Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fairness Prevails - New Condo at Yonge and Bloor creates some chaos

Line dwellers get to go home as condo sales start

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail November 14, 2007 at 3:37 AM EST

A group of mostly young people who spent more than a week standing in line outside Toronto's most hyped real estate project finally got to go home yesterday, handing their place in line over to a phalanx of high-powered real estate agents and investors.

Units at the One Bloor Street luxury condo officially went on sale yesterday, with hundreds clamouring to purchase condos that are expected to fetch up to $8-million.

Since Monday of last week, some real estate companies had paid people thousands of dollars to stand in line outside the sales centre on their behalf, creating a mini-slum of sleeping bags, umbrellas and take-out containers.

For most of the past week, the paid line dwellers used a list to mark who held what spot in line, but the whole system descended into a shouting match yesterday morning when two real estate agents decided to simply walk up to the front of the line, ignoring the masses behind them.

"Two agents from Milborne Real Estate tried to jump the line," said Elliot Rudner, a 24-year-old who made about $2,000 for lining up. "They believed the list had no authority."

About half a dozen police officers were on hand to keep the scene from turning chaotic, but things calmed down after the builder, Bazis International, decided to honour the list.

Over the course of the morning, the line-up dress code shifted from jeans and scarves to silk ties and dress shirts, as real estate agents took over from their surrogates.

In all, more than 200 numbers were handed out to the madding crowd lining the pavement outside the luxury condo's sales office at Yonge and Bloor. Each number went to a real estate agent required to requeue later yesterday evening, with Bazis staff accepting offers straight through the night.

The developer expects to quickly sell out of lower-priced units, which start at the $300,000-plus level for a 550-square-foot one bedroom.

The highest priced units are penthouses of more than 3,000 square feet, most of which are in the $8-million-plus price range.

In the case of One Bloor, many committed and potential buyers are likely investors from other countries, said a real estate professional who asked not to be named.

"They are looking for a good safe investment in a good safe country ... and this is one of the best-known corners in Toronto, right at the edge of Yorkville," he said.

These are strong selling points for speculative buyers who may be inclined to sell their units well before they are completed in 2011 if they appreciate enough in price, the real estate professional said.

While the development is a positive for the city, the hype that's been stoked by the clamouring lineup of real estate agents is over the top, he said.

"Frankly, I'm embarrassed by what's going on here," he said.

NB: Apparently prices were increased after the first hour of sales, the builder increased the price about 30% across the board, so a $300k condo went up to $420k in one hour, lucky to those first in line!

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