Toronto is the world’s hottest luxury real estate market

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Source: The Star
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Toronto was the “hottest” city in the world last year among the growing number of rich and not-always famous scouring the planet for luxury real estate.

Toronto saw a staggering 37 per cent surge in high-end residential real estate purchases from so-called HNWIs — high net-worth individuals — in 2014, according to the third-annual survey of luxury buying trends by Christie’s International Real Estate.

Thanks to factors like the weak Canadian dollar, Toronto came out on top for growth in demand among highly desirable urban destinations, out of more than 80 global markets examined by Christie’s.

The buying spree by multimillionaires and billionaires was fierce worldwide in 2014, says Christie’s, given the continuing explosion of newly wealthy — some 200 new billionaires just from 2013 to 2014.

Plus, buying in Canada has become a real bargain given the slumping dollar and what’s happening in the rest of the world: Globally, a record 18 homes were listed at more than $100 million (U.S.) last year.

Five of them sold at those stratospheric highs, the most expensive a $147-million mansion in the Hamptons on New York’s Long Island and a home on the French Riviera for $146 million.

Toronto was also catapulted into the Top 10 “Best of the Best” cities of the world, along with Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Paris, San Francisco and Sydney.

But pricey and picturesque Muskoka also hit the luxury real estate radar, with an almost 70 per cent surge in sales among wealthy looking for iconic and idyllic “weekender” getaway places.

That put the Bridle Path of Ontario cottage country above sales growth seen in Massachusetts’ Berkshires and Nantucket, according to Christie’s, which features a handy dollar conversion feature on its Canadian listings.

That six bedroom, eight bathroom “one-of-a-kind luxury escape” now for sale near Seeley Bay with its private tennis court, oversized entertaining dock and “standalone fitness building” may be listed by Christie’s for $14.7 million Canadian, but that’s a mere $12.2 million U.S.

The growth in demand for multimillion-dollar Toronto houses and even $1 million-plus condos outstripped sales gains in London, New York and San Francisco, which was the 2013 record-holder, having “startled the world” with an “astronomical” 62 per cent increase in luxury sales over 2012.
Christie’s notion of “luxury” puts the world and its wealthy into perspective.

For Toronto, San Francisco and Paris, the average is more than $3 million (U.S.), New York and London are $6 million plus, Hong Kong is $5 million plus, Los Angeles is $8 million plus.

The real estate agent to the rich also points out that 2014 was a bit of a come down from 2013, when “the world’s top cities experienced an explosion in luxury home sales . . . fuelled by pent-up demand, increasing consumer confidence, and robust stock market returns.”

Through 2014, the world’s luxury real estate markets settled into “a slower but stable velocity” — with the notable exception of Toronto, now basking in the glow, like many global cities, of a booming downtown and unprecedented demand from both young professionals and downsizing baby boomers to live closer to the action.

Toronto has also been a major magnet the last few years for wealthy foreign buyers looking to relocate, add to their extensive real estate holdings or move their families here because of the country’s top universities, stable government and perception as a safe place to park money.

In fact, 2014 was the second-best year on record here for luxury sales, according to Chestnut Park Realtor Justine Deluce, who is quoted in the report, pointing to a problem now plaguing much of the Toronto market.

“If there had been more inventory, the record would easily have been shattered,” said Deluce.

The report looks at real estate purchases in jet-set destinations (Canary Islands, Spain saw the most sales growth in a sector that averaged a 75 per cent increase in sales in 2014), Lifestyle and Regional Resorts (Sun Valley, Idaho) and Suburban (Connecticut Shoreline.)

Christie’s also noted the growth in “experiential luxury” purchases among the new wealthy who are “more informed, more globally exposed and more sophisticated than previous generations.” They are even less materialistic, the report notes.

In Toronto, the desire for “experiential” home features includes adding meditation gardens or outdoor showers, says Deluce.

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