Buying community

By Mark McAllister

How much would you want to live in Rosedale, Forest Hill or on The Bridle Path? Can you see yourself in one of those nice big, beautiful homes in an upscale part of Toronto? Some say they would jump at the chance if they won the lottery. Those on a more modest budget might prefer to purchase a cozy villa in Birchcliffe, East York or The West Mall. In those spots you could have a decent sized lot, you’re generally safe and all the amenities are still relatively close. It may not be about rubbing elbows with the city’s elite but at least you can have a coffee next door, right?

One look at real estate listings and it’s easy it see how much community plays a huge part when buying a home. Marketing properties for sale isn’t just based on the number of bedrooms and what kind of shape it’s in but all that’s in the immediate vicinity as well. Agents take out ads and put up signs based the neighbourhoods they focus on. Key words like “family friendly” and “green space” pop up everywhere. Web sites sporting the Bloor West and Leaside monikers are dedicated solely to the sale of space in that area. The Toronto Real Estate Board has an entire section dedicated to breaking the city into nicely-named pockets with maps and lists of stores and schools nearby.

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There has been much debate in recent years about the market in Toronto and when the housing bubble will burst. One woman recently received a lot of attention for her blog making fun of outrageous bidding wars and the cost for what you get in the GTA. Much is driven by new development and condos virtually being built along every main corridor though. A lot of the interest in certain places can be attributed to where that activity is taking place. Families are always looking for the right school district. Boomers want an area that they can settle into.

What if someone said you could find the perfect place – at just the right price – in the heart of Parkdale? First instinct for many would be to look elsewhere and weigh your options. It might change things a little if you found out that community happens to be nominated as one the “Great Places in Canada” in a contest held by urban planners. So too is Roncesvalles Village just around the corner. They may not offer some of the luxury found in Lawrence Park or Summerhill but how much value is there in a massive space compared to what you’re surrounded by?