Kendra FitzRandolph on Millennials & Real Estate

Listen to “Kendra FitzRandolph on Millennials & Real Estate” on Spreaker.

A look at Toronto millennials and real estate.

  • Do they want to purchase a property?
  • How are they using the bank of mom & dad?
  • What does the real estate future look like for millennials?What’s a fauburb?
  • Commentary on Toronto Life’s Young, Rich & Totally Not Buying a House article
  • How is the sharing economy affecting real estate?
DownloadDownload this podcast


Davelle:              On today’s episode, we have Kendra FitzRandolph, manager of special partnerships, NXTCity Prize, who’s going to talk to us a little bit about millennials and real estate. Kendra, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for joining us.

Kendra:               Hi, hi. Thank you for having me.

Davelle:              No problem. So, tell us a little bit about your thoughts on millennials and real estate. How did you get your expertise?

Kendra:               Yes, I guess millennials in real estate … I think they’re the … the world is a different place in terms of what I guess, our parents, thought of in terms of real estate. You go to school, you graduate from school, you thought and so I think it’s far more … we have this idea of a shared relationship, shared lifestyles that we would rather have a high quality lifestyle than maybe more so share our living spaces, our spaces where we keep our things, our personal belongings, and share everything. People are far more happier living in the urban cores with shared community spaces within their buildings and then have a smaller personal space versus the opposite which I think where our parent’s perceptions or just the goals for their life.

Davelle:              Perfect. Do you think we’re going to be headed back to the commune days of the 1960’s? When people ask, “Do you want to live together?”

Kendra:               I think there wouldn’t be enough outlets to put all the iPod and iPhone chargers so I don’t think that would be possible. I do think the idea of shared economy was much more conducive to our lifestyle because we’re able to live much higher quality lifestyles and still survive in these very expensive cities. And live well.

Davelle:              Absolutely. Would you say that you think millennials would be more open to sort of … When you say sharing and ownership I start thinking about, could they share a duplex together where one person lives upstairs and the other person lives downstairs, but they share a house together?

Kendra:               Yes. To be honest I think that’s exactly where it’s going. I think shared ownership might be something down the line that we’re gonna see. Something that I will be looking at definitely in the near future is purchasing a house that is already broken up into shared living spaces that I will maybe live in one, share with the rest, and that half I’d be able to afford the mortgage basically.

Davelle:              Yeah, absolutely. That makes a lot of sense. Now would you say that for your friends who are sort of venturing into home ownership are a lot of them using the bank of mom and dad to help them out?

Kendra:               Yes. I do think it’s funny that I had a very interesting conversation with a number of my friends this past weekend about that and we are far more reliant on our parents. My mom likes to say that the bank of mom is closed, but she’s open every once and a while when necessary. It’s not something she’s … She’s got shortened hours basically. I think that’s a concern and if we want to talk about the various bubbles that are at risk to pop. I think the bank of parents is a big one because our parents are sometimes putting themselves at risk to pay for our wants and needs in living spaces that are shooting up in price and they have yet to pop.

Davelle:              Right, but don’t you think for the majority of parents out there that a lot of them have already paid off their mortgages and have basically … Are living in these expensive homes that they wouldn’t necessarily buy right now either. So that they have a little bit of extra money that they can shift to their kids?

Kendra:               I think the perception is that there’s a lot of parents out there like that. I think in reality it’s really not that case. It’s a far smaller percentage that actually are paid off. I think what’s happening is my generation has friends with parents that do have that luxury and we may not. But our parents want us to be happy and want us to have all we strive for, that better lifestyle that they are then willing to put up that second mortgage or whatnot, take out another loan in order for us to live the lifestyle that we see our friends living.

Davelle:              Right, I guess that is sort of the times. I mean, when I look to more expensive cities … Do you have friends that live sort of the Hong Kong, the San Francisco, the New Yorks of the world? What kinds of things are they doing to get into the market?

