Canadian investors look to L.A., where some celeb homes rival inner-city Toronto prices

As if housing market prices in Toronto aren't discouraging enough, a celebrity pad in Los Angeles can be comparable in price to some homes in the downtown core.

A Hollywood Hills house owned by Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club actor Jared Leto, for example, is currently listed for sale at $1.9 million US.

According to the listing by Modern Living LA, the four-bedroom, three-bathroom home is "hidden behind a quiet façade," has a recording studio, and "a gorgeous lagoon-style pool surrounded by an expansive patio and lush mature landscaping."

The list price converts to about $2.7 million Cdn, a wad of cash that wouldn't be enough to purchase the semi-detached, three-bedroom renovated home in Rosedale below.

You could find a roomy abode with that money in some of Toronto's other coveted neighbourhoods, like Parkdale or Leslieville — minus the pool, built-in recording studio and tropical landscaping.

Finding a new home

As a result, some professionals in the entertainment industry are taking a closer look at Tinseltown's real estate.

Canadian director Tricia Lee, who recently moved to L.A., is able to look at buying as opposed to renting thanks to the recent sale of her house in Hamilton.

"It will definitely help with a down payment," she told CBC News in Los Angeles.

It's possible more could be exploring buying homes in L.A. as well.

"I've had a number of big investors who are prominent in Toronto who are looking to get into the L.A. market," says Matthew Gaskill, a realtor with Sotheby's International, which specializes in luxury homes and real estate.

"I think they all have different reasons for it. Whether they think