoods) and 13% Seniors 65 and older (lower than many other Toronto neighbourhoods).

From 2001 to 2011, Clairlea-Birhmount’s official population grew 24% (from 19,960 to 24,575). Of special note, the largest growth came from the youth who increased 40%, from 2,265 to 3,170 indicating, followed by 25-64 year olds (up 30.1%) indicating a healthy demand for single-detached homes in the neighbourhood. Townhome developments have been built, mostly close to the Warden TTC Station on St. Clair.

The vast majority of the residents (15,096) speak English at home, or about 62% of those surveyed. English is the mother tongue for 50% of the residents with the remaining be accounted for by Bengali (6.4%), Tagalog-Filipino (5.6%), Urdu (3.1%), Chinese-Mandarin/Cantonese/n.o.s. (7.3%), Greek (2.4%), Tamil (2.2%), Italian  (1.9%), and Spanish (1.4%).

This up and coming neighbourhood with its many new builds is positioned for price increase as it is surrounded by more expensive properties to the south, west and north. In addition, according to City of Toronto’s Wellbeing tool, the neighbourhood is heavily weighted for ‘Approved New Dwellings’, further supporting potential development and price appreciation. The neighbourhood’s properties also score well in terms of ‘Home Repairs Needed’ scoring better than average and better than the surrounding indicating a pride of ownership and care. With the construction of the Eglinton Crosstown light-rail line (announced by MetroLinx in 2015) with the stop at Birchmount Road and Eglinton Avenue and added public transit options for the local residents, it is likely that the construction will bring additional residential and mixed-use development to the area. The government investment is part of a 25-year, $50 billion dollar plan for coordinated, integrated transportation and transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

One of the largest employers in the Neighbourhood is the landmark Providence Healthcare, established in 1962. Its services include a hospital, specializing in rehabilitation and complex continuing care, Providence Community Centre (offering clinics and support programs for seniors and caregivers), and a nursing home (the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence).

Ideal for professional couples and families is one of the newer builds in the Clairlea-Birchmount Neighbourhood newer build

Clairlea-Birchmount Neighbourhood newer build

Neighbourhood, a wonderful detached, 2-storey, 2000+ S.F. home located at 199 Raleigh Avenue. This stunning custom built home has an open open concept on the main floor with a great Chef kitchen equipped with built-in appliances, custom cabinetry, as well as a living room and dining room with walkout to deck and yard. The Second floor has four bedrooms, laundry facility and walkout to balcony. The master bedroom comes with large walk-in closet and spa ensuite is a gorgeous space to relax and unwind at the end of the day. A finished basement with extra bedroom, high ceilings and separate entrance is a highly desired o the home, the interlocking driveway and front balcony sets the stage for your visitors. Around the bonus. As you drive up tc199_raleigh_avenue_MLS_HID1085735_ROOMlivingroomdiningroomback, a fenced yard provides great privacy for you and your family to enjoy the outdoors.


If you would like to view this or other homes in Toronto, contact Baldo Minaudo, MBA, Broker, Real Estate Homeward Brokerage 416-698-2090, Dir: 416-564-0245.


Dorset Park Neighbourhood

Dorset Park Neighbourhood – another Toronto community in transition with potential upside appreciation in home value.

Dorset Park is a middle-income, family oriented neighbourhood that spans between Midland Avenue and Kennedy Road from highway 401 to just south of Lawrence Avenue.

Originally, in the 1800’s, it was part of a small farming hamlet surrounding the Kennedy and Ellesmere Road intersection, called the Village of Ellesmere.  During the early 1900’s the community’s focal point was the Ellesmere Arena, which served as home of the Maple Leaf Curling Club and the Ellesmere Maple Leaf Band. The Village was known for its sports clubs, such as the Maple Leaf Football Team which won the 1890 Ontario Championships. During the early 1950’s, Ellesmere Village’s dairy farms and market gardens were replaced by the Dorset Park housing subdivision.

Today, Dorset Park is a neighbourhood in transition with a culturally diversified population with the first generation of aging subdivision homeowners slowly being replaced by a new generation of young families with children. According to 2011 statistics, over 12% of the community’s residents claim Tamil as their mother tongue.

Dorset Park is home to one of only seven community hubs as part of Ontario’s Strategic Framework and Action Plan. Led by the United Way working together with donours and community partners, the hub is a one-stop centre where residents can access vital programs and services and where they can build community. The hub brings together resources to provide a place that supports the diverse growing needs of the community.

For those interested in affordable housing for raising a family without having to undergo renovations, the neighbourhood has a pocket of more recently built housing than the original subdivision.

For example, this home at 3 Kiriakou Street, presently listed by Real Estate Homeward at $499,000 is a beautiful, bright and spacious 3 bedroom townhouse with walkout to a private south facing, fenced yard. It even has up-graded laminated floors, a huge master bedroom with ensuite and entrance from garage. The lovely landscaped interlocking brick front entrance adds to the elegance. This great family home is ready for you to move in and enjoy in a fabulous location close to School, Parks, LRT, TTC, Go and all amenities. You can view this home at a public open house on Saturday, December 5th from 2-4pm or on Sunday, December 6th from 2-4pm. Offers, if any, being reviewed on Wednesday, December 9th.

Baldo Minaudo, Broker, Real Estate Homeward Brokerage, 1858 Queen St. E., Toronto – 416-698-2090.

Dorset Park Neighbourhood Townhouse
Dorset Park Neighbourhood Townhouse


Real Estate Indications Show Drop In Prices

Yesterday I wrote a blog about how I had seen the price of a condominium unit at 12 Yonge Street drop by 7.5% over the last two months.  This morning I read in the Globe and Mail’s Real Estate section that real estate prices have dropped much more than that in the first quarter of 2011 compared to 2010. 

According to real estate expert John Pasalis of Realosophy Realty Inc., “For example, Rosedale house values show a 42 per cent decline, Q1 2010 to Q1 2011…”  Wow, that is one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Toronto with houses costing well into the millions.  Imagine owning a $1,ooo,ooo house and then seeing its price chopped to $580,000.  Maybe those homeowners can afford to loose a whopping $420,000 or maybe they have no choice.

Other examples of neighbourhood real estate price comparison between Q1 2010 and Q1 2011 show:
Humber Valley – down 36%
Allenby – down 23%
Bathurst Manor – down 17%
Chinatown – down 17%

As I said yesterday, if you’re thinking about selling your home sell it soon and if you need a place to live rent for now because it is 25% cheaper than ownership. In other words, home prices in Toronto are atleast 25% overvalued.

Real Estate Prices Dropping In Toronto

Despite what the headlines have been saying about Toronto prices staying firm, the evidence shows that prices for condominiums in the downtown core have already started a steep decline.

Two months ago a  two bedroom condominium (NO DEN) at 12 Yonge Street was selling for $450,000.  Today I saw a two bedroom PLUS DEN in the same building going for $435,000.  That is a drop of about $35,000 ($450,000-$435,000 plus $20,000 for the den)  in just 2 months.  This represents a drop in price of 7.5% ($35,000/$470,000).

Beware if you’re buying a condominium in Toronto, the bubble seems like it has begun to burst.  If you need to sell soon, sell now not later.  If you need a place to live, rent the condo because it is 25% cheaper than owning.

Now is a time to be smart not emotional about real estate.