Photo: Trent Szmolnik / Unsplash

New York and downtown Toronto might sport similar skyscraper-studded skylines and attract the ultra-wealthy to their luxury real estate offerings, but their condominium markets remain worlds apart.

While Toronto tends to view itself as the NYC of Canada, market research released this week shows that the condo market in Canada’s largest city and financial hub continues to be much cheaper when compared to the urban giantess of Manhattan.

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After crunching some numbers this week, Doug Vukasovic, a sales representative with Zoocasa, shared his observations through a report, Toronto Vs. Manhattan: A Condo Market Comparison. Vukasovic notes that in comparing the Big Apple to the smaller Canadian McIntosh, it’s a tale of two cities.

“While the market in Toronto is starting to look more Manhattan-like, we’ve got a ways to go before inventory and prices in the former come close to approaching those in the latter,” he writes in the report.

To no surprise, Manhattan condos are expensive compared to Toronto — as of Q3 2019, the average one-bedroom unit in Manhattan will run you $1,148,827, while in Toronto, you’ll pay a more modest $617,232. The demand for one-bedrooms in each city are close, taking up approximately 52 percent of the sales share in Toronto and 43 percent in Manhattan. Even new construction condo prices in Manhattan vastly outshine Toronto, according to data from BuzzBuzzHome, with the median Manhattan condo list price clocking in at $2,175 per square foot compared to $1,090 per square foot.

Size and geography are important factors when it comes to relating these price points. Manhattan is an island less than 60 square kilometers in size, so the restricted land mass dictates demolishing and rebuilding for more units, and premium prices for pre-existing buildings. According to data from Compass, the average size of a one-bedroom Manhattan condo is 779 square feet, making the average price per square foot $1,494.

Photo: James Bombales

“Since the turn of the 20th century, there’s been nowhere to go but up — literally. Owning a home in Manhattan today almost invariably means owning a condominium in a multi-unit building,” writes Vukasovic.

Space in Manhattan is a luxury, much more so than Toronto. If you’re looking to splurge on a downtown condo, how much space you want will influence where you buy and how many bedrooms you’ll settle for. In Manhattan’s Upper East Side, condos are an average of 3,868 square feet in size. Older buildings in this area of the city are more spacious, but more costly too — the average price of a condo is $11,400,011, at an average price per square foot of $2,947. To compare, condos in Toronto’s similarly posh Yorkville neighbourhood are smaller — about 890 square feet — but come at a fraction of the cost at $1,014,835 or $1,140 per square foot.

The exorbitant price of one-bedroom Manhattan condos might explain the slightly higher demand for studio apartments than Toronto. Ten percent of the sales share belongs to studios in Manhattan, while only four percent in Toronto. The two cities also rack up slightly more comparable price points in this category, with Toronto studios asking $452,913 and NYC studios at approximately $692,215 for the average size of 547 square feet, at approximately $1,303 per square foot.

As Vukasovic points out, Manhattan is the playground of the world’s elite — one million millionaires live in NYC alone, about a third of Toronto’s entire population. While Toronto’s Yorkville and Rosedale boast plenty of ultra-wealthy residents, they don’t hold a candle to the scale of Manhattan’s wealthy population. Toronto’s condo market isn’t prohibitively expensive and competitive in the way that Manhattan’s is.

“By contrast, the smaller number of wealthy families in Toronto are still able to find sizable freehold properties in (or just outside of) the core — in neighbourhoods like Rosedale, Forest Hill, Bedford Park, and the Bridle Path — meaning the market remains muted for larger, luxury condos in the most desirable districts,” writes Vukasovic.

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