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2180 Steeles Avenue West,
Suite 204, Concord,
ON, L4K 2Z5

Phone:     905-761-7001
Toll Free: 1855-761-7001
Fax:          905-761-7005

Email: mortgageadvisor@rogers.com





12 September 2019

Smaller condos and larger houses – two main extremes of Canada’s real estate market

In case you think your condo has become smaller, don’t worry, it’s not your imagination playing with you, it is true. Condo sizes have been really decreasing in Canada during the recent years.

Meanwhile, the size of single-detached houses has been only rising.

As a rule, the size of a unit is based on the potential tenant. Smaller families or individuals prefer small units, while growing families choose larger houses. As a result, the new housing plans need to reflect the trends and future forecasts. For instance, in case the family sizes are expected to shrink, builders will have to account for it in their new projects.

This year, Statistics Canada released a report focusing on unit sizes and their assessed values in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Ontario. It turns out, the average size of a condo living area built in Ontario in 2016-2017 reached 665 square feet, which is 35% smaller than in case of condos built in the 80s and 33% smaller than in 90s.

The reducing size of condominiums, which are often located in urban areas, could reflect the change in urban demographic tendencies. In 2016, we’ve seen one-person households becoming the most common type for the first time in Canada.

It has never happened before, as this category with its 28.2% of all households outpaced even couples with kids.

The size of a Canadian household has been decreasing during a century already, with the average household including 5.6 people in 1871 and only 2.4 in 2016. This change could be explained by fewer children in families and more one-person households.

However, could condo sizes be any smaller? In fact, some cities have already faced it. According to Marc Vachon from the Canadian Journal of Urban Research, there is a new condo type called a micro condo. Its size may vary from 290 and 495 square feet. For example, in San Francisco, a unit can be even smaller – only 220 sq. ft., with 70 sq. ft. occupied by bathroom and a kitchen.

In case of such small sizes, there just have to be some compensations, as such condos often don’t even have a laundry machine or an oven. In downtown Toronto, new condos contain 162 units with 480 square feet each, and they have convection microwaves instead of traditional ovens.

That’s quite understandable, as with today’s life styles who has the time for cooking in the oven? So the lack of ovens is just a payment for cheaper rents and lower costs.

Nevertheless, smaller household sizes can’t explain the growing size of single-detached houses. According to Statistics Canada, with 2,380 square feet of an average above-grade living area the single-detached houses built in 2016-2017 in Ontario were 30% bigger than the properties built in 80s or 90s. Moreover, the new houses are even twice larger than the properties of the 60s or of an earlier period when the household sizes were much bigger.

Actually, detached houses are even larger these days, as the calculations didn’t include below-grade living areas. Repaired basements provide additional living area in the form of kids play areas, parents mini-movie theatres or guest rooms.

The suburb location of detached houses with cheaper land could partially explain why this type of real estate has increased in size. In case of Toronto, the single-detached homes accounted for only 5% of all starts last year, while in the rest of the GTA it was 30%.

The rising size of the new detached houses also shows the change in suburban lifestyles with staycations, computer games, barbecues and binge-watching making people spend more time at home than earlier.

It looks like the future of Canadian real estate will develop in two extremes: smaller households will choose decreasing condos and growing families will prefer larger homes far from the city core.

It may be the reason for builders to provide more housing options in the future accounting for smaller households.

 

 

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