Pleasantville & Leslieville

Toronto’s dive: sales down 15%, listings up 17%

Hello Garth,

I’ve just finished your book. Thank you for potentially being the first writer to specifically focus on Canada’s real estate and its economy. I loved your focus our communities which paint a closer to picture to Canadian readers. I’ve recommended the book to friends and family as a must read. I also have to say that it was very nice to see your columns again after a dry spell of a couple years. I love them!

Barrie was touted as the fastest growing community in Canada a few years back. The growth has slowed down as the city is land-locked and developers have no where else to build. Prices have also gone up dramatically. You mentioned the under 2000 sq. ft $300,000 bungalow as an ideal home. Guelph was used as an example. Barrie has this criteria for homes in the price range of $250,000 to $300,000. However, I wonder what your thoughts are on Barrie as a community. Public transit is not too efficient but present. This city can be called retail city x10000. Yes, that adds to the failure of mass consumeristic families… Theatres and health clubs and every single amenity is being built or is in the planning stages.

The waterfront is wonderful. It’s really desirable for nature lovers such as myself. There are condo towers being built on the lakeshore at a crazy rate. The condos go from $300,000 to $500,000. We’ve visited most of the sales centres to “grab” an investment and the agents tell us the majority of the towers that sell out have baby boomers (or “much, much older people than you” as we are constantly told). We are in our early 30’s. Would you consider Barrie to be a “buy city” or “run as fast as you can because you are in Northern suburbia city”? It would seem boomers are picking up these properties or choosing Barrie as a retirement area. Your thoughts?

In your book you mention that it’s best to go variable. We have a 25 year fixed rate at 6% which we carried from a previous home. Variable would have saved us thousands of dollars per year but the uncertainty locked us in. In hindsight it was a mistake. Historically, selecting a variable rate mortgage would save you on the interest cost over the long run.

Is it still safe to go variable? We are thinking of breaking our 25 year fixed and going variable for the next 5 years or until we pay off the mortgage.


Well, I have good news and bad. The good is that Barrie – being in the Toronto commutershed, and with average prices at least $100,000 less than down Highway 400 – is relatively affordable, safe, pleasant and currently at the top of its real estate cycle. Also good is the fact the decline in prices that will be experienced in the GTA orb in the next six to 12 months will be diminished in that city.

The bad news is worse. Communities with relatively little public transit infrastructure, a nebulous industrial and commercial base and a heavy dependence on a metropolis accessible only by car, have some dark years ahead. We are just on the cusp of an energy crisis the likes of which have not been seen before, and when $1.40, or $1.80, or $2.25-per-ltre gasoline will have a major impact on Barrie as a bedroom community. The future belongs to larger urban centres, or small cities which are relatively self-contained and have their own viable economic base. That ain’t Barrie. Govern yourself, and your investment, accordingly.

As for interest rates, they have nowhere to go but down – modestly – and there is no question but a VRM is the best way ahead.

Hey Garth,

I am a 52 year-old divorced lady who just read your book Greater Fool. I just sold my house in a small town about 1.5 hours south of Calgary. I have had it on the market since February and removed all of the conditions last week. I have about 200K in equity and have just made an appointment with a fee-only financial planner in Calgary. I am moving in with another divorced lady – empty nester – and have no plans to buy for awhile. I’ll pay her some rent and I think it will be a rather nice arrangement for the present. I used to think that renters were losers, but now I am looking forward to not getting the big bills each month.

I’ve checked out your blog and in my heart know that I am experiencing something new and profound. The world is changing so fast – the rise in oil prices is pushing the dominoes over and I feel that there is never a better time to have my eyes wide open. I know that the trend has been there for all to see for a long time, but the swiftness of the oil prices rising is now making those who hesitate poor.

I talked with my 21 year-old son about it all, and he thinks HEY, MOM – look at the opportunities! I guess the glass will be half full at my new rented place. Or as the engineers say – I should have bought the right-sized glass in the first place.

xoxo Sandy

Wisdom in Alberta. I love seeing that.

Hi Garth
I see other people write to you with questions, and since all other TO RE blogs I’ve found are very bullish, you’re my best hope!

I live in Vancouver and follow the Van real estate bear blogs avidly. I am resigned to having missed the RE boat here in 2003-5 so am waiting on the sidelines, renting cheap & and saving a lot for a down payment and the rest of my life.

My concern is my best friend in T.O. She bought a $300k 2 bdrm townhome in Leslieville as a pre-sale about a year ago. It’s not going to complete until July 09 at the earliest. She & her fiance put a healthy $50K down payment on it and the payments are well with their range, so negative equity & rising rates are not the main worry. My concern is she now is seriously talking about having kids soon (she’s 35) and will want a bigger place two or three years from now. She’s hoping to break even on the sale, but I think even that will be unlikely.

I grew up in Markham & am familiar with Toronto neighbourhoods. From the info I’ve been able to gather online, Leslieville sounds like it’s seeing ‘price compression’ – a marginal neighbourhood that sees rapid house price inflation because buyers who can’t afford the better neighbourhoods bid up prices there. That seems to be happening now in Vancouver’s East Side. In the short run, I fear Leslieville will have a significant correction & my friend will be forced to sell at a loss. I. Long term, Leslieville sounds like it has good potential, but the DVP, assisted living complexes, and nearby waste treatment plant make me think that it will never be the hottest ‘hood in the city.

Since $50k is too much to walk away from, is it possible to sell a condo on assignment (i.e. before it’s completed) in Toronto, like we do in Vancouver? I think it would be at least slightly cheaper for them to rent a place together for a year or two and get more for their money.

I admit, it’s a bit slimy – it would only work if there are still some Greater Fools out there – but I just don’t want to see her stress over depreciating home values & cramped spaces, or selling at a loss, while also adjusting to married life and maybe kids too.

On the other hand, they can afford the payment and will have a good chunk of equity from day 1. And maybe Leslieville is way, way better than it sounds from descriptions online and my recollections. Please tell me if I’m fretting for no real reason!

