Michael Deming

Christmas in Toronto brings with it joy, fellowship and glad tidings. Unfortunately, it also brings with it the unavoidable client holiday parties. From late November through late December, clients and colleagues try and outdo each other with warm hors d’oeuvres, cold cocktails, and a cool DJ spinning the latest from Drake, in an office environment transformed by the miracle of tinsel and dim lighting.

Stiff and formal (before the second round of drinks), if you stay long enough “Dave from accounting” or “Angela from marketing” are certain to let you in on a couple of secrets. By your third cosmo, you’re sure to learn the information you need to know about the company you work for, or with.

The same was true for me this year.

As I moved from parties with condo developers to parties with condo brokers to parties with condo marketing agencies this year — yes, it’s a pretty glamorous life I’m leading — there was some consistent, alcohol-induced chatter among this group of veteran condo insiders.

The topics — uninterrupted and insatiable market demand, the trajectory of condo prices in Toronto, and the mythical $1,000 per square foot benchmark.

While the quality of the wine and premium booze served at these parties seemed to validate the belief that the Toronto condo market had a very good year, partygoers were confident that when companies like Urbanation release their year-end analysis and review of 2016 in late January, the empirical data would likely show exceptional sales numbers, high absorption levels for new launches, a decline in unsold inventory, and a slightly higher number of new condo launches this year over last year.

Analysis of 2016 may also point to a rise in average prices across the GTA, a perception that had condo insiders’ tongues wagging this year at parties from King Street to King City.

While it wasn’t too long ago that a Yonge Street launch from a veteran developer was the talk of the town as it surpassed the $700 per square foot threshold, this year’s conversations were dominated by the talk of projects in the downtown core pushing towards a rumoured $900 per square foot, while there were rumblings that some developers were getting over $1,000 for select suites along Toronto’s most famous — and clearly most desirable — street.

$1,000 per square foot, on Yonge Street! That’s crazy.

Or is it?

With rising land values, government growth policies squeezing supply and increasing demand, record-low interest rates, a stable national economy, rising immigration levels, spectacular architecture, world-class design, smart layouts that make small spaces more livable, and the strength of both the resale and rental markets, should we really be surprised by the continued success of Toronto’s condo market, and the symbiotic rise in prices? Or be surprised that now may be the best time to buy a condo?

Probably not.

Any first year biz school student will tell you, the market will charge only what the market can bear.

So, while prices will likely continue to rise and give us lots to talk about at holiday parties, and on real estate sites like this one, I’m left to believe that the price we’re paying to create a generation of new home buyers, internationally celebrated architecture and design, and gentrifying new neighbourhoods throughout the city, has been worth it.

But will it always be so?