Finding a condominium in downtown Toronto has been a bigger challenge than Jason Cruz first anticipated.
Last year the search took him a week and he wound up in a suite for $1,500 a month. Since May, he said he has been searching for a new condo and found prices higher, and competition to get a place even greater.
“I don’t have enough money to buy a condo. And to rent, it’s very time consuming and I need help,” said Cruz.
He said he has since been working with a realtor to view suites, something he found challenging to do on his own.
“A lot of the times, I can’t just go into a condo and look at it for myself. I need a real estate agent and it’s not as easy as I want it to be,” he said.
His plan is to get a one bedroom unit with a den for around $2,000 and have a friend move in to help offset the cost of rent. Another requirement is a pet-friendly unit since Cruz has a young bird.
“Whenever they say not pet-friendly and then I say, ‘It’s just a little bird’ … and they’ll say, ‘No, I don’t think so.'”
Pauline Lierman, director of market research at Urbanation, said vacancy rates are near a historical low
The Toronto-based real estate consulting firm keeps track of the new, resale, rental and proposed condominium apartment markets in the Greater Toronto Area.
“We survey both condominium and new purpose-built rentals in the city and on our new purpose end, which is anywhere from 2005 onwards, it’s actually 0.1 per cent,” she said.
She said an increasing number of suite-seekers are using broker networks to navigate the challenging terrain of Toronto’s rental market.
Lierman said she believes buyers need to be highly strategic in their approach.
“You should have your references in order, you should have your history in order, you should have your credit check in order, your employment,” she told Global News.
“Tick the boxes completely before you go in there.”
Condo rents grew by more than five per cent between the first and second quarters of 2017, according to statistics shared by Urbanation.
The average rent went beyond $2,000 a month, equivalent to about $2.89 per square foot based on an average size of 717 square feet.
Lierman said city-dwellers can expect to pay $1,600 to $1,800 a month for a one-bedroom unit. She said a two-bedroom unit in Toronto can cost $2,000 and higher.
The location of the building and the level of supply are important factors.
Realtor Larry Vino said he has seen the rise in urgency in the market firsthand.
“There are a lot of people willing to do whatever it takes to get the unit and we’re seeing a lot of people bidding up $200 to $300 over asking price for leases,” he said.
“We’re seeing people paying up front six months to a year.”