Thanks for your insight!
A Vancouver Bear

She has a good friend in a bear like you. Leslieville is a dump. The neighbourhood is iffy, and always has been – for a reason. It has a giant, dirty elevated highway running down one side, a smelly major urban waste treatment plan on the other and – because of low property values – has been populated by people in a lower economic bracket. Now the worst is happening. Greedy developers are trying to turn it into a yuppie park, which will displace those who have lived there affordably, while the inevitable result will be homes that will take a generation at least to reach their pre-sale values.

Get out! And, yeah, she can list the property for sale now even though it is not yet built, conditional upon clear title being received later. However, the odds of finding a GF now are slim. Prepare her for a haircut.

Dear sir…Thanks for your efforts and energy in writing this book..i don’t want to bore with a long dialogue of my life,but in the end i have more hope,as i lost my home,(divorce and the bankruptcy)…so at 54 on paper i am not a pretty picture…and being in saskatoon,as you know the prices are somewhere near the planet mars ( but the changes are quickly manifesting themselves)…i used to be in a dither about getting a ‘house’ again..but am now renting a beautiful condo for $945 a month..with parking and water included…when i mentioned that your book has give me hope,it really has..i am not in such a bad place after all…i am self employed with a great business..if you are ever in this city send me a note..i bought your book..i’ll let you buy the first round…thanks again..Campbell

Wisdom in Saskatoon. For $945 a month.

Hi Garth, I have purchased almost all of your books and I have enjoyed reading them.

Believe me, you cannot say that about all real estate/financial books! I tend to believe your opinions on the whole real estate fiasco and the ridiculous prices in Canada that has to change at some point. I have been looking forward to waiting for prices to come down and purchase cheap real estate in Canada as well as the US. My question to you is what do you think about the cheap deals in Arizona at the moment that a lot of Canadians have purchased? Do you think they are too early trying to buy at the low end of the cycle and they should be more patient? It is very tempting to snap a house up for $80,000.

Wouldn’t it be a relatively safe purchase if you paid it outright, used it for vacations or possibly rented it out, and kept it long term? I always thought I would wait for it to bottom out in the next year or two before buying but with so much interest and so many people buying at the moment, it is hard to believe it could be even cheaper. Help! Any thoughts on the matter would be appreciated.

The US experts figure the American housing crisis has about two more years to run before it hits bottom. That will likely mean a 15-20% price correction, on top of the 15% already experienced. Arizona, like California and Florida, has been one of the Ground Zeroes for this meltdown.

So, sure, you can buy a place for a lot less than three years ago. Or you can wait, and buy it for even less a year or two from now. Is there a reason that, as a Canadian, you are inherently smarter than the local Americans, who shun buying? Ask yourself that before you make an offer.

Also understand you’ll be subject to US withholding tax when you sell the property, which could deepen your losses. In addition, the place needs to be insured, maintained, financed and local taxes taken care of. If you rent it out, you will not get insurance, except at astronomical rates. If you buy a condo or townhouse or linked home in a development in decline, you will be powerless to do anything about its market value.

All in all, you’re a hell of a lot better to just take a vacation, and leave your appetite at home.

Just read your book “Greater Fool.” I live in Caglary and have had a really good price run up in my home. Actually we all have out here. Do you not think with the increase in natural gas and oil prices that the economy will keep rolling along in Alberta, especially Calgary? Will this not keep house prices from tanking? Or is the average family income not keeping up with the rise in real estate? Will there be a great effect from the baby boomers in Calgary. I hear the median age is about 40.

Would it be wise to sell, pocket $100,000, rent and wait for the house prices to decline? (I have no kids so a move to a condo would be easy).

Calgary’s housing market has already peaked and is on the far side of the valuation curve. The economy may be booming, but family incomes have not reflected that, while the cost of living has increased for everyone. Sadly, the Alberta effect is largely illusionary for the residents of the city of Calgary, and an outright disaster for those in Fort Mac.

The oil industry is in its heyday now. Like it or not, there will be carbon taxes inevitably imposed – by whatever government sits in Ottawa – and a looming energy crisis will mean further dislocations for the province. We are on the precipice of great societal change, so get used to volatility.

If I could pocket $100,000 in a tax-free capital gain, then live in a place subsidized by someone else, and chose not to, building my wealth, what would you call me? Idiot?

BTW, Alberta boosters, check this out.

Hi Garth,
You have said that most baby boomers are house rich but cashless and will need to sell their houses in order to retire. Isn’t this generation enjoying or will be enjoying their inheritance? Do you have any statistics on how many boomers are enjoying lifestyles funded by their parents’ wealth? Within my own family and circles of friends, I see some paying off mortgages, buying bigger homes or fancy cars, or putting money in swimming pools because they have inherited some money or are anticipating money coming down the road.

I think the baby boomers are better off than the future generations whose parents are unlikely to be able to retire.


The Boomers are the timebomb of this society. They account for 32% of the Canadian population, and have more than 90% of their wealth in residential real estate. Many of them are indeed taking on new debt and moving into trophy homes, while buying toys with HELOCs and ignoring the fact the financial ground is eroding beneath them. This is not a formula for happiness.

Meanwhile the Boomers are generally healthy, and will be one of the longest-lived generations in history. Living from the age of 65 to 85, without employment income, will require a huge amount of wealth – the majority of which is now locked in housing.

Figure it out. This is a key reason real estate is going down. The next decade will belong to those who understand this. Woodstock is dead.


#1 Dawn in Calgary on 06.22.08 at 1:04 pm

Reading Garth’s book does give me some sense of hope, renting in Calgary while most are still buying their trucks and big homes and toys.

Meanwhile the Calgary Herald is still firmly on the bandwagon, trumpeting today on page one the $7.5Million sale of a home.

There are signs though — our greedy landlords — the ones we are leaving because they keep putting up the rent — have had only two showings in three months and have reduced the price of the house rental three times — now are under what we currently pay and have said they will now accept pets.

At the age of 38 I wonder — should we ever buy a home, no matter how low they go? If the current cycle is going to last 10 years, why would I lock into a mortgage at the age of 48 or so? My eyes are wide open, but that lure of ownership still exists.

