Reviews and recommendations are unbiased and products are independently selected. Postmedia may earn an affiliate commission from purchases made through links on this page.
A most unusual parcel of land for sale on a busy Toronto avenue is putting to the test the question of whether land has intrinsic value, regardless of its utility.
For sale is 1060 Danforth Ave., an address sandwiched between a church and a medical office about a half-block away from the Donlands subway station. Listed for $49,999, the price is a relative bargain for the Danforth, given the rapid rise in land prices in Toronto. But there is a catch: It is105 feet deep – but less than a foot wide.
“We didn’t list it as a joke,” said Anthony De Cesare of Royal LePage Maximum Realty. “I thought someone would want it.”
Mr. De Cesare met his client, Carlo Scarcello, at the corner store and deli in Woodbridge that Mr. Scarcello runs (he recommends the prosciutto and provolone sandwich) and agreed to help sell his house. But Mr. Scarcello also asked Mr. De Cesare to look into selling this little chunk of Danforth that he also owned. “I put it on MLS and I got so many calls from people,” he said, at least until they found out how wide it was.
Property records help fill in some details about how the strip of land came to be: In 1975, Ruby Gilbert was executing the last will and testament of her late father, Charles Gilbert, who had transferred to his estate a strip of the parcel that is a little more than eight inches wide at the southern half of the property, and then widens a bit as it travels the 105 feet to its northern boundary to a princely 15½ inches. The land extends partway under the wall of the building at 1066 Danforth Ave. (a pharmacy and medical centre), and allows for the shared use of it, such as it is. In 1977, Ms. Gilbert granted the land to her friend Gordon Davidson for $2.00, with the following explanation: “The land has very little value, and as the grantor has no use for it and is a good friend of the grantee, she wishes to transfer the land to the grantee for nominal consideration.”
The records show that 30 years later, Mr. Davidson fell into property tax arrears (the annual property tax bill is about $69 now) and the property was auctioned off by the city and was purchased by Mr. Scarcello in 2013 for $5,065.
“You know what, at this price, I couldn’t afford to resist it,” Mr. Scarcello said. “I always had issues with money my whole life, but I wanted to build myself up to not be always struggling. To me, it was like my chance to buy a piece of land. I figured only land would help me build myself up.”
In a way, the fact of land ownership was more valuable to Mr. Scarcello than any practical use of that land. “Land is about the only thing that can’t fly away. … It gives position and influence and political power,” or at least that’s the view of the landed gentry in Victorian-era England as imagined by Anthony Trollope’s 1867 novel The Last Chronicle of Barset.
“My friends had a lot of laughs with it,” Mr. Scarcello said. “I tell them I own a piece of land; they joke you have to turn sideways to get on it!”
Mr. Scacello said he’s had many ideas of what to do with the sliver of land, everything from planting sunflowers (a passion of his) to maybe renting it out for a billboard. “I was thinking of putting a mailbox on there, maybe anybody overseas could want a Canadian address.” Other than waging a futile battle to keep it graffiti-free he has never managed to improve the land.
On the other hand, it’s possible he could earn a return just by virtue of the passage of time.
According to real estate data experts Altus Group, the cost of residential development land in Toronto has soared 567 per cent since the year 2000. According to Ray Wong, vice-pPresident of Data Operations at Altus Group, the year-to-year data are a little lumpy because the price per acre tends to ebb and flow based on what kind of land sells, but the trend is still way up. Consider that even just in 2010 the price per acre of development land in Toronto was $2.4-million and it is topping $6.9-million an acre in 2021. One factor driving prices recently is scarcity: There are fewer sites and smaller ones hitting the market in the past two years. Between the third quarter of 2020 and the third quarter of 2021, Mr. Wong said development land prices more than doubled. “I was a little bit taken aback by the increases,” he said. “I’m not surprised, but I was little taken aback. That’s better than the stock market!”
Mr. De Cesare hopes someone might purchase this slice of Toronto in order to do a new development. There’s a mid-rise condo project under way just a few addresses west, so it is not entirely impossible. But anyone hoping to squat on the land should be prepared to wait for a payoff, according to experts.