Kendra:               Definitely. I mean I have a number of friends in as you said, Hong Kong, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, what-have-you … Thinking of other ones, Tokyo, Vancouver, all these very expensive cities. A lot of them, to be honest, are not investing in enough cities. They’re actually investing in the smaller towns. They’re renting shared spaces. They’re not really thinking that purchasing is an option. More as a priority.

Davelle:              What would you say the millennials of Toronto are thinking? Are some of them still thinking owning or are some of them getting so frustrated that they’re only gonna rent?

Kendra:               I think the majority … I think the ones who have wanted to own have already purchased. They purchased five years ago, seven years ago. I think now for those of us who have yet to are holding off ’til we find a partner in order to share with. Or have come to the realization that we will not own in the city, we probably will own outside of the city. Or we will buy our parent’s houses off of them would be the other option.

Davelle:              Right, got it. Now there was recently an article in Toronto Life where there was a gentleman, I believe he was a pharmacist and he was talking about how he only wants to rent. He just wants to spend his money, he doesn’t want to own anything. What would be your thoughts about that?

Kendra:               Oh, I love Toronto Life magazine. I loved that article. I thought it was very interesting. It’s funny in that it’s very specific … It’s a specific demographic that I think that gentleman fits into. Being that he grew up in north [inaudible 00:06:35] and not in the Downtown Core and when he moved to the Downtown Core he was kind of living that, I call the [inaudible 00:06:42] lifestyle. It’s where you do go out and spend so much money and your priorities are so based on that immediate satisfaction versus the long term gain, or long term thought process. He also grew up, I think they explained it in the article, his parents want him to be at home. They want him to stay at home until he gets married and that’s a very different demographic than what I grew up as and then what my friends have grown up with. So I think the idea that he can purchase tomorrow, but he doesn’t want to because he prefers to go to Ibiza, go to Vegas, and spend 9,000 dollars on a weekend which he did, I think in the article. If I had that opportunity I would be purchasing. I think it’s demographic based. He’s happy to stay at home and his parents are happy to have him at home.

I don’t think you’re gonna find that with the majority of people who grew up in downtown Toronto. Another funny thing my mother has is the, “It’s not a revolving door,” once you’re out, you’re out. You’re on your own, fend for yourself. There’s no comebacks, but I think it’s a different lifestyle. I think we do … This goes back to the idea of a shared economy. For me I mean, I do love to travel, and I love to go out and listen to music, and I would be more inclined to spending more money on a trip versus saving for a mortgage right now. I would not go to the extreme that that gentleman went to, but it’s the idea again of a shared economy. I see myself as enjoying life, but also saving more because I’m sharing it. I use Uber, I use Airbnb, I use Rover, I use … You know you can name off all the amazing new companies that are coming up with all these shared lifestyle best-ofs kind of thing.

Davelle:              Yeah, absolutely for sure. Where would you say some of your friends are going? The ones who have decided to own. What parts of the city are they moving to? Are they suburban, are they urban, what are they doing?

Kendra:               Urban. Definitely urban. They’re all … Yeah, all downtown either urban-urban so that’s King West, Queen West. Or they’re moving into kind of the mini, not so downtown, the “faux-burbs” if you will. The Leslievilles and The Junction and those areas.

Davelle:              Got it. I love that term that you used, “faux-burbs” and that’s to signify like Leslieville and The Junction.

Kendra:               Yeah, I think any person who grew up in Leslieville would not appreciate that. I think they moved to Leslieville from Downtown Core, they’d understand why I call it a faux-burb.

Davelle:              It’s funny. So I live at Yonge and Eglinton and I do have a lot of friends who [inaudible 00:09:28] me and say, “Oh, well you live in the suburbs,” or “You live in cottage country.” And I’m too offended when they say that just because I live north of Bloor Street. I’m like, come on it’s really not that far. I’m still in the city.

Kendra:               Oh, I appreciate their pain. I don’t go north of Dundas. [inaudible 00:09:46] that’s a day trip. I’d pack an overnight bag.