#2 Adam on 06.22.08 at 1:47 pm

I live in Victoria and I’ve been gathering anecdotal evidence on it’s pending doom. So far I’ve talked to someone who’s been paying their mortgage (interest only I might add) with their HELOC. Another keeps blending and extending to buy more toys. Almost everyone in their 30s that I’ve talked to has a 40 year mortgage and never plans to pay it off. These people are so crazy they laughed at me for saying that I was saving cash to buy my next vehicle (as in no car-loan). Gee what a concept. Anyway it’s going to be a disaster especially since I now realise that me and everyone else who’s been responsible will have to pay for their stupidity. It’s the Canadian way.

#3 sourgrapes on 06.22.08 at 4:35 pm

Hang in there!

He who laughs last laughs best.

Victoria RE will be one of the worst sufferers. It was one of the markets that increased the craziest within the shortest time, just ask Garth

#4 Roger on 06.22.08 at 6:28 pm


Victoria area real estate is set to drop over the coming months. The city of Victoria median has been dropping for several months. I have the latest stats and some analysis charts on my Website ( ). Condos will be the first to go with over 1200 available and only 168 sales in May. The rest of Vancouver Island is already a buyers market as shown in this BCREA graph ( )

#5 Danny on 06.22.08 at 8:30 pm

Again Garth Turner spouting off about things he doesn’t know about. I work in the area of Leslieville and have seen the most wonderful transformation to a neighbourhood with new restuarants, shopping and night entertainment. It is an area close to downtown, the beaches and the Danforth.
Leslieville was rated by Toronto Life magazine as one of the top areas to move to as the area is in major transformation. Your friends purchase will do well. The last time I checked Leslieville is no where near the expressway or the treatment plant.

Garth do your research before you spout off about neighbourhhoods that you know nothing about.

Know it well. You can have it. — Garth

#6 3rdman on 06.22.08 at 8:41 pm

Lose debt, RENT close to work so your not car-dependent and focus-in on saving for retirement.

#7 hal5001 on 06.23.08 at 1:12 am

I live in an area which hasn’t seen any price declines (Kelowna) as of yet. I have a town house that I own free and clear, which has doubled in value. The opportunity is there to sell, but what I want to know is where is the best place to put the money? I see the stock market is volatile, cash seems to be a negative investment if inflation figures in, and fixed income in the same boat. So….., is it better to keep the townhome and ride out the storm? I am thinking that to spread out my investments might be the safest option, and that includes a percentage in real estate. Any advice?

#8 Keith in Calgary on 06.23.08 at 1:33 am

The Calgary Herald….a “news” paper….LOL !! A publication that gets about 35-40% of their page count on weekends from RE advertising.

Yeah just gotta love the verbal sewage that comes out of CREB’s talking head, Ed Jensen.

“The big-money men aren’t bringing that kind of money to the market if they don’t see a long-term future here”….


I’ll tell you something…..filthy rich people buy high end stuff regardless of what the rest of the market, or the long term future, is going to be like. I’ve sold 6 figure cars to these folks for 20 years now, and in the middle of the early 90’s oil and gas recession, which was just after the introduction of the GST, I still sold every single $150K Porsche 911 Turbo, and 911 cabriolet we received in our allocation. After the tech bubble burst the same thing happened in 2000. The cheaper stuff went languishing and we had to give it away….but the high end stuff always sells to the wealthy.

It is absolutely no indication of the state of the market when a home like this sells for big bucks, or anything else for that matter.

#9 confused and a little crazed on 06.23.08 at 6:15 am

hi Garth,

I see one of your earlier posts in this section that you are suggesting interest rates will decrease modestly. But the interest rates are already so low for the longest time. By reducing intertest rates… you are only stimulating inflation with more easy money. Low interest rates will also influence ie Why would I purchase a 2.5 % GIC when I can purchase oil and commodities . the return will be so much better…thereby further inflating the above products even more.

thanks for the info

#10 Mike on 06.23.08 at 9:35 am

I truly cannot say that I am a big fan of Leslievile, but what I will say is that Starbucks put up a shop there on Queen street a couple years ago. However if you check Starbuck stock you know they are not doing that well. Generally Garth is correct… the first hint of any improvement has jacked prices through the roof there. Two years ago I saw a 14 foot wide (at best) row house sell in two days for over 400K on Boston avenue. No parking…no backyard … terrible basement… and right across from a factory that has been supposed to be loft condos for years now. Unlike the west end… like liberty village the infrastructure there is still in its infancy but the pricing is already way above its intrinsic value … The other real problem with Leslieville, although it has great potential, is soured land…ie land that has toxic waste buried just below the surface. Remnants from old factories… Hey if people are buying take advantage I guess and many people bought fixed up and sold at huge profits… not sure you can do that anymore …. certainly the Starbucks has meant the secret is out ….

#11 Aaron on 06.23.08 at 10:09 am

Hi Garth,

It’s me again from your story “…and Baby Makes Angst”. After some thought, my wife and I decided to sell our townhome in the Beach. The one we purchased only last year. As we noticed a glut of resale homes on the market we priced our home accordingly. It sold in 4 days! Our smartest decision was to truly assess the market and realize that we could no longer get a 20% gain in one year. However, we did end up receiving a 13% gain. After all fees associated with selling our home, buying a new one and moving, we still have a handsome profit to live off of during the year my wife is off on maternity leave. Much will be invested as well.

We have recently finished our purchase of a 4 year old resale home in Barrie. The home is within walking distance of the GO train so I can easily get to Toronto and no longer need my second vehicle. While the commute seems long, and may be a deterent to some, it is only 15 minutes longer than my current stoplight to stoplight, bumper to bumper commute. While on the train I can read, sleep, and no longer need to stress myself out before ever arriving to work.

Barrie will be our home now for a few years. It is going to allow us to lower our mortgage commitments (we negotiated a true steal from a ‘motivated seller’), save the $17/day parking in Toronto, and enjoy a quieter existence. We believe this decision to sell our Toronto home will save us $650/month after all is said and done.

What you forgot to mention when talking about small towns (Barrie) not having large public transport infrastructures is the the fact that the money spent on gas to travel is easily offset with the savings from other avenues such as parking, daycare ($150/week in Barrie, $600/week in Toronto), dining, haircare, and other services.

We are looking forward to the change, as well as the opportunity to create our own business based on experiences and knowledge gained while living in the great city of Toronto.

#12 Chinstrap on 06.23.08 at 10:55 am

I don’t think Leslieville should trade at the same $/ft as elsewhere although Brad lamb managed to convince buyers at several developments there it was… That said, the strip around Queen and Broadview has come up immensely in the last few years.

