Prospective homebuyers with the dream of living on the Toronto Islands can now put their names down on the Purchasers’ List.

It’s the only way to have a chance of owning property on the Islands, as homes here are sold through a regulated system per legislation introduced in 1993. Under it, houses are sold at fixed prices, but only to one of the 500 names on the Purchasers’ List.

How the process works is relatively straightforward. Bids for homes start with the first person on the list, and then they move down until they reach someone who wants to place a bid and financing is complete. Then the house is considered sold.

The Trust usually sends the offers to the top 150 to 250 names on the list, and according to the Toronto Islands Residential Community Trust Corporation, buyers are typically found among the first 100 people.

As of Tuesday, and until Nov. 1, registration for the Purchasers’ List is open, and once it closes, it won’t open up for another two years. It costs $20 for the application.

New members are added to the end of the bidding list, and they only move up as those ahead of them either buy a home or stop paying their membership dues.

According to the Trust, an average of 15 to 20 people each year don’t renew their place on the list, but they typically cannot predict how many people will remove their names each year.

The Trust also reminds those joining that they cannot foresee how many homes will sell in any given year.

Since the Purchasers’ List’s establishment in 1994, there have been a total of 70 homes sold.

In 2020, one detached home on Ward Island was going for just $160,000, and it didn’t sell a dollar over the asking price due to the regulations under the Toronto Islands Residential Community Stewardship Act.


All of the homes on the Islands sit on public land that has been leased from the province for the next 70 years, until December 2092. Homebuyers get to hold the title of the property until then, but never the land it sits on.

As a result, the value of the land is set by legislation. Before the Act, the cost of a lease on Ward’s Island went for $36,000 and it was $46,000 for a lot on Algonquin Island. But now a lease on Ward’s Island goes for around $60,000 or $78,000 on Algonquin Island. The lease is a one-time payment.

As for the value of a house on the Islands, the prices are not determined by the lot size and location. Instead, it is valued through a regulated appraisal and inspection process and only based on how much it cost to build the home.

According to the Trust, house prices range between roughly $50,000 to $700,000 with average prices falling in the $150,000 to $400,000 range (excluding the one-time lease cost). It is still a far cry from the average prices in the GTA’s current real estate market.

With files from CTV Toronto’s Sean Davidson.