Davelle:              I guess you know what our city’s becoming so also traffic ridden that it has become hard to be mobile, to go to all those other places if you don’t have a car.

Kendra:               No, I agree. I bike everywhere. I do use the TTC, I mean I love it. I know we can gripe about the TTC for another three days I’m sure, but I think the system is … The idea of the system is fantastic and we just need to be patient and the city will get there. Personally, I bike everywhere. I think it’s so wonderful in the morning to be able to bike to work. You get so much more of a feel of the beat of the city. People see you, you see them. It’s just … And to be honest, I do go north of Bloor and I bike there. It takes half the time that it would to drive and almost half the time that it would to … versus the subway.

Davelle:              Interesting. Well, actually not the way I drive in the city. I’ve gotten very good at using a lot of side streets to get around. So I find that’s sort of my trick for getting around the city because I am a driver, but I do like taking the subway. I certainly don’t mind taking the subway when I need to go downtown. I find it very convenient. I don’t love taking the streetcar and the bus. It’s funny, on the biking front, as a driver I kind of go, is the biking safe? There’s just some times when I just kind of go, “Oh my God, I didn’t even see that person.” You know?

Kendra:               You know what, I think it’s a two way thing with biking. So I went to school in Montreal so I also know the bike routes in Montreal fairly well and then I did my grad school in New York so I also know biking in New York as well as Toronto. I find there is an education on both sides and I guess there’s two story [inaudible 00:11:41] two part response. For Toronto, one needs to be very … The biker needs to be very aware that we’re not separated from the street, that we are part of the street. In other cities where they do separate the biker lanes from the car lanes, that is great, but then it has a problem in and of itself because the cars will see the bicyclists as separate so when, it’s a when it’s not an if, when the bicyclists join them at some point the cars like, “Whoa, where did that bike come from?” Versus in Toronto they’re together so for the most part, I find as someone who’s been biking here for almost 20 years I guess, you’re aware. You know that there is a bike lane beside you. If you’re on Richmond, Adelaide, you know the bike lanes are there, but as a bicyclist you need to also be aware that your lane is narrow and you need to stay away from the main path of the road. Because we are all in this together.

There is no way that the car industry is going to end ever. There will always be a need for personal vehicles and I support that, but it’s an education thing where the bicyclist needs to pay attention to the road signs, treat yourself as a real vehicle. Use your stop signs, use your left-hand turns, your right-hand turns. Also for the bicyclists, don’t randomly stop, let the bicyclist in front of you and behind you know that you’re stopping. The same thing goes for cars, they need to be aware of it. You know, if you’re turning right, chances of a bicyclist being beside you, I’d go with 70% so just look. What I dislike about the separated lanes that I know Montreal has is that cars literally forget that bikes are there.

Davelle:              Right. Yeah, it’s tricky. I mean, I’ve been to cities like Amsterdam and I’ve cycled a bike in Amsterdam and it’s much different because in Amsterdam of course, it’s all bikes. There’s very few cars. So cycling in Amsterdam I feel safe, but in the city of Toronto basically I would only … I used to train for triathlons so the only time I would take my bike out is if I could drive way north of the city so I was out in farm land and then I would feel safe.

Kendra:               [inaudible 00:13:52] Yonge and Eglinton.

Davelle:              That was the only time I would feel safe on the bike is if I was in true farm land, not Yonge and Eglinton because I just found all of those cars a little scary. As a driver, one of the things I hate in the city when I see cyclists who have headsets in and I see them texting on their phone and I just think, you know … There’s just got to be some more rules I think to make sure that people don’t engage in silly behavior. Number one, I can’t stand the fact that people don’t wear helmets. Number two, I see them on their phones and listening to headsets and I just think that’s all wrong.