It’s not for everyone and can’t compare with Annex, Rosedale, Oakvillers, or those camped out in Caledon.. For the right bohemian types, there are cafes – Bonjour Brioches, new restos in Table 17 (ex-Izakaya) and Pic-Nic to add to The Citizen that’s already there..

I think Garth and the pro-Leslieville people both have their points..

#13 Robert B. on 06.23.08 at 11:54 am


Although I have read your book and agree with everything you’ve said (I’m a happy renter at 47), I disagree with your assessment of Alberta’s economy.

Conventional oil production peaked in 2005 according to Matt Simmonds. Unconventional oil production (mostly deep water oil, tar sands and some shale oil) have extended that production peak to this year. T-Bone Pickens said the oil price is caused by 87 million barrels per day of demand and only 85 mbpd of supply.

With demand outstripping supply the US must get more tar sands oil so there will be more projects in the future. The limiting factors are water and natural gas, both of which are needed in large amounts to get the oil flowing. To offset these limiting factors will be higher oil prices so that the net effect will be more tar sand oil. A carbon tax will reduce consumption here but most of the oil demand is being driven by China and India which are competing with the US for conventional oil.

Looking at the big picture, I believe that Alberta will replace Ontario as the richest province in the future. Factor in Ontario’s decline in manufacturing and it is easy for me to envision a migration west, much like in the last Great Depression.

This means higher prices in Alberta for real estate and lower prices for Ontario.

Regards, Robert

#14 Rob M on 06.23.08 at 12:42 pm

Agreed on Leslieville.

This is more knee-jerk stuff on the naysayers part [[everything must burn!!’]. Will it go down probably…but not that much at the end of the day 10-15% relative to other hoods in the city.

There are only so many areas of the near-downtown to gentrify that will attract today’s hipster. Leslieville is the that spot on the east side and it’s been accepted as mutant version of Queen West or Annex. Can’t really see that changing.

The fact that it might be toxic and a little dumpy is irrelevant – that may never be accepted as public knowledge.

We’re going back to location location location.

#15 Mylene on 06.23.08 at 1:12 pm

I agree with Aaron’s comments. Our mortgage is lower on our house. Living in Barrie is allowing us luxuries we couldn’t afford before. We pay an extra $200 per month on gas. We save approx. $1185.00 per month on parking at Yorkdale, ttc, higher mortgage on $640k semi which we gladly got rid of. In Barrie you can get what you’d normally pay $800k for in TO for less than half the price. Why not add the extra 30 minutes of commute? Bumper to bumper on the 401 no more. 1 hour on the GO train. Thank you very much!

#16 jrochest on 06.23.08 at 1:59 pm

Robert — the problem is that Alberta is still just a resource-selling economy. It’s a pretty expensive resource, of course, but it’s still no different than the lumber/mining/fishing economies of BC and the Maritimes. Once the resource is gone, or the price falls, the economy fails.

If Alberta were producing something other than oil and overpriced condos I’d agree with you, but it’s not. Southern Ontario is still the only really diverse economy in the country, which is why killing it will f**** us all.

#17 patriotz on 06.23.08 at 3:09 pm

This means higher prices in Alberta for real estate

You are looking at the demand side only and not the supply. All Alberta cities are surrounded by empty land in all directions. Supply of housing can expand without limit at low marginal cost.

There is a reason why all prairie cities in both the US and Canada have historically been cheap. Alberta RE prices have fallen since last year and will continue to fall until real prices get back to historical norms.

Texas has been one of the fastest growing states in the US for decades yet its RE prices are low by US standards. Dallas and Houston are less than 1/2 as expensive as Calgary and Edmonton despite being far bigger.

#18 Anonymous on 06.23.08 at 3:45 pm


You aren’t so smart yourself. Why pay cash for a new car when dealers are offering 0%?

Dodge (and now Chevy) are offering 0% for five years. That’s free money to borrow and makes sense to take advantage of. Even imports are getting into the act and are offering 0% for three years or 1.9% for five.

With inflation, your payment at year four and five is going to be way LESS. Think about it.

Plus the Canadian dollar is VERY expensive relative to the other currencies (esp. the US dollar). So why give them cash up front when five years from now, your Canadian dollar will be worth a lot less.

#19 Mike on 06.23.08 at 4:19 pm

The funny thing about Leslieville is seeing the range of people hanging there. You have the hipsters with their fancy lattés and mid thirty somethings pushing their 800 dollar strollers made in Italy right beside the 60 years guy who has been there for years hanging outside the Shoppers Drug Mart getting by on loonies and quarters.
No foul ordours like the smell you get in the west end near Parkside but kinda a feeling of the Twilight Zone ..
nothing seems to fit with each other. Its just not cohesive at this point. BUT for a real estate play it may be a good bet. My realtor , who has her head screwed on straight, told me of a couple who bought a townhouse near eastern for over 400k with no backyard , high maintenance costs, no driveway or parking ..just a house steps from Eastern and did the deal while backpacking in the east coast by phone/fax.
When my mother grew up in Toronto she was in the “raunchy” area near hazleton and webster. It was perceived to be raunchy but the location was dynamite and that won out over the long run. Leslieville might be the last area that can gentrify but I am not convinced it will be as lasting as the avenue road and hazleton area became. If it does it will take generations to happen and prices are already way to high for the current quality of the area. It has potential but like the stock market the potential has already been priced into the real estate around there. If it is an area dominated by the trendsetters than that may not be a good foundation for a long steady increase..
As for Lamb Developments… I did meet Brad at his recent pre release of lofts near Carlaw. Not sure if it all sold but the reception there was mixed at best… no one clamouring for two and three condos. Even he admitted it would take awhile for things to sell out . Plus they are building early next year and might be done in 2011… I even saw a yupster leave some material behind… I guess they all aren’t so easily convinced.

#20 kabloona on 06.23.08 at 6:02 pm

Funny, but on last week’s episode of “Big City Broker”, Brad was expounding his belief that TO wuz “chronically undersupplied” with housing stock, therefore everyone should just “suck it up ” (his words) and do whatever it took to get into the market “now”, while they still could.

