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Condo madness in Toronto

Beyond the Sea is beyond the pale

In an effort compared to lining up for a Bruce Springsteen concert, about 150 real estate agents, some with lawn chairs, bottled water, sleeping bags and snacks, camped out overnight for a shot at a new Lake Shore Boulevard condominium that won’t even be built until 2010. The first phase of Beyond the Sea, located just west of Park Lawn Road, sold out in just two days last June; it’s likely phase two’s 279 suites will be snapped up quickly. Both towers won’t be ready for another three years.

In the spirit of Toronto’s seemingly insatiable appetite for real estate, a line-up for Beyond the Sea was already growing at 9:30 a.m. yesterday. It ended shortly after noon today, when the developer started handing out numbers for a first-come, first-served process. Aside from a few words from people guarding against budders, the night went by smoothly.

Each agent, representing clients, was allowed to purchase a maximum of two units. “The only thing that’s missing are wristbands,” said Surinder Chandi, an agent who compared the line-up to getting tickets for the hottest show in town. Margaret Attwood, a Royal LePage agent, enlisted the help of her niece and her boyfriend, 20 and 23 years old. “I paid them $100 each,” she said yesterday, and warned them to expect to stay the night. That expense secured her spot number 73.

This isn’t the first time prospective buyers have camped out for their chance at pre-construction units, but agents say it’s happening with more frequency. “If the location is good, you will see more of this,” predicted Re/Max rep Jolly Deol. “People think Toronto is still undervalued compared to other cities,” he said, like New York, Chicago and Vancouver.

Condos account for about 40% of all housing sales in Toronto. According to a recent report by TD Bank Financial, the city is forecast to see a 4.2% annual appreciation in resale condos. The average condo is expected to cost $249,888 by the end of this year, compared to $239,816 in 2006. Some agents dismissed the Beyond the Sea enthusiasm as “hype,” saying lineups generate lineups.

Sundeep Bahl estimated that about 60% of the buyers will be investors. He was in line today representing two of them. “The actual buyer [who wants to occupy] will never be able to hold off for three years,” he said. “And those are an uncertain three years.”

Beyond the Sea touts itself as “affordable waterfront living.” The showroom, located in an Etobicoke warehouse, has been painted sky blue and has a massive starfish attached to the front. Its floor plans — named Shoreline, Starfish and Coastal — range in size from 481 square feet to nearly 1,200; bachelor suites start at $169,900 and the most expensive penthouse begins at $619,900.

“We are overwhelmed with the response,” said Karen Kessell, vice-president of sales and marketing for Empire Communities, the Beyond the Sea developer. “In the last six months, we have seen other condominium projects in the city experience the same type of enthusiasm by the real estate industry. I guess it just speaks volumes about how the real estate market is doing in the city of Toronto.”

But Empire Communities has also worked for this kind of turnout — two years of planning led up to a three month advertising campaign that featured the catchy Bobby Darin song Beyond the Sea. “It’s meant to create awareness of the project and hopefully get the buzz in the market for people talking about it, phoning, wanting to come in.”

July 27, 2007 in New in New Homes | Permalink


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I'd be interested in a follow-up on this post. Several of the downtown San Diego condo developers have recently offered rebates as high as 20-30 percent to the people who purchased at pre-construction prices a few years ago. The buyers have been generally accepting of the concessions, and few have walked away from their deposits. The new condo developments in San Diego still have a very high likelihood of success.

Posted by: Geoff In La Jolla | May 20, 2009 2:43:53 PM

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