<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=2829346267291545&ev=PageView &noscript=1"/> The Matt & Ben Bang for the Buck Technique - The Matt and Ben Toronto Real Estate Team
The Matt and Ben Toronto Real Estate Team

The Matt & Ben Bang for the Buck Technique

29 March 2018

The Matt and Ben “Bang for the Buck” Technique

By Matt Casselman

Have you ever wondered how to enter the Toronto real estate market and buy a home that would be large enough to fit a family right in the downtown core on a limited budget? I want to show you the Matt & Ben “Bang for the Buck” Technique which can make this a reality.

This is a strategy for our fellow Torontonians that are doing great but are not completely flush with cash. Of course if you are one of the one-percenters out there we have a plethora of shinny goodies that we would be happy to share with you as well.

Everyone is familiar with the alarming increase in the unaffordability of homes in Toronto.

We all want a home with enough space to contain our lives, to entertain family and friends, and possibly to raise children or a pet. The compromises with space that we have to make are getting more and more challenging as real estate prices continue to rise.

The key lies in hidden gems across the city; condominiums in older buildings.

I know what you’re thinking. The quality of those homes can’t compare to new buildings. The condo fees are too high. The styles are out-of-date.

Allow me to clarify some misconceptions.

We are going to take an example of a recent condo bought by a Matt & Ben client in the St. Lawrence Market area.

The Condo

2 bedrooms


8th floor

Southwest view

Basically unrenovated

This home was purchased for $557,000 (which was just slightly under the asking price) with no competition.

Having a look through the photos it is clear that the typical condo buyer looking for a 1,100sq.ft home would consider this condo below grade. Let’s see if our Team can convince you otherwise…

The Price for Space

Pre-construction condominiums are currently trading for, on average, $1000 per square foot. Which means you are paying $500,000 for a 500 square foot home and $1,100,000 for an 1100 square foot home.

Older condominium buildings trade closer to $500 per square foot. Which means (on average) for $550,000 you can get 1,100 square feet of space.

That is half the price for the same amount of living space.


Maintain Huge Savings and Get the Quality You Are Looking For

Renovations can be very expensive but they can also be done on the cheap without foregoing quality. A great salt-of-the-earth interior designer can help guide you to the right choices. Of course we can’t give away all of our tricks of the trade in this article but we refer our team of construction & design professionals to our clients exclusively.

With our test case renovation our client spent $40,000. Have a look at what was accomplished:

For this amount our client changed flooring, added pot lights, completely renovated the washrooms, moved a wall, painted, strategically updated the kitchen and as a result created an incredibly modern space with square footage that would cost double in neighbouring buildings.

Here are the numbers:

Purchase price: $557,000

Renovations: $40,000

Land transfer tax: $15,230

Total: $612,230

Wouldn’t you buy this 1,100sq.ft unit for $612,230?


The Maintenance Fee Myth

One thing most homeowners have trouble digesting are maintenance fees. Let me break this down for you. Every home has maintenance and maintenance is expensive. Take a typical house. If you are maintaining it and improving elements of it on an annual basis you will certainly drop a few thousand dollars a year to keep it in pristine condition. Whether it is the roof, landscaping, shoveling,  electrical, plumbing, windows, the driveway, garage, the list goes on and on. With a condo you are only responsible for the interior envelope of the space. The rest is taken care of. You can see how there are massive cost savings when living in a condo.

In our test case the maintenance fees for the unit are $1096. This number can be off-putting but let’s dig a little deeper.

The maintenance fees include parking, two lockers, all hydro (which is typical in older buildings), water, heat (gas), garbage removal and amenities.

Typically, for a new condo of this size you would be paying approximately 60 cents per square foot in maintenance fees. This comes out to $660 monthly for a 1,100sq.ft space. In newer buildings hydro is not included in your utilities and sometimes neither are gas and water. The numbers vary but you can count on an extra $250 monthly in utility fees. With maintenance fees and utilities combined you would be paying $910 monthly.

This is a difference in monthly fees between an old building and a new building of only $186 monthly.

If you purchased a $1,100,000 condo vs a $600,000 condo (rounded up from our $557,000 purchase price + $40,000 in renovations) you would be borrowing 500,000 more dollars. At current lending rates of 3.44% on a 3 year fixed rate mortgage- this will cost you $513.11 per month per $100,000. This is a total difference of $2565.55 per month.

In comparison that extra $186 in maintenance fees does not seem so steep when looking at the cost of borrowing significant amounts of money.

It’s clear that you don’t have to be a millionaire to live downtown in a beautiful home!

If you are interested in learning about real estate, have some savings, a decent income, you pay your taxes on time but are somewhat lost with this article- let’s set up a meeting. I will show you how to get the best value for your money- it will be fun!


Property taxes are based on the value of your home. At $1,100,000 you are paying $7,278 annually in property taxes.

At $557,000 you are paying $3685 annually once phased in over 6 years and in our condo scenario the current property taxes are $2550.

Even at the phased-in annual taxes of $3685 (that would take full effect in six years’ time) the difference between the property taxes alone is $298.92 monthly – which means if you opt-in for our technique you are saving over $100 a month in tax after the supposed higher monthly fees.  

With The Matt & Ben “Bang for the Buck” Technique you are getting the same square footage at half the price and half the taxes.















The Future

In recent years the biggest upswing percentage-wise with the condo market has been with two bedroom units as developers city-wide have been pumping out 1 bedroom floor plans as easy investment opportunities for landlords. The truth of the matter is there is an extreme shortage of larger units in Toronto. I personally predict that upward pricing on older buildings is on the cusp of exploding purely for livability factors. With homes in the core starting at $1,000,000 and going way up from there these older gems will surely become more desirable and expensive quickly.

Please note some older buildings are duds and should be avoided at all costs. It takes an experienced realtor with an intimate knowledge of the city to guide you properly. It also takes a realtor who is not just looking for a quick deal from their clients (which we sympathize with because it’s a tough business but clients need agents who are working towards their client’s best interest).

Want to learn more?

Whether you are living in one of these buildings or are interested in hearing about the absolute best of the grand old dames in the city we would love to represent you. We have our hand on the pulse of Toronto’s real estate market.

If you would like to work with a sophisticated agent or would just like to learn about a real estate I would love to talk to you.

If you are not currently not under contract with a realtor feel free to email me at matt@mattandben.ca to set up a no obligation, friendly meeting.

Matt Casselman

Note there may be some minor variances to square footage and square footage pricing. We rounded some numbers for purposes of simplicity and explanation.

Any objection or online debate to my article will not be responded to as I am just way too busy.