That was circa Nov 2007, when the show was filmed….around the time of the 1 Bloor Street condo lineup fiasco. So here we are about 7 months out and all of a sudden there’s plenty of “supply” to go around….imagine that?

It’s amusing to watch the blarney these guy manage to spout with a straight face….

#21 Dave in Calgary on 06.23.08 at 6:35 pm

anonymous, with regards to your comments to Adam:

Perhaps by saving for a car, you won’t end up with one that you really shouldn’t have been able to afford. Then have to sell it when you owe more than its worth.

Kind of like saving for a house instead of just borrowing more money because someone is willing to lend it to you.

#22 Chuck D on 06.23.08 at 7:14 pm

Mike – I agree with many of your comments about Leslieville. It’s going to be a long time before I’d consider raising kids there but it might be a good location for some. It’s proximity to downtown being it’s main advantage. Values in Queen West are even higher and there are many of the same issues. Drugs users, homelessness etc.

In Leslieville the prices are already quite high and the overall housing stock isn’t great. It isn’t like your talking about an undiscovered or neglected area with really nices homes ready to be renovated and cleaned up. There are a few streets with some nice homes (such as Brooklyn) but there are many streets with poorly built semis that are already well over 400k. I almost bought one 6 years ago for 190k.

I think there are certain parts of the area such as on Carlaw south of Eastern that are hopeless. Row houses in bad shape, lots of different owners making it difficult and expensive for re-development.

#23 Adam on 06.23.08 at 8:13 pm

Who says I’m going to buy a new car? Only a fool would do that. I buy my cars at least one year old from someone who paid full price. Car companies aren’t stupid, that zero percent rate is factored into a higher price. Think about it.

#24 My_view on 06.23.08 at 8:41 pm

Oh Alberta, your boom will end……..

#25 The original Jim on 06.23.08 at 10:27 pm

Oh Alberta, your boom will end……..

Yes, and I pledge to never each chocolate again.

#26 Jim on 06.24.08 at 12:44 am

West is new hub to invest
Calgary earns name for itself as a global finance capital

#27 fahmy on 06.24.08 at 2:15 am

Garth, I don’t understand what you mean by “interest rates have nowhere to go but down”.

The energy and food crisis we’re experiencing is driving up inflation, and we’ve seen rates go up since the BOC stopped rate cuts.

I wonder if the higher rates will be the kryptonite of those that over extended themselves and bought the biggest houses banks told them they could afford

#28 Islander on 06.24.08 at 2:26 am

Oh Alberta, your boom will end……..

So, the green-jeans mayors of a bunch of U.S. pimpleburgs are going to dictate energy policy for the rest of North America?

I…don’t… think…so….

#29 Mylene on 06.24.08 at 10:06 am

Real estate: Where to buy now
Duncan Hood, Moneysense

Real estate agents like to tell you that what matters is location, location, location. They’re partly right. But what also matters is timing, timing, timing. Every city moves to its own economic rhythms. Smart real estate investing is a matter of knowing when to jump into the market and when to stay out.

How do you know when the time is ripe? Rather than relying upon gut feel, we decided to take a more scientific approach to the question. We compiled data on the 35 major markets tracked by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. We analyzed each market in three different ways — by Value, by Momentum, and by Economic Strength. We assigned each market a letter grade in each of the three categories, then combined all that info into one overall grade. We awarded an A to the top 20% of cities. Average prospects had to make do with a B, while lacklustre prospects were handed a C or worse.

More at Canadian Business Online:

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Many individual factors went into each grade. To calculate Value, for instance, we began by comparing average rents to average home prices, since we figured that the most basic indicator of a home’s value is how much rent it can put in your pocket. High rents indicate that, if you were hit by a financial crisis, you could rent out your home for a reasonable sum. Even if you never plan to rent out your home that is still a comforting thought.

To help us gain an even better sense of a city’s Value, we looked at local wages and figured out the number of years of average household income that it would take to purchase the typical local home. We downgraded communities where local residents couldn’t afford to buy homes easily; we gave highest marks to cities where they could. Our reasoning was that places where homes are affordable are places where real estate prices are solidly rooted in economic fundamentals and are therefore unlikely to plunge. The differences between communities can be huge. In Regina, a typical family needs two-and-a-half years of income to buy a home; in Vancouver, a typical family needs nearly eight years of income. Talking strictly in terms of bang for buck, Regina is a much better place to buy.

But, of course, Value isn’t everything. Some cities have enjoyed surging real estate markets for reasons that have little to do with local rents or typical wages. Some of these red-hot markets are cities that have lured outsiders with their natural beauty (think Vancouver); others are communities that have enjoyed bonanzas because of skyrocketing oil prices (that’s you, Calgary).

To give these cities their due we rated each of our 35 cities on Momentum, a measure of how hot each market is. To gauge Momentum, we looked at home sales in comparison to new real estate listings — a high number of sales-to-listings indicate that homes are selling relatively quickly and market momentum is therefore high. We also looked at how much home prices in each city have gone up over the last year and over the last four years. To top things off, we considered how much rents have gone up over the past four years, since rapidly rising rents indicate a community with pent-up demand for housing. If you’ve been following the real estate news, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that the runaway winners in our Momentum survey are Regina and Saskatoon.

The problem is that the same forces that conspire to drive up prices in a city can also turn in the opposite direction. To avoid being taken in by cities with weakening economies, we devoted our final grade to Economic Strength. We looked at how fast each community grew between 2001 and 2006 (the most recent year for which figures are available). We also factored in unemployment rates (based on 2007 data) and discretionary income levels, as well as a forecast from Canada Mortgage and Housing for unemployment in each city in 2008. The Economic Strength grades that resulted from all this number crunching held some surprises: it turns out that mighty Toronto and bustling Calgary have weaker economic outlooks than Fredericton and Barrie, Ont.

Finally, we rolled our grades for Value, Momentum and Economic Outlook into one overall grade for each community. We had no runaway winners, but we did find seven cities that deserve an A-. They’re a diverse lot. At the top are three Prairie cities — Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg — with relatively low home prices, strong momentum and good economic prospects. Just behind is Barrie, where home prices are higher and momentum is weaker, but the economic outlook is outstanding. By comparison, Sudbury, another mid-sized Ontario city, offers better home prices and stronger momentum, but dimmer economic prospects. Finally, Fredericton and Moncton demonstrate that New Brunswick has a lot to offer bargain hunters, especially as the province’s economy shows signs of life.

