If you’ve ever visited the Toronto Islands and immediately pictured yourself ditching downtown to buy a home there and wake up to the sunrise over the beach every morning, you’re not alone. But unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
Buying a home on the Toronto Islands requires a lot of patience, and an understanding that in all likelihood, it’s probably not going to happen for you.
Home sales on the Islands are tightly regulated by the Toronto Islands Residential Community Trust Corporation, which has had stewardship of the homes on Ward’s and Algonquin Islands since 1993. After assuming control, the trust quickly established a Purchasers’ List — a waiting list of people wanting to buy homes on the island.
The list is limited to just 500 names, and it’s currently full. If space opens up on the list, new names are added to the end of it through a lottery draw, in which you can apply to be included. A non-refundable fee of $20 is required to apply to get on the list, and it’s an additional $45 per year to keep your name on the list.
Since the list was established 27 years ago, only 70 of the island’s roughly 260 homes have been sold, which averages out to less than three sales per year. And it seems those sales may have slowed down, as the Trust’s website says that the average now is just one to two sales per year.
When a home does come up for sale, the Trust usually send offers to the first 150 or 250 people on the list, but a buyer is generally found within the first 100 names, according to the Trust’s website.
And if you just so happen to be one of the lucky few who get chosen to buy a home here, it’s going to cost you. Each house purchase comes with a one-time lease payment, which is typically around $60,000 on Ward’s Island and $76,000 on Algonquin Island. And if you’re thinking you can just recoup all of that money when you sell the house, you might want to think again.
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Sale prices are limited by the Trust and are established through a “regulated appraisal and inspection process,” the Trust’s website says, and are “based solely on the construction costs of the building.” The size of the lot and where it is aren’t even factored in. Houses here can range anywhere from $50,000 to $700,000, but average out to around $150,000 to $400,000. These prices are separate from the lease payment.
Island homeowners are also required to live there full-time — it can’t just be a summer home or a rental property.
But if all of that still has you wanting to shoot your shot at owning an Island property, you’ll want to stay tuned to the Trust’s website to see when the next lottery opens up.