Tag Archives: Downsizing

Alternative to downsizing

Alternative to downsizing

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Alternative to downsizing

Photography by Lianne Gesoir

There is an interesting trend emerging in Toronto, which is challenging the traditional notion of what it means to downsize in the city. More and more, we’re seeing urban homeowners opt to convert their single-family home into high-quality, multi-suite properties, where the owner occupies a more modest portion of the house to allow for additional suites for their children, parents, or paying tenants. In an effort to increase supply and ease the rental housing shortage, the province and City of Toronto are amending regulations to make it easier to build secondary suites within existing and newly built homes, and, in some cases, in ancillary buildings like garages. Taking advantage of these relaxed policies could just be your ticket to a smart downsize in Toronto.

Short-term and long-term benefits

The Men At Work Design Build team recently completed a project in the Regal Heights neighbourhood, near Dufferin and St. Clair, successfully converting a large, single-family house into three high-quality independent suites, each with their own private outdoor space. The goal of the renovation was to provide the homeowners with an updated, efficient suite for themselves, while being able to offer their adult children affordable, independent units to help them get on their feet in this expensive city. Over time, the units will be able to help support the homeowners in retirement, as well as generate significant additional income to pay for the costs of the improvements.

Suite-specific permit process

Navigating the design and approvals process, for a project like this, requires good planning and familiarity with the myriad of zoning and building code rules and cost implications. There are important requirements to isolate the units for fire containment and soundproofing, and numerous technical considerations for egress, parking, hydro, water, and gas distribution.

Privacy & outdoor space

In the design of the Regal Heights project, we wanted to create bright, high-quality, functional living spaces that would feel as much as possible like living in a private house. It was determined early on that each unit would have its own private yard space and separate entrance, but the corner lot location made it possible to allow each entrance to face a different direction, ultimately creating an even better sense of privacy.

Custom home finishes and fixtures

Purpose-built rental units and apartment conversions often skimp on the size and quality of kitchen and bathroom finishes in the interest of saving costs. For this project, we felt that offering larger, eat-in, custom kitchens with luxury appliances would better suit the owner-occupier, and make the units feel more like living in a nice house instead of an ordinary rental apartment. Lots of built-in storage and careful advance planning for how each unit would be furnished, optimized the use of space, while enlarged windows increased the natural light and view to make the units all feel much larger.

Divide & conquer

Many long-time homeowners look to the condo market as a natural choice to downsize, in order to invest in units for their adult children or generate rental income. However, if you’re reluctant to give up the lifestyle of living in a house with your own yard, in a neighbourhood you’re familiar with, and you don’t like the thought of high-rise living, costly maintenance fees and condo board headaches, then maybe a house conversion is the right fit for you.

Men At Work Design Build offers integrated engineering, design and professional construction services for major home renovation projects in Toronto.

Jessica Millard joined the team in 2017, and is currently the company’s Project Coordinator. The featured project is a renovation that Jessica had a professional hand in managing, turning a single-family home into a multi-suite income property.


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Parkland on Eglinton West

Parkland On Eglinton West is redefining retirement living

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Parkland On Eglinton West is redefining retirement living

Making the decision to move is never an easy one. And, choosing where to spend your retirement years can be one of the most emotionally charged times. If leaving the family home, we may experience added stressors and heightened feelings, as we connect that structure with a lifetime of memories. Once you’ve made this difficult decision, it then becomes a question of where you might want to live.

Taking the next step

When downsizing, a condo often seems like the next best step. For the most part, maintenance is taken care of, and you don’t have to shovel snow or cut the grass. You also have a smaller space to clean, and many buildings have common areas, fitness rooms and other amenities.

For some, it can make life feel smaller, not only in terms of space, but also with regard to lifestyle. Depending upon your personality, or if you have health-related issues, getting out and socializing might not come easy. However, it’s so important to connect with others for our physical and mental well-being.

The community

In early April, close to 400 members of the extended community attended information sessions at the Islington Golf Club to learn more about Parkland on Eglinton West – Etobicoke’s newest lifestyle residence. This 272-suite residence offers a complete range of lifestyle options – from independent apartments, to full supportive care. The philosophy of Parkland revolves around exceptional service and attention.

An enhanced lifestyle is supported by a plethora of state-of-the-art amenities, including a fitness centre, a spa and heated pool, as well as a golf simulator, entertainment centre and multiple onsite restaurants. All-day dining is offered without seating plans or restrictive hours, and chauffeur and concierge services are also available.

Each suite includes a washer and dryer, stainless steel appliances and private balconies. Small pets are welcome at Parkland, and there’s s dog-wash station on site to help keep them groomed and happy.

With a full calendar of wellness and social events to choose from, you can be as busy, or as relaxed, as you like.