Kendra:               To be honest, I think that that is going to change very quickly. I mean, as someone … So I’ve been biking here since … I’ve been biking in Toronto since I was seven years old and I grew up in The Annex so I’ve always biked downtown obviously when I was a child I would not be biking on College and whatnot, but always understanding that I am not … There are many other things on the road that I need to be aware of. I found in the last three years in particular the number of bikes on the road is just exponentially higher and I do agree with you in terms of the texting, and the ear plugs, and earphones. I feel people often will have the earphones on very, very low for more so radio then anything and [inaudible 00:15:08] someone having the car when their blasting their music. It’s there, they should keep it low enough that they can still hear the activities going around them, but you can enjoy your time when you’re traversing from point A to point B.

It’s funny with the helmets because … I’ve had many arguments with people about this. In places likes Amsterdam you won’t see a helmet versus in Toronto I’m starting to see a lot less helmets. I’m finding that it’s because the more bicyclists there are, the more aware the people are, the slower people are going I’m finding, both cars and bikes. They’re going a lot slower than they used to go. There are less helmets that I’m seeing out there and I’m seeing people being much more aware when people aren’t wearing helmets. I don’t know … I don’t see this as an excuse to not wear helmets.

I think it goes back to your earlier point because there needs to be more regulations. I don’t know if helmets are the regulation for bicyclists or if it’s speed. So slow down the bicyclists to down to 15, I don’t know. 15 kilometers an hour, I don’t know. I know of some very fast bicyclists without helmets and that’s dangerous. I think it’s a weird … I think all of these studies are going to be incredibly important of the next 10 years for this city as we see more and more people switching to bikes.

Davelle:              Yeah, absolutely. Just going back to the whole real estate thing of course. Would you say a lot of your friends are living in condos versus houses? Is that sort of their choice of living?

Kendra:               Yes, definitely. I think it’s funny … Another kind of interesting thing with Toronto is that you notice a lot of people who grew up in the suburbs lives in the suburbs. [inaudible 00:16:57] and the Mississaugas and whatnot when they’re moving downtown they move down and they often live on the other side of Front street. Down in [inaudible 00:17:03] on Bremner and all those large condos down there. A lot of the people like me who grew up Down-central are also moving into condos, but we’re moving more into mid-rises. So Queen West, King West, [inaudible 00:17:16] all those various areas, Little Italy. Yet we’re all moving into these much more shared spaces and it almost feels as though we’re trying … I don’t know if it’s regression we’re moving back to undergrad where we all lived together, but it’s that communal lifestyle. It’s that shared living space. It’s the fact that you … You want to live where you work, where you learn, where you play kind of thing. Your house is not a place where you will spend more than maybe nine hours a day. Seven of them are sleeping. So do we need that space.

Davelle:              Yeah, that definitely makes sense. I mean, I would say that I’ve certainly noticed a lot more commercial building being built in the Downtown Core and I think that that’s one of the reasons is because for a lot of millennials they don’t want to work in Mississauga. They don’t want to drive a car out into those places. They want to live in the city and they want work in the city and they want to be able to walk to work. It’s funny it poses an interesting question about some neighborhoods, as an agent people will ask me, “What do you think about Liberty Village?” I’ll say, “You know, I don’t think living in Liberty Village is a good idea.” Partly because I think it’s going to be very difficult to walk to the Downtown Core from Liberty Village because there’s so many people living there that I find the streetcars are so busy getting there that I’m noticing a lot of foot traffic just walking along King West. I think a lot of it is people trying to get to their place in Liberty Village because they think they can’t take the street car.

Kendra:               It’s funny, I live on King West and I live east of Bathurst, so basically Bathurst and King, and I walk to work everyday and I do see a lot of people … The streetcar by the time it gets to Bathurst is slammed. You can outwalk two or three streetcars before you get to the financial district and as someone at NXTCity Prize we focus on public space and adjoined public space and the ability to create these spaces where people [inaudible 00:19:11] work, and together, and happily in high quality, and that places like Liberty and [inaudible 00:19:17] they’re disconnected. It’s not because of the rail lines, it’s not ‘cus of Front street, and I think a lot of people say that it is, it’s the rail lines. No, it’s that no one’s thought that the network of walk ability was capable from there. They figured people would be using these spaces at Downtown Core and then perhaps driving out to Mississauga to work versus the fact that people would actually use these spaces that are a good two kilometers, three kilometers away from the Downtown like the financial district, but you can walk that. People walk to. So they didn’t connect properly.

