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Why multi-family developers are shifting their customer focus

One aspect of the Toronto housing market that I’ve been paying close attention to is the adoption of multi-family dwellings by both long-term end-users and families. 

I’ve written about this before (here and here, over a year ago) and have argued that here in Toronto we are at an inflection point. Multi-family dwellings – both rental and condo – are evolving to now target these new customer segments. Whereas previously, the new construction multi-family housing market was heavily geared towards investors and first-buyers. And often it was simply a stepping stone towards a single family home.

Now, every city and real estate market is different. And I have heard many people in U.S. cities say that Millennials are simply deferring what we saw with previous generations. At the end of the day they (or we, I’m a Millennial) are going to move to the suburbs and buy that car. The current trends we are seeing around city living and reduced driving are just that – short-term current trends.

But I think it’s worth reiterating: I do not believe that the status quo is what’s happening right now in Toronto. And I’m sure it’s also happening elsewhere. Time and time again I speak to developers in this city who are starting to shift at least some, and in some cases all, of their focus towards end-users, families, and larger units – particularly for new mid-rise product in the “neighborhoods.”

And if you think about it, this makes perfect sense. 

The average price of a detached single family house in Toronto is well north of a million dollars. So when a developer brings to market a 1,200 sf family sized apartment at $600 psf ($720,000) or even at $700 psf ($840,000), that home now becomes a relatively “affordable” option in many desirable areas of the city. Particularly if you value location amenities and your time (i.e. shorter commutes) over raw quantity of space. I know I certainly do.

I know this isn’t going to appeal to everyone. But there is a big market here. Get ready.

What are you seeing in your city? Let us know in the comment section below.

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