“If you look at land, everything’s been inflated, [Mr. Scarcello’s price is] not out of whack, but it could be sitting there for a long time,” said Ari Silverberg, president of Harbour Equity. Mr. Silverberg does land assembly acquisitions to create developable lands in the GTA, and he’s not sure Mr. Scarcello will get many multiples (let alone 10 times) on his original purchase of such a narrow strip of land. “I truthfully haven’t run into that before; $5,000-$10,000 sounds like the right number. I don’t know that someone bucks up and pays $50,000. If they really wanted to make money, get the two guys beside them together and package it. At that point, paying an extra $50,000 or $100,000 probably doesn’t matter.”
Your house is your most valuable asset. We have a weekly Real Estate newsletter to help you stay on top of news on the housing market, mortgages, the latest closings and more. Sign up today.
Canada’s Real Estate Bubble Is So Big Even The Mother of All Crashes Can’t Fix It – Better Dwelling
Lack of listings pushes Alberta real estate into a sellers' market – Calgary Herald
Amid the success of the real estate market is a sore spot that could drive up prices more than expected, and that’s low inventory in the coming year, according to one national realty firm.
While the pinch of low supply is most acute in larger centres like Toronto and Vancouver, Alberta is also “feeling the inventory pinch,” says Rachel Rehkopf, spokesperson for Zoocasa Realty Inc. in Toronto.
She points to December total sales rising by 27 per cent in Alberta while new listings remained stagnant.
That “pushed the entire province into sellers’ market conditions.”
The province sits at 2.5 months of residential inventory. That essentially means if no new homes came to market over the next two and a half months, and current demand for housing continues, Alberta would have no more homes for sale.
It’s a scenario that’s unlikely to happen, of course, and the overall supply-demand picture is better in Alberta than other parts of the country, she adds.
In Ontario, for example, supply is 0.6 months while the metric is 1.7 months in British Columbia.
Yet Alberta’s supply is significantly lower than last year when it had four months of supply, she says.
Calgary is the tighter of the two large markets in the province with only 1.5 months of supply, while Edmonton actually added new listings in December, growing by about 10 per cent, year over year. Still, sales in Edmonton outpaced new listings, resulting in a 14 per cent decrease in inventory.
Overall, high demand in both cities paired with continuing low supply will likely drive prices higher in the year ahead, she notes.
Welcome to Real Estate Friday! – theberkshireedge.com
Here’s what we have for you this week in The Edge Real Estate section:
- Property of the Week – Janet Kain of TKG Real Estate offers the opportunity to live in a stunning home, lovingly cared for and perfectly located for year-round enjoyment of the Berkshires.
- Transformations – Designer Jennifer Owen and her clients imagined a calming space to relax while listening to the Boston Symphony Orchestra Live from Tanglewood on the radio!
- Weekly real estate transactions for Berkshire County, Northern Litchfield County and, now, Columbia County
- Market Perspective – Updated this week: The 2021 year-end real estate report from the Berkshire Board of REALTORS. What does it tell us?
- The Self-Taught Gardener – How does Joan Didion’s approach to life and to her art inform our Self-Taught Gardener on how to garden?
- Gardener’s Checklist – The holidays are over and the winter doldrums have set in. What’s a gardener to do to lift his spirits in these dark days?
COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, Jan. 21: weekly recap, 94 hospitalized, 601 new cases – Halifax Examiner
22 things you need to know about B.C. business and the economy in 2022 – BCBusiness
Sask. RCMP issue Canada-wide warrant for anti-vaccine dad charged with abducting daughter, 7 – CBC.ca
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Health4 hours ago
FDA expands use of remdesivir to patients with high risk of hospitalization
News19 hours ago
Blend of optimism and caution highlights Canada's COVID-19 forecast – CTV News
Economy12 hours ago
Launching Zero Waste Economic Transformation Lab – guelph.ca
Business16 hours ago
Canada Dec retail sales seen down as COVID restrictions bite
Sports17 hours ago
Canadiens' Allen to miss eight weeks with lower-body injury – TSN
News16 hours ago
Canada to offer Ukraine a loan, seeks other ways to help Kyiv deal with Russia
News16 hours ago
Haiti’s allies need to help tackle spike in violence -Canada PM Trudeau
Tech21 hours ago
Xbox boss wants to revive old Activision Blizzard games – Rock Paper Shotgun