A condo in downtown Toronto for less than $500,000? Here’s a spot on Queen West if you can deal with past developer bankruptcy woes

#GTAHomeHunt is a new weekly series from the Star that gets into the details of real estate listings in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. Have a tip? Email us at social@torstar.ca

Price: $ 499,000

Neighbourhood: West Queen West

X factor: The price is great and right in the heart of West Queen West, minutes away from the Drake Hotel and a 10-minute walk from Liberty Village. It’s the spot if you’re looking to be close to the downtown core, but not too close.

On this week’s #GTAHomeHunt, we look at a condo straddling the Little Portugal and Liberty Village neighbourhoods that could potentially go for under $ 500,000. This one plus one bedroom, one bathroom, home office space and balcony is about 585-square-feet.

It also includes sliding doors to the master bedroom, a double closet, an upgraded kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite counters.

If you’re a first-time buyer, you might be wondering, is this a good deal? We brought in our expert, real estate agent Othneil Litchmore, to gain a better understanding of why this property costs what it does and what he thinks it’ll sell for.

Why is it priced this way: The condo at 68 Abell St. overlooking a concrete park is strategically priced under $ 500,000 because many current buyers and renters are seeking places that are either below the $ 500,000 mark or close to it in downtown Toronto and the GTA.

As Litchmore points out, other similar units in the building have sold for less than $ 500,000. This unit is also relatively cheap due to no parking and the small downtown-size of the apartment. The price also reflects the business of the area, which often faces crowding and long TTC streetcar or shuttle bus wait times.

“The congestion in the neighbourhood might be too much for a lot of people. If you can look past those things, you can get a great deal,” said Litchmore. “If you can sacrifice the commute a little bit, buy a bike and you’ll be straight.”

The unit is estimated to go for about $ 550,000, but Litchmore says it could be negotiated down and will likely go for the current listed price due to past issues with the building developers — Urbancorp — which filed for bankruptcy in 2016.

“You can get a deal here because the pool of buyers is smaller and due to previous issues with the building developers,” said Litchmore. “Buildings can turn themselves around. The fact that the condo fees here are $ 408 (for maintenance), tells me that it’s not a structural issue.”

Renting the place costs about $ 1,900 a month compared to buying the place and putting a minimum of 20 per cent mortgage down that’ll cost about $ 2,200 instead. The mortgage would cover taxes, maintenance fees and your utilities.

Litchmore says this place would be a great entry point into the housing market and an investment for a young person if they decide to buy it now and sell in the future — understanding how difficult it is could be for young buyers to put down a 20 per cent mortgage.

The issue with renting is you’re not building any equity and your landlord could sell the place and force you to move, he says. If you decide to rent, Litchmore thinks that’s still a great deal as the area is also filled with tons of renters.

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Tips to finding a place like this: In terms of lucking out at a condo in downtown Toronto for around $ 500,000, Litchmore says you might have to settle for a place that has building developer issues.

Other condos in the area that are also going for under $ 500,000 include 36 Lisgar Street, which is also owned by Urbancorp. In the past, there have been issues of safety in the neighbourhood as the building developers have had lawsuits filed against them over the cancellation of an arts hub.

Litchmore advises people to do their own research as the stigma surrounding some condos may not be an issue still today.

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