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Toronto’s Eastern Shoreline: Million Dollar Views Attracting Builders

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 home buyers, 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.

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, these communities are 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 dollar).

This is the view of Lake Ontario is from the bottom of Midland Avenue, whereFishleigh Drive ends. Fishleigh Drive is a fairly short street running along Lake Ontario. 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

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