Luxury buyers like to live large, literally. More and more of them are craving square footage when they purchase a condo.
The coronavirus pandemic, which has caused people to work and spend more time at home, may have accelerated the search for space but it can’t be exclusively credited for it. Empty nesters trading in houses for condo life have been reluctant to give up the room to roam they enjoyed in their previous abodes.
There are plenty of realtors and developers eager to accommodate them. Large spaces are available and, even if they aren’t in original plans, developers can customize units to make sure clients get what they want. Sizes offered can range from 2,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet.
Menkes Developments Ltd.’s spacious 77 Clarendon, Armour Heights Developments’ elegant 89 Avenue Road and Canderel’s upscale Bayview at the Village at 625 Sheppard Ave. E. and 900 St. Clair are among the spots welcoming people on the move.
Janice Fox, broker of record for Hazelton Real Estate Inc., which is marketing Menkes’ 77 Clarendon project, says buyers are usually coming from large homes and don’t want to part with possessions such as big furniture and pieces of art.
Many of her clients want plenty of room to eventually entertain, although not necessarily formally. They want their family to be able to come for the holidays and have a big enough dining room where they can stretch out their table easily.
“I think it’s a lifestyle choice,” Fox says. “They want the convenience of a condo but they don’t want to lose some aspects of their lifestyle in terms of grand-sized rooms.”
She says one of the pluses with Menkes’ 77 Clarendon project is how open the five-storey boutique location is to all kinds of customization.
Big kitchens are always popular but there’s a mix in demand between open and closed kitchens, Fox says. Open concepts work well when a couple has young children that need watching, but closed kitchens have value when privacy and quiet in other rooms are important. The ability to have both is also trending, through the use of pocket doors or sliding panels, she says.
“There are people who, depending on what kinds of food they cook, are very concerned about frying and smells and want a kitchen that they definitely can close off for that,” Fox says.
“And then there are people who have catering. When your caterer comes, they like to be able to have the caterer in the kitchen doing the prep and close off the kitchen and not have their guests part of that experience.”
Fox notes that if a suite is on the smaller side, an open kitchen is usually preferred because it gives the home a larger, airier feel.
In addition to sizable kitchens and dining rooms, some clients are asking for space for caregivers.
“They wanted to have a separate caregiver suite that was incorporated into their condominium,” says Andy Yu, vice-president of sales at RAD Marketing, of one client of Canderel’s 900 St. Clair project.
“So there’s self-sufficient living quarters on one side of the condo that is separate with a door but also the separate kitchen and sleeping area that has a separate entrance as well,” Yu says.
Home gyms are also popular as are offices that can be closed off for privacy and take the work space away from a corner of the kitchen or dining room table. Theatre rooms are also in demand.
Unique touches such as walk-in closets where bikes can be stored, refrigerated pantries, bars in master bedrooms and recessed bathtubs for washing the family dog are also among requests developers are getting.
Frank Mazzotta, president of Armour Heights Developments, said while some clients have asked for two kitchens, some have surprisingly said they don’t want any kitchens in their suite.
“We had to convince them to put a kitchen in it,” he recalls, saying the client said they always ate out in restaurants and wouldn’t need it. “I said, ‘OK, what do you do when you go for resale?’ “
That kind of gentle but sage advice is key with Mazzotta, whose firm has been custom crafting homes and condos for more than 30 years.
“We take pride and we’re passionate in every project,” he says. “We really consider ourselves true artisan builders. We design and customize to give our clients their dream homes, separating us completely from your everyday production builders.”
Mazzotta says the upscale Yorkville neighbourhood where his 89 Avenue Road is located is also a draw, comparing it to New York’s tony Upper East Side.
“We are getting a lot of international calls right now, from Florida, some from Korea, some from Singapore, so we are getting quite a few people that do want to come in,” he says of the project, which is being promoted as “tailored elegance.”
Fox doesn’t expect interest in larger spaces to slow any time soon. She says that, even though the world is in the grips of a pandemic, people are planning accordingly as they detect a light at the end of the tunnel with the arrival of vaccines. She says the beauty of buying in a pre-construction project is not only that purchasers can customize their suite but they have some control over timing.
“You know that it will be finished in two years or two-and-a-half years and you can plan accordingly,” Fox says.
“So, in the middle of a pandemic, that’s a good thing. People know by the time this is finished they’ll be very comfortable about moving and feel that they know what direction the world is going in.”