Our analysis suggests you can find decent prospects in each part of Canada. We caution you, though, to use our results with care. Nobody can gauge what a city’s economy will be like in 10 years. Our research, though, can help you analyze each city’s current strengths. And that’s a good starting point for any investor.

Go West, young investor

Three Prairie cities top our list of best places to buy now

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#30 Mylene on 06.24.08 at 10:15 am

Interesting take on Barrie…

The problem is that the same forces that conspire to drive up prices in a city can also turn in the opposite direction. To avoid being taken in by cities with weakening economies, we devoted our final grade to Economic Strength. We looked at how fast each community grew between 2001 and 2006 (the most recent year for which figures are available). We also factored in unemployment rates (based on 2007 data) and discretionary income levels, as well as a forecast from Canada Mortgage and Housing for unemployment in each city in 2008. The Economic Strength grades that resulted from all this number crunching held some surprises: it turns out that mighty Toronto and bustling Calgary have weaker economic outlooks than Fredericton and Barrie, Ont.

Finally, we rolled our grades for Value, Momentum and Economic Outlook into one overall grade for each community. We had no runaway winners, but we did find seven cities that deserve an A-. They’re a diverse lot. At the top are three Prairie cities — Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg — with relatively low home prices, strong momentum and good economic prospects. Just behind is Barrie, where home prices are higher and momentum is weaker, but the economic outlook is outstanding. By comparison, Sudbury, another mid-sized Ontario city, offers better home prices and stronger momentum, but dimmer economic prospects. Finally, Fredericton and Moncton demonstrate that New Brunswick has a lot to offer bargain hunters, especially as the province’s economy shows signs of life.

#31 SMWhite on 06.24.08 at 10:53 am

Anyone thinking of buying a second home, especially in the USA, give your head a shake.{EB1B0595-37FA-4542-88A2-CE470ACAF101}

#32 SMWhite on 06.24.08 at 12:23 pm{EB1B0595-37FA-4542-88A2-CE470ACAF101}

#33 Aaron on 06.24.08 at 12:24 pm

Being from New Brunswick and having just bought a home in Barrie, I’m feeling good right about now.

#34 Internal Exile on 06.24.08 at 1:51 pm

Am I wrong in thinking that Alberta’s “problem” is that because the “wealth” is resource based it employs (relatively) few people and the tap can be turned off in an afternoon. Add to that the fact free money creates inflation (which is why country’s like Norway created systems where the money was spent OUTSIDE their country) and I think the glowing reports of the west’s future may be over rated.

Maybe the problem isn’t which is better (resource or manufacturing) but that putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea. Oil money has become like crack cocaine in Alberta – a quick fix that will return to haunt it unless they find ways to invest it for the future. And in terms of the cost of the environment (ignore the “do gooder” mayors for a second) all Albertans have to do is look right across their border to the environmental nightmare in Montana left behind from mining there. No one factors in the cost of cleanup once the companies move on. I’m not a huge fan of the environmental cooks, but common sense tells me if you make a mess, sooner or later you’re going to have to clean it up, and it will inevitably be at PUBLIC expense.

#35 Mike on 06.24.08 at 1:54 pm

Thank Kablooma … too bad these blogs don’t link to who we are chatting with. Brad seems like a straight shooter kind of guy and savvy enough about where the young trends will be. He should do ok …. the buyers …not so much. Still I do agree it is relatively close to downtown but not a family hood IMO. I don’t watch any of those Cable created shows as they bore me to tears. We have all been brainwashed into thinking it is real TV or Real Entertainment but it is basically home movies on steroids. So much of what you see is dated
I watch BNN not HGTV so I am a dullard for sure.

#36 jrochest on 06.24.08 at 3:06 pm

The problem with the figures in the “Go West, Young investor” article is that they’re based on 2006 prices, and prices in both Regina and Saskatoon doubled in 2007, completely erasing the ‘Saskatchewan advantage”.

There’s currently 1400 unsold properties on the Saskatoon MLS (2000 if you include the outlying bedroom communities) and the inventory has been steadily building since February. It’s not as bad as the Calgary & Edmonton inventory problem, but it’s not good.

Anyone who follows this article’s advice will lose their money.

#37 Cheech on 06.24.08 at 4:54 pm

I lived all my life in Toronto, and worked on Booth and Eastern (Public Works). I’ve seen the city at street level and at sewer level .

Is Leslie a dump? That is subjective. But let’s be honest about Leslie.
1) Things are better, in that the biker bars have closed down and a Starbucks has opened. So if that is your criteria for gentrification, we have a winner.
2) It’s an older working class neighborhood with poorly built houses
3) It’s right next to an older industrial zone that has environmental issues which prohibit development.
4) And finally. Is it the type of place where a Walmart would be a marked improvement? Yeah, it would. ,
5) And more importantly Walmart thinks it fits in, So if I had to put my money, I’d put it on the beady eyed accounts at Walmart than the dopey hipster in the fedora. Walmart didn’t become a billion dollar behemoth by making mistakes placing their stores.

So paying $400k for a crooked semi with no parking next to a Walmart doesn’t look like that great a deal.

#38 Brian on 06.24.08 at 6:07 pm

How do you see all the signs and still write crap like this….–906-.htm

Never once mentioning forestry (kind of a big one in the BC economy), the boomers who will not be able to sell their homes, or the flood of homes currently on the market in Kelowna (up over 60% from May 07 to May 08). I suppose I should know better by know, and be highly suspect of ANY media article or story that uses the term “softening”.

#39 brazer on 06.24.08 at 6:48 pm

U.S. housing slump deepens

“U.S. home prices tumbled in April at the fastest rate since a widely-followed index was begun in 2000 with all 20 metropolitan areas posting annual declines for the first time.”

