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The number of families living in Ontario is anticipated to increase over the next decade, meaning home developers will need to build new residences to meet the impending wave of demand.

According to a recently published research paper by the Smart Prosperity Institute, the province needs to provide about one million net new homes within the next 10 years to keep up with the formation of young families and housing supply shortages. Of the 910,000 net new families that will form during the decade-long timeline, the Ottawa-based think tank predicts that 195,000 families will live in high-rise apartments and 715,000 will live in all other forms of housing.

New construction builders are already exploring and executing family-oriented projects that will provide future Ontario households with the amenities and conveniences they desire.

When looking at the past decade, Mark Cohen, managing partner of TCS Marketing Systems, said that housing in the Greater Toronto Area grew vertically as developable lands became scarce. As a result, buildings became taller and units shrank in size as affordability became a leading point of conversation in the new construction industry.

Despite these changes, Cohen said that families are learning to live in smaller spaces, opt for parks over private backyards and are using communal amenities.

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“There is clearly still a demand for family friendly housing and we see newcomers to the country looking for homes suitable for multi-generational living as well,” said Cohen. “The most popular product that suits family living is the townhome, and we are seeing this product experiencing the highest demand.”

Cohen explained that developers are meeting the demand for family-friendly housing by offering various types of townhomes which maximize living space and tend to offer amenities that are appealing to families. Shared facilities such as rooftop entertaining spaces, outdoor play surfaces, ground-floor retail, dedicated children zones and daycare rooms are being incorporated into current projects to foster a family-oriented environment, said Cohen.

In some cases, townhome developers may allow purchasers to customize floor plans to their family needs. Cohen points to the Wycliffe at the Promenade project in Vaughan, which allows buyers to add a bedroom and change the use of spaces.

“That really spoke to buyers who have families,” said Cohen.

With the price of a new single-family home now at a record-high of $1,573,764 in the GTA, more families may be drawn to condo and suite living as an alternative. Cohen said that condo living is becoming more common with families, especially those with small children or first-time buyers who are transitioning into home ownership.

“The pandemic highlighted the need for outdoor space and flex spaces with so many working from home,” explained Cohen. “These features added into new projects will also be ideally suited for those with young families looking to buy their new home in a high-rise condo.”

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Family households often look for new properties that are situated close to schools and other child-friendly conveniences. While developers are working to cater to the family demographic through their amenity offerings, it’s often the location of the project itself that determines how family-friendly it actually is.

“School zones are a primary driving factor when choosing a home and another is often access to transportation making for ease of commuting,” said Cohen. “We have seen a lot of mid-rise projects focus on family friendly neighbourhoods and they have been successful in selling out quickly.”

Cohen explained that TCS Marketing Systems is seeing a lot of development activity in the east end of the Greater Toronto Area, such as Whitby and Pickering, as well as Barrie and East Gwillimbury to the north. Areas such as Oakville and Durham Region are popular communities too for families who are seeking a mix of affordability, space and family-friendly neighbourhoods.

“Mid-rise and townhomes lead the way in these markets as families are open to moving further from the city for more indoor [and] outdoor space,” said Cohen.

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