In real estate, older doesn’t always mean less valuable. Especially in Toronto.
As a historic, centuries-old city, Toronto retains a great collection of beautiful heritage homes. Spanning a vast range of architectural styles, ages, and aesthetics, these homes paint a charming picture of our past.
Of course, heritage homes aren’t just valuable from a cultural perspective. They’re also incredibly sought-after pieces of real estate. Both a great place to call home and a high-equity investment, older properties in Toronto can hold and appreciate in market value quite well.
That said, heritage homes may also carry certain restrictions. Under municipal and provincial law, certain homes and neighbourhoods may hold unique statuses that could impact their use, modification, and sale. Therefore, both buyers and sellers in Toronto’s historic core should be aware of the specialized nature of heritage homes.
What is the Toronto Heritage Register?
The Toronto Heritage Register (THR) is a city initiative dedicated to protecting and preserving historic properties with significant cultural value. In addition to non-residential buildings and landmarks, the THR also includes a large number of homes – particularly in Toronto’s core neighbourhoods.
As part of the Heritage Register, homes can fall under one of two categories: listed, or designated. When a property is listed it essentially means that it is under consideration for receiving a designation. Once a home is listed it is subject to some low-level restrictions. However, the rules and protections applied to a property will become much more strict once it reaches designated status.
The city is not legally required to inform or seek permission from property owners before listing a home on the register. However, owners are usually invited to a board meeting if their property is up for review.
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Identifying Impacted Properties
In Toronto, both individual properties and entire neighbourhoods can be recognized with the Heritage Register. In the instance of neighbourhoods, areas identified as Heritage Conservation Districts (HCDs) are used as a planning tool by the city to help preserve Toronto’s social, cultural and architectural history where possible. However, just because a home exists within an HCD, it doesn’t necessarily mean the property itself is listed or designated on the THR.
So how can you tell if your home or a home you’re interested in buying is included in the Heritage Register? Use the city’s Property Search Tool.
Considerations for Home Buyers
If you’re considering buying a Toronto home that’s included on the Heritage Register, there are a few things you will want to know in advance. Depending on which status the property holds, i.e. designated or listed, you may face certain restrictions as to how you can use, renovate, or modify the property down the line. These rules will mainly impact the exterior of the property, however, there will be implications that limit indoor upgrades as well.
In addition to end users, restrictions on designated properties may also affect investors who are looking for a home they can convert into rental units. Like any home purchase, your real estate agent can help you identify any factors that may impact your intended use of the property.
Although there will be red tape, many renovations are still completely acceptable under listing or designation. In fact, owners of heritage homes in Toronto may even be eligible for certain tax rebates and grants to assist with the costs of maintaining and preserving the property.
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Selling a Heritage Home
While sellers of heritage homes typically have fewer long-term implications to consider compared with buyers, your sale could still be impacted in some way if the property is included on the Heritage Register. For instance, it may limit your ability to make strategic upgrades to the property before listing.
The best way to optimize the sale of your heritage home is by working with a real estate agent who has specific experience selling them. In Toronto, the demand for heritage homes is high. As a seller, you will want to ensure that you enjoy a profitable, high-return sale. An experienced agent will have the specialized knowledge, insights, and selling strategies to help you do just that.