#40 Michael on 06.24.08 at 7:26 pm

Thanks for the article, Mylene. And many people laughed at me when I said the future of Canada was in Saskatchewan. This article explains why. Houses are still VERY affordable there, and any one with even a part time job shouldn’t have any problems finding a nice house in a good neighbourhood. Plus, the city is on the forefront of everyone’s radar, both inside and outside Canada. Even CBC is doing a report on this great little province titled Saskaboom. Like I say, I bought my properties this fall and am expecting about a $100,000 in appreication over the next years once their economy gets firing on all cylinders and prices start to climb to Calgary levels. My other friends who bought smaller condos have likewise been told even they will appreciated roughly $50,000 by summers end as apparently their housing market is still playing catch up to rest of Canada major metro centers like Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto. Potash, Diamonds, Gold, and lots and lots of oil, combined with an hard working population of young professionals makes this a smart province to invest in. With a healthy inventory still available for savy investors, there has never been a better time to invest in Saskatchewan. Don’t wait and miss out on this great opportunity.

#41 jrochest on 06.24.08 at 9:12 pm

Michael: Allow me to translate.

“I bought my properties this fall” = you bought at the peak of the 54% year over year increase driven by Albertan speculators. You are now royally screwed, unless the population (currently 200,000) quintuples to a million, driving up the population of this small, Windsor-sized town to the level of Canada’s five largest urban agglomerations.

I’m thinking your odds would be better with a 6/49 ticket.

“Healthy Inventory” = the largest in living memory. MLS has 1400 units in the city proper and 500 in the surrounding bedroom communities. Normal inventory is about 400-600 properties.

“Appreciation roughly by $50,000 by summers end” = given that sales are down YOY, inventory is up and asking prices are dropping, you’d better hope those buyers hurry. Especially on condo conversions.

The best place for info on Saskatoon real estate is Norm Fisher’s blog:

Run by an honest and smart realtor: stats, informationo and a good balance between bulls and bears, with a nice line in straight talk.

#42 michael-you lose on 06.24.08 at 10:46 pm

Dear Michael,
I suppose you have not read Garth s book. All the price apperciation that has washed over Canada is an illusion.
So is the price appreciation that has happened the world over in the last few years. It has been fuelled by cheap money, lower standards for qualifying for a mortgage…oh and also things like crime, fraud, greed (like yours for example). Just like in the USA, England, Ireland, Australia, Spain….the gains will be washed away, much like your dreams Im afraid. You are THE GREATER FOOL. Your comments are laughable. How can you buy a home for $300,000 with a part time Job? Your local papers reports of the “Saskaboom” (what a rediculous sounding word) are pipe dreams. The lies you have been told by Realtors who took a two week course to manage Hundreds of thousands of dollars for people (and who before they were licenced were car sales men/radio shack salesmen/stay at home moms with high school education) only fed back to you the rubbish they heard on the radio on their way to open the door for you. “The market is HOT” “Real estate always goes up” “Get in before your priced out FOREVER”. Saskatchewan, Alberta, BC have NOTHING they did not have 2-3 years ago (besides a MUCH higher cost of living….BTW did you get a 50+% raise in the last two years?). NOTHING has changed. The price of commodities has risen. This means while you are stretching to pay your mortgage on your over priced property you will be struggling to buy gas and food. Rises in real estate values can only be sustained by an equal rise in wages. Supply and demand/cheap money will force prices up TEMPORARILY, but they will come down and revert to the mean as they always have. Look at history. Calgary prices are a joke, Saskatchewan prices at Calgary levels is also a joke. Just like in the USA the prices will take YEARS to come down. The value of your house will change by $100,000 over the next few years your right, I just think your wrong about which way….SELL

#43 Mylene on 06.25.08 at 9:25 am

We worry about the West…look at this article about the East Coast

Lost generation? Exodus of youth presents ‘scary’ challenge on aging East Coast

Module body

Mon Jun 23, 2:16 PM

By Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

HALIFAX – Scott Wetton stares at a graph that depicts a grey-haired future in Atlantic Canada, shakes his head and says, “That is scary.”

The graph produced by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council shows how the East Coast will become what one economist calls “a canary in the coal mine” for the country’s coming era of labour shortages, unless there are big increases in immigration or the birth rate.

Wetton, a 23-year-old engineering graduate form Dalhousie University, and his classmate Jacqueline Poushay, 24, are packing up their possessions and moving west, a move that is common among their generation.

By 2031, the council says there will be 671,000 East Coast residents over the age of 65 – almost double current levels – while the number of people aged 40-49 plummets by 80,000 people.

“Without the middle-aged people paying for those older people, how are we going to keep our hospitals funded? How will we pay for this?” asks Wetton.

Atlantic Canada is grappling with a potent combination. It is suffering an exodus of its young people during a time when there is a Canada-wide demographic trend of retiring and aging baby boomers.

Some economists say Canadians should see the region’s challenges as an early signal of what an aging country will face, and the response may provide some answers for the rest of Canada.

“We are an early warning system for the country,” says Donald Savoie, a professor at the University of Moncton who has followed and written about the region’s economic development for three decades.

Atlantic Canada must increase immigration, find ways to recruit and retain young workers, and plan for a big hike in its health-care bill, he argues, or “there will be a day of reckoning” when basic services won’t be available.

Brian Lee Crowley, a director with the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, says the region faces a challenge as it adjusts to a new world of labour shortages.

“We are a canary in the mine, yes,” he says.

Crowley, who is working on a book about Canada’s coming demographic shift, said he’s found that twice as many Atlantic Canadians as other Canadians are migrating to other provinces.

“The big challenge for our economy will no longer be how do we warehouse these workers we don’t know what to do with, but instead, how do we encourage people not to retire and to upgrade their skills?” he says.

While various groups agree on the problem, they differ on the solutions.

Unlike the past 40 years, Crowley argues Atlantic Canadians must not expect higher transfer payments as “compensation” for the difficulties facing the region.

“If we pursue our usual strategy, which is to say that we are victims and it is all Alberta’s fault for luring away our young people and there is nothing we can do about it … we will only cause our decline to accelerate and we will not offer a model of anything except of how not to do things,” he says.

But New Democrat MP Peter Stoffer, who represents the Halifax-area riding of Sackville-Eastern Shore, says Ottawa needs to play a central role in helping the region cope with the demographic crunch.

If federal transfer payments based on population levels decline and basic services like health or daycare fall apart, then Stoffer says the out-migration trend may worsen as young families flee.

He also suggests there are opportunities in having an older population.