The need is there

Because everyone’s needs are different, and those needs can change over time, Parkland on Eglinton West offers lifestyle apartments, all-inclusive lifestyle suites and supportive lifestyle suites that offer assisted living and specialized memory care service. Instilling dignity, respect and independence are paramount. Emergency response is also available 24/7, should you ever need it.

Parkland on Eglinton West is scheduled to open late summer, 2020. Family-owned and operated, this ‘residents first’ style of living is what Canadians want, and deserve. Bonus incentives are currently available for a limited time.

Now Leasing: Call 416.997.2647 or visit the website.


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The financial pitfalls of downsizing

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The financial pitfalls of downsizing

It’s counterintuitive to the advice that is generally given to retirees, which suggests that once the kids move out, it’s best to sell your home and free up some cash. If you’ve owned your home for more than 20 years, chances are you stand to make a huge profit. However, there can be unforeseen financial challenges when downsizing that can end up costing you more money than you anticipated.

A survey of Canadians over the age of 50, by Ipsos* and commissioned by Home Equity Bank, found that 27 per cent of those who downsized said that the costs were more than they expected. Another four in 10 said that they were skeptical about the savings as it related to downsizing.


Of course, you can expect to pay fees and taxes when you sell your property, as well as the real estate commission for your agent, which can be as high as four per cent, plus moving costs, and the land transfer taxes when you buy a new home. If downsizing to Toronto, you can expect to pay two land transfer taxes – one to the city and one to the province – which could be tens of thousands of dollars.


A smaller living space would mean that your utility and maintenance costs would be lower.

Monthly expenditures, like groceries, travel, transportation and entertaining can take up a big chunk of your budget. In retirement, most people spend between 40 and 80 per cent of what they spent per month when they were working. According to a recent CIBC poll, Am I Saving Enough to Retire?, the vast majority of Canadians were not aware that the magic number of what they need to retire is $756,000. The same report found that Canadians have saved approximately $184,000. Even with selling your home, you may not raise the capital that you need for retirement.


If moving from a large family home to a smaller bungalow or condo, there won’t be extra space to create income. If in a larger home, you might consider creating a long-term income suite, or use sites like airbnb or HomeAway for short term rentals. The extra income could help to balance your budget.


The Canadian Institute of Health Information indicates that Canadians over the age of 65 make up approximately 16.1 per cent of the population, but 46 per cent of the health expenditures are directed to this demographic. If downsizing away from your family doctor, or other key health services, you may spend more in order to get to the health care that you need.


After selling the family home, you may have a strong urge to spend more, now that there’s a large balance in your account. After all, we’re only human. If you inflate your spending habits, you can burn through that money very quickly. Have a plan to invest it properly, so that it will last through retirement.

Timing is everything. If you have to move quickly, last minute decisions often cost more. Weigh your options to determine if you should downsize – or stay put.

In August 2018, HomeEquity Bank reached out to 25,000 older adults in Canada (aged 55-plus, among which 1,870 were home owners) through an omnibus survey, completed by IPSOS. IPSOS Research Details: the poll is accurate to within 19 times out of 20.

Rubina Ahmed-Haq is a journalist, personal finance expert and HPG’s finance editor. She appears on CBC TV and radio, CTV Your Morning, Global Toronto, and writes for ratesupermarket.ca. Follow her @alwayssavemoney. AlwaysSaveMoney.ca


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Perspectives: A Baby Boomer Shaped Hole

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Perspectives: A Baby Boomer Shaped Hole

Shrinking condo sizes and skyrocketing prices are pricing downsizers out of the market

For the first time in the history of Canada, the number of people aged 65 years or over now surpasses the number of children aged 14 years or under. This unprecedented demographic shift means that the market is beginning to be flooded with affluent 65-plus baby boomers looking to downsize from their large family homes.

In the next five to ten years, even more baby boomers will be retiring and looking to downsize, so in many ways the baby boomer is the perfect customer for savvy developers to be targeting right now. Unfortunately, a combination of poorly designed policies and untimely market forces have severely limited the affordable options available to this highly coveted buyer.

While the idea of maintaining a two-storey home in retirement seems like a viable option for some retirees, home upkeep and mobility concerns in homes with flights of stairs are driving many baby boomers towards large-sized condominiums.

There’s just one problem: trying to find an affordable living space that can comfortably accommodate a downsizer is still almost impossible. This is true not only for the existing stock of condominiums, but also for new developments coming to market.

As a condominium sales and marketing consultant, I have the opportunity to meet with several developers on a weekly basis to see firsthand what the current market trends are. While many developers are doing an excellent job at creating products to meet the needs of young professionals, the current design and suite mix across the city is simply not well situated to meet the needs of the baby boomer demographic.

Ironically, a large part of the problem stems from the way the city has been pushing for more multi-bedroom suites. At first this might sound like a good thing until you look at how they are doing it.

It all starts with development fees. They are a huge source of revenue for the city, and they are levied based on how many bedrooms a suite has. The difference in development fees between a one- and two-bedroom suite can be as much as $10,000.