When I first moved home back to Toronto I briefly lived on Sudbury street and I remember the metro and I was so excited. I was like, you know that’s great. There’s been a grocer drain in this area, Al fresco, but again it’s separated. It took me probably 30 minutes to get a metro because I had to go all the way around to get into Liberty. This is not planning. You see the sign, but you’re disconnected because no one thought the people there actually wanted to be downtown versus drive back out. That’s a problem. I know the city is trying to do what it can to redesign that neighborhood to be more conducive to downtown living, but that’ll take years.

Davelle:              Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I recently had a client and he said, “What about Liberty Village?” And I said, “Well, you know there’s pretty much only one street in there and one street out of there. So if you’re driving your car you’re gonna be stuck in this long line of people waiting to turn into or onto Strachan.” It’s just … It’s a hassle.

Kendra:               As a bicyclist it’s dangerous because you get a lot of people frustrated who are trying to get really quick off it. Or they’re coming from the highway and they’re still going far too fast. It’s the only entrance and it’s very unsafe. As a bicyclist I will not take that route. I actually go around the other way simply ‘cus it’s just not safe to go home that way.

Davelle:              Wow, that makes a lot of sense. Absolutely. So can you tell us a little bit about NXTCity Prize actually and what you guys are doing?

Kendra:               Sure. We build great public spaces. In short, we’re competition for people under the age of 35 that live in Toronto that are interested in design, and development, and planning. Basically city building. Our competition is, each year it’s in a different space and it’s often times undefined a large grand prize though is what you build, we will be working with the city to have it built. So kind of creating these great spaces that are actually built. So get creative and know that this will happen. Then we have other various categories where we will work with the winners with the categories to connect them to related categories companies and again work to get these ideas, these great ideas built. We’ve been doing it now for, this is our third year. Our first year was … Yeah, I know it’s crazy, time flies. Our first year was with Yonge Street Redux and that was the winner. Now the winners are with Yonge Street redevelopment. Second year was Sunnyside Park dock side. That’s currently in motion for being put together.

This year we’re going kind of next level and [inaudible 00:22:35] which is the main company that started NXTCity Prize. They started a number of [inaudible 00:22:41] and NXTCity talks and we again as we do every year, we complete it with a NXTCity night and awards ceremony. Where we basically take over an unknown space in the city and we Epic Gala party awards where we just have the best of the best of food and drink. We got Oyster Boy was out major sponsor [crosstalk 00:23:02] Tramba Tequila, just incredible visionaries. The Get Fresh Company’s been our clothing company … And they are doing amazing things in Toronto and around the world.

My goal with it is, there’s so much more to city building than brinks and mortar and the bottom line and the monitor side and mind you I do that everyday in my job, but so much more to it. Incorporating food, the wine, the distills, the clothing, the music, what-have-you and getting people excited about their city and what their city has to offer. That’s what makes the best of city building. When you’re walking down King street and you look into the offices and you see … or I guess Queen street you see Get Fresh Company and their new clothing, and their YYZ hats, and then the people inside doing the work and working super hard, and seeing all these people walking around, and they get inspired to do something else. That is city building.

Davelle:              Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Can you elaborate a little bit about, you had mentioned the person who won last year was a project in Sunnyside. What are they going to be doing to help build the city in that area?

Kendra:               One of the parts of it is … [inaudible 00:24:20] city planner Jennifer Keesmaat’s been a huge supporter of NXTCity Prize. What her focus is with the winners of the grand prize is an iteration of that win will be then incorporated into a city project or a redevelopment plan that’s underway in that area. The winners will be able to work with and learn … the big thing is building these public spaces that I think personally are lacking in the city. I could talk about the great things of Toronto ’til we’re all blue in the face. Love it, we are lacking in a lot of these public spaces especially in the Downtown Core for people to really enjoy. Also there is so much talent out there and it’s so competitive. If we can help people get their foot in the door toward being a planner, being a developer, being a designer, a landscape architect, that 10 fold is our benefit. That’s where I know Keesmaat has been very, very involved and seeking out this talent and utilizing it in the public sector.

