It’s safe to say that after renting for the past 10+ years that I’ve picked up a thing or two about renting. Yes, renting is certainly a spectacular way to throw your money away, but until yourself ready to make the plunge into the world of buying your first home, finding a good roof over your head is your next best alternative.
Fortunately, Toronto offers an exceptional number of tools for finding your next condo. While the average price of rent in Toronto is reaching record highs, it’s important to live by the following rules when looking:
- Carve out at least an hour every morning and evening to look at listings. You need to be first at catching the right property for a viewing.
- Get a good agent. While going solo has its perks, you’ll find the experience a lot easier with a reliable real estate agent. I suggest the team at FoxMarin because they’re super professional and quick to book properties.
- Once you see a few good places, send your agent the MLS #’s and cross your fingers.
- The fact is: you’ll probably run into a few duds. A lot of them, to be exact. Sometimes it’s worth seeing a place only to see the building – then monitor any listings that come up in that building afterwards.
- Have your credit report, letter of employment, and first and last month’s rent ready.
- Bidding sucks, but in Toronto it’s become a way of life. Renting in August and September becomes very aggressive – literally, listings can disappear after 24 hours. Expect to bid an extra $50 for the right place if the market is hot.
- If you’re spending 50% of your income on your rent, consider freelancing on the side and build a side business. Or start gambling here and pray that Lady Luck’s got your back.
During my searches, I’ve always found it useful to jump between websites to compare listing information, find rentals faster, and even compare photos with similar units in the building. Here are 5 of the most useful rental websites for finding a home in Toronto.
Offered by SAGE, Collaborate (Collab for short) a super useful tool for navigating and obsessing over new listings. It’s easy to navigate and is built to allow communication between hunters and agents.
- Searching for listings is easy via map and listings view
- New properties are fed into Collab quickly
- Like a few places? Favourite them, add them to a list, and even give it a thumbs down if it sucks. Comments will be seen by your agent too
- Like most listings on MLS, the picture quality is continuously horrible. Does anyone even care to check them anymore? At this point I’ve seen photos upside down, pointed diagonally at a wall, unnecessarily bad image filters, and microscopically sized
- In-app communication seems useful, but nothing beats a simple email/call to your agent
- Not accessible to the public without working with a SAGE agent
Feeding MLS listings in a cool, unique map view format, Realtor.ca has become the current standard for publicly viewing new listings in Toronto. Sure, it’s a bit quirky to navigate, but it’s easy to get stuck spending hours looking at new listings.
- Creating a free account is worth it simply for the Favouriting feature
- Much like Google Maps, scrolling around the map auto populates new listings
- Heaps of information is available for each listing
- It’s as slow as an elephant, making it tedious to navigate
- I’m picky, but the order of listings will change every time you navigate the map, making it hard to tell which listings you saw already
- You better have an agent already – you won’t be able to dial in for viewings without one
This site kind of popped up out of nowhere, but it has some great information on listings beyond what MLS provides. What makes it pretty great is the building details – it populates information on each building including history, amenities, and more. Plus, you can filter by new listings by both neighbourhood and by drawing an area with their pencil tool. Neat stuff.
- Lots of data – especially stuff like square footage, which somehow appears more accurate than MLS
- If you’ve found a building you like, Condos.ca is perfect to watch it like a hawk
- Indexed extremely well on Google search results, making it easy to find
- Creating an account on their website requires giving up your credit score. Absolutely terrible onboarding decision.
- Limited to – you guessed it – condos only.
Everyone likes a shiny new tool, and Casalova is exactly that. Not only do they provide a slick interface to search listings on, but they also provide a full-service solution by allowing renters to get insurance from them, even pay rent through them. Home owners get perks too – they have their own separate app which they can accept/decline viewings and have their property managed. It’s an all-in-one situation.
- Easily the best looking real estate listing site in Canada
- Provides services beyond just finding you the right place
- Recently acquired My Property Managers to expand their service offerings into property management
- You won’t find as many listings here – but that’s expected as the startup is still young and actively growing
Yep – ol’ Kijiji is still the go-to for agent-less listings. While you may be able to find the diamond in the rough here, expect to see a lot of duds. It’s kind of like Winners – you can save a few bucks shopping, but unless you strike gold, don’t expect them to have your exact size.
- No agents necessary – contact the owner directly for a viewing
- You’ll occasionally find cheaper listings here
- There are still plenty of thieving scam artists on Kijiji. If you’re spooked, trust your instincts.
- You’ll have to wade through a lot of crap listings before finding a decent one. Get ahead of the pack via text or phone call, instead of emailing.