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TRREB’s polling of home-buying intentions, meanwhile, revealed that about three-quarters of respondents “wanted to buy some sort of ground-oriented home,” says chief market analyst Jason Mercer. “A lot of people initially said they want to buy a detached house, but in a lot of cases these buyers looked in the detached market and found that it didn’t meet with their budget.”
Townhomes, in turn, “are becoming an increasingly important part of the mix,” Mercer says. “We’ve been talking a lot about a greater diversity of supply being required in the GTA, especially of the sort that bridges the gap between condos and detached homes. Townhomes are filling that void.”
Since COVID-19 struck, Tom Storey of Royal Lepage Signature Realty in Toronto has been receiving the same message. Because public diversions are largely shut down and working from home has become the norm, townhomes, he says, “play into the pandemic shift we are seeing. People want more space, especially multi-storey and outdoor space, and are more willing to live further from downtown.”
Combined with enduring affordability issues, these preferences are fuelling new municipal efforts to relax zoning by-laws across Toronto’s so-called Yellow Belt, the vast suburban swath that runs through Etobicoke, North Toronto, East York and Scarborough. Exclusively zoned for detached housing, the Yellow Belt is the target of a new City of Toronto initiative called Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods, which aims to bring more of the low-rise, “missing middle” housing forms like townhomes to residential neighbourhoods.