Under the current system, a developer may design a 650-square-foot onebedroom- plus-den suite, only to have the city come back and tell them that they will be charged a two-bedroom suite development fee for that suite layout. This means that the developer will have to redesign that suite so that it can be marketed as a two-bedroom unit.

Because this trend of pushing for more bedrooms is happening across the city, it means the average square footage for one- and two-bedroom suites is going down. At the same time, suite pricing is strongly tied to the number of bedrooms, so this phenomenon is also driving the cost per square foot up. The end result of these market and policy forces is that the average baby boomer is getting pushed out of the condo market.

Imagine you are a retired couple currently living in a 3,000-square-foot home worth $1.5 million. You want to downsize to a 1,500-square-foot condo that is easier to maintain but still gives you enough space to have the kids come to visit. The average cost for a downtown condo of 1,500 square feet is almost exactly the same price as their current home. This means that they are getting half the square footage for the same price. Not much of an incentive.

I recently met one downsizing couple who did the math and thought it would be better value to spend $50,000 installing an elevator so they can stay in their home as they age.

A related issue in the lowrise market is that developers are not building bungalows, either. This is mainly because the cost of land has increased so much, a 2,400-square-foot home in King Township would cost in upwards of $1.2 million. Land has now become so much of the cost of building that a two-storey detached home in the same community, on the same lot size, would cost essentially the same. Where can one retiring find money to live on if they are paying so much more to downsize?

Back in Toronto’s highrise market, we see another problem. The current inventory of larger luxury condo suites are simply not priced to sell. There are some developments that have suites over 2,000 square feet priced anywhere from $3 million to $5 million, plus the cost of monthly maintenance fees. This is simply not an appealing option to many people who could own a very nice Toronto home for much less than this.

The solutions to these problems are complex, but developers and municipalities will be wise to consider them carefully. With over 23 per cent of the population retiring in the next 10 years, the time is now to find solutions that will appeal to this near ideal target buyer.

Vanessa Bellemare is vice president of sales and marketing at International Home Marketing Group. IHMG.ca


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Real Insight – Downsizing May Upsize Your Bank Account

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Real Insight – Downsizing May Upsize Your Bank Account

But weigh the pros and cons before making the big move

Downsizing is on the minds of many these days. Maybe it’s the changing demographics as baby boomers become empty nesters and look for a smaller home; or maybe it’s the market as supply continues to dwindle for detached and semidetached home types. Whatever it is, downsizing is a delicate balancing act and it’s important to consider the tradeoffs before you choose to relocate.

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of downsizing is the financial one. In today’s GTA housing market, there may be a good chance that you’ll be able to sell your home at a premium, freeing up cash for retirement, travel, etc. Downsizing may even afford you the luxury of buying your next home mortgage-free, giving you financial breathing room through your golden years.

Aside from the financial payout downsizing may afford, there are also potential positive lifestyle changes in store. Perhaps you’ll relocate to a condo in a convenient, walkable area. With groceries, restaurants and theatres at your doorstep, condo living in the heart of a city can be quite attractive. Plus, living in a condo can afford you a simpler life, with security in the building and less home maintenance being some of the attractive pros. Or, maybe you’ve always dreamed of a simpler life far outside the city and can’t wait to indulge in a vacation lifestyle year-round.

Downsizing is good for the GTA housing market as a whole as well. Selling your home could help offset the supply/demand imbalance we’re currently seeing in the marketplace.

Of course, financial gain and a more convenient and relaxing lifestyle seem like great reasons to downsize, but many people rush into the decision motivated by these factors without considering the trade-offs. I believe it’s critical to understand what it is you may be giving up before you take the plunge.

Downsizing can be a real culture shock. After so many years living in a big home that’s in a familiar area and close to all your friends, family and favourite shops and services, changing your location can be a bit unnerving. While it could be the right decision for you, it’s important to understand how it may impact your life when making such a decision.

For instance, when you downsize you may have to face a decision to part with some of your valuables, collections and treasures. If you’re considering moving outside of your current neighbourhood, how much distance will you and your family/friends have to travel when getting together, and will you have the space to house and entertain them when they come to visit?

So, before you take the next step in your downsizing adventure, think about what it means to adapt to a new lifestyle. Weigh the positive and negatives and be open and realistic about your expectations. A professional TREB member realtor has helped many with this type of decision and may offer you the insight and advice you need to help you make that decision.

For updates on the real estate market, visit TREBHome.com. If commercial property is what interests you, contact a TREB commercial realtor by visiting TREBCommercial.com.

Larry Cerqua is president of the Toronto Real Estate Board, a professional association that represents 45,000 professional realtor members in the Greater Toronto Area. You can contact him at TREBpres@trebnet.com. For updates on the real estate market, visit TREBHome.com. If commercial property is what interests you, contact a TREB realtor by visiting TREBCommercial.com.


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