Real estate prices in the GTA are rising higher all the time, with the average detached home price recently crossing the $1 million mark, and average condo prices now sitting at $369,655 in Toronto and $355,623 in suburban GTA areas. When you factor in the increase in maintenance fees at 3.4 percent per year over the last decade, rental housing has become an increasingly attractive option for those looking to make a move without breaking the bank.

Toronto skyline, image by Oscar Flores

In recent months, we have witnessed an increasing number of purpose-built rental developments being announced, many of which are designed with condominium-style amenities and other premium features to tempt potential residents. The condo lifestyle being offered on a rental budget is one of the many factors keeping rental demand high in the region.

One of the major developers bringing new rental housing to the GTA is Vancouver-based Concert Properties, who have been building rental and for-market residential developments since their founding in 1989. Concert has already added a handful of new high-rise rental properties to Toronto's rental landscape, including projects like Motion on Bay Street, One32 in Corktown, and Prelude near Yonge and Sheppard in North York.

Motion on Bay Street provides a good example of the type of amenities being offered in new purpose-built rental developments, including bike parking, a board room, in-suite laundry, common patios and terraces with barbecues, a library, a party room, a theatre and resident lounge. These types of amenity offerings are much more typical of condominium developments, though they are being included in rental developments in increasing numbers, as more and more people enter the rental market.

Motion on Bay Street, image courtesy of Concert Properties

In addition to the amenity offerings included in Concert's rental developments, the developer also offers a maintenance service available 24-7, and a referral program where existing Concert tenants are entitled to benefits when a friend rents another Concert rental unit. Concert rental developments also offer environmental measures like motion controlled lighting, green roofs, and extensive recycling programs.

There are many other notable rental developments around the region in various stages of the planning and development process.

Last week, Westbank Corp's announcement of a large-scale rental development to be built at the site of Honest Ed's serves as proof that the rental market is not just becoming an attractive option for residents, but developers too, and it signals a move toward holistic planning of an entire community where possible.

Rendering of the Bloor and Bathurst rental development, image courtesy of Westbank

The demand for rental housing is being felt beyond downtown, and even neighbourhoods like Forest Hill that would otherwise be out of the reach of the average person are seeing new rental properties come online, in this instance most notably at Morguard's two tower The Heathview.

Rendering of The Heathview rental development, image courtesy of Westbank

As the building boom continues to drive up real estate values, we can look forward to more rental developments springing up around the region, giving renters the chance to enjoy the condo lifestyle without having to make up a downpayment for a major long-term investment.

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