“There’s job training needed for the future. … We could become a centre of excellence for geriatric care,” he says.

The recent analysis released by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council – which was based on Statistics Canada data – says there has been a net loss of about 72,500 people to other parts of the country over the last decade. In 2006, Atlantic Canada’s population had dropped by more than two per cent.

Studies show a large percentage of those leaving Atlantic Canada are young and well educated.

The long-term trend is hard to stop for simple financial reasons, even among students like Jacqueline Poushay, who professes a love for the East Coast’s gentle scenery and ocean vistas.

“My heart is in Nova Scotia,” she says as she gets ready to pack for an environmental engineering job in Calgary that pays about $70,000 a year, about double her best offer in Nova Scotia.

The native of Sydney, N.S., says as young people migrate and become established, their siblings follow, increasing the migration.

“I’ll be the first in family to move out West, but now that I’m out there, my sister is coming out this summer to be with me,” says Poushay. “I have another sister in the nursing program at Cape Breton University and she’s already said ‘When I’m done, you guys are out there and I don’t want to be by myself.’ ”

Savoie says the most notable feature about the latest statistics is they show a sustained trend, unlike shorter bursts of departures in the 1970s and ’80s.

“In the past we had some peaks and valleys when it lasted for a year or two, what we’re seeing now is more sustained,” he said.

Areas where out-migration has been among the heaviest, including Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick, may soon become regions in the greatest need of workers as large energy and mining projects come on stream.

The economic council study notes that Newfoundland and Labrador has felt the loss of workers most acutely, with a net loss of 42,000 people over the last decade.

With a surge in revenues from the oil and gas industry, the province needs workers.

Writing in Atlantic Progress magazine, economist Wade Locke recently estimated that a series of mining and oil projects in Newfoundland and Labrador could create 15,000 jobs by the first three months of 2010.

“The province is becoming a smaller scale or an earlier version of Alberta, at least in terms of its prosperity,” wrote Locke, a professor at Memorial University in St. John’s, N.L.

Jack Mintz, an economist at the University of Calgary, argues there is little cause for panic and Atlantic Canada may actually benefit from its demographic loss.

“You have all this oil and gas and mining. All of these things are there with fewer people. You become wealthier on a per capita basis,” he says.

Mintz says higher Western wages are countered by high housing costs, and many workers from Atlantic Canada are merely commuting back and forth, carrying cash home.

“It’s not necessarily all negative for the Atlantic in that unemployment is down and wage rates are going to have to go up,” he says.

The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council’s report also notes that Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia gained more people than they lost over the last six months of 2007, though researchers are still waiting to see if that will become a permanent reversal.

Part of the possible turnaround rests on whether young engineers like Poushay choose one day to return to have a family in the Maritimes, and help build her profession.

But there is no guarantee she will return.

“The West is where I’m going to meet somebody and start a life,” said Poushay. “When you move into a neighbourhood and make friends, it gets a lot harder to uproot yourself and come back.”

#44 Crikey on 06.25.08 at 11:58 am


” I bought my properties this fall and am expecting about a $100,000 in appreication over the next years once their economy gets firing on all cylinders and prices start to climb to Calgary levels”

I live in Saskatoon. I put you posting up on the bulletin board at work and everyone who walked by laughed so hard they almost wet their pants.

Thanks for the laughs!!

#45 Terra on 06.25.08 at 12:15 pm

Danny says: the last time I checked Leslieville is nowhere near treatment plant.

It seems you want you want to see… Leslieville borders the largest treatment plant in Canada. This is from Wikipedia:

The neighborhood still has some challenges. A fortified site along Eastern Avenue was the main Toronto base of the Hells Angels until it was raided by police and confiscated in 2007. A number of large public housing complexes built in the neighborhood in the 1960s and 1970s suffer from ills due to bad design. Just to the southeast of the neighborhood is the massive Ashbridges Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant, Canada’s largest. Concerted efforts ave been made to eliminate odours from the plant, but they still do sometimes waft over the area.

#46 Internal Exile on 06.25.08 at 2:27 pm

Poor Leslieville!

I lived in the Beaches for 15 years – I think you could make an argument that the Sewage Treatment…er…”Wastewater Treatment Plant”… is as close to that area as it is to Leslieville. You could definitely smell it on the right day with the wind in the right direction. But it doesn’t seem to affect the RE values there!

And the Hell’s Angels – come on! Do you think they’re going to crap where they live?

Still, if it says it in wikipedia, I guess it must be true (sorry Terra, couldn’t resist!)

#47 Danny on 06.27.08 at 3:11 pm

Terra, the treatment plant your refering too is located at Coxwell and Eastern Avenue. Which is less than 1 km from million dollar homes in Woodbine park. That right million dollar homes. Leslieville’s real boundaries are just west of Carlaw along Queen Street to Greenwood. I have worked in the area for over 10 years Leslieville is on the move and the direction is – upwards!

#48 Andrew on 07.13.08 at 1:29 pm

Danny says: “the last time I checked Leslieville is nowhere near the treatment plant.” “Leslieville’s real boundaries are just west of Carlaw along Queen Street to Greenwood”

Danny, the Ashbridge’s Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant is not at Coxwell and Eastern. The park at that corner, which includes sports facilities and some nice landscaping, is called Pumphouse Park. It is part of the treatment plant’s 100 acre property, but the main odour producing treatment facility is south-west from there and the address is 9 Leslie Street. It is west of Greenwood, east of Carlaw, and south of Queen, which places in firmly on the boundaries of Leslieville as you described them.

You can certainly debate it’s affect on property values, but it’s absolutely incorrect to say “Leslieville is nowhere near the treatment plant”.

#49 Class Warfare, they say…. « Belonging Community: Being at home in an urban neighbourhood on 11.09.08 at 11:52 pm

[…] switch to upper class enclave, though, like nearby Riverdale or the Beach. He explains, in his blog advising a woman to sell and move away, that Leslieville is “iffy” and “a […]

#50 Maria on 06.01.09 at 3:36 pm

wow…up until yesterday, I thought Leslieville was the way to go, considering queen & king west rpices are far too high.
Having said this, and having read everyone’s comments, what do you think is a good up and coming neighbourhood in the Toronto area? I really don’t want to go suburbs!