Davelle:              Perfect, that’s great. I think you mentioned you live in the King West area?

Kendra:               Yes.

Davelle:              And why did you choose that particular area of the city to live in?

Kendra:               I love the mix of the old and the new. [inaudible 00:25:45] big supporter of NXT and they work a lot with the bricks and mortar and kind of the old bones and new interiors. I think that’s the most beautiful thing with the city where you can walk into a building and you know that building’s been there for a hundred plus years, but the interior is all new and sustainable. I think that’s just so beautiful. I wanted to be able to walk or bike to work as necessary. I love the sound of the streetcar. Love the hustle and bustle. I grew up in The Annex, I used to live in Little Italy, always lived in the West End, always lived in the Downtown Core, and I just think it’s … The best part of it I guess for me is being able to walk to Chinatown [inaudible 00:26:25] on weekends and get my groceries. Then being able to kind of have my friends over for rooftop barbecue and then walk out onto King street or Queen street or walk to Wellington. Everything there is just so convenient and there’s never a dull moment on King street.

Davelle:              Yeah, absolutely. It’s very busy and there are tons of restaurants now. I’m actually surprised even just in the last five years how much it’s changed in terms of the number of restaurants and bars down there. One another thing I started to notice is how many development proposal signs I’m seeing in that neighborhood now. I consider that to be a neighborhood that’s pretty built up. There’s already a lot of condo buildings down there. When I look at some of the development proposals … I think I’ve seen one on King street beside the Starbucks and I noticed a couple on Wellington. I think, “Wow, what is this neighborhood going to look like 10 years from now?”

Kendra:               Well the neighborhood is protected. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the three kings. It’s either two kings or three kings, depends on who you’re talking to. It was a very smart call made about 10 years ago, I could be wrong on that one, but it’s a King Bathurst, King Spadina, and King Parliament. Those three kings were thought out by developers as these three nodes that are prime for great building and great development. Your now seeing kind of the fruit of the labor of pushing these in-city Toronto planning department as being these are the great spaces for density and intensification because you are out of the financial district, you’re in a walk friendly area. We got all these older, at the time, very under utilized, old factory warehouse buildings that have … So prime for potential. Then you’re also surrounded by these great spaces like the parks in the area, Trinity-Bellwoods, and Chinatown, and Wellington, and Spadina, and just all these great arterial streets that deserve the attention of a walk friendly neighborhood community.

Davelle:              Sure, that definitely makes sense. Now for you do you rent or own. I think earlier you said you were renting now, is that correct?

Kendra:               Yes, I am renting yes.

Davelle:              How come? Is that just ‘cus you’re sort of just not ready yet? You haven’t found the place you want?

Kendra:               I’m not ready yet. I know what I want. It’s definitely gonna be a house that will be broken up and I will keep it broken up and rent within until I’m ready to kind of renovate and make it my own. I’m just not there yet. I speak for the majority of people now. I have loans and I want to pay them first. The bank of mom and dad they’re still reasonably open when I need it. I’m quite happy and I love my apartment. It’s cheap where exactly where I am, it’s great.

Davelle:              Awesome that sounds great. Thank you so much Kendra for chatting with us today. Anything else you wanted to say sort of before we close things off today?

Kendra:               No I guess if anyone’s interested in NXT, just go to the website NXTcity Prize and submit your competition. You never know, you might become the next big builder.

Davelle:              Awesome. That sounds great. Thanks of much Kendra for joining us today. Thank you so much.

Kendra:               Thank you very much.

Davelle:              Bye. Thanks everybody for listening and you can find me at or at Twitter @DavelleMorrison or on Instagram @DavelleMorrison. Thanks everyone for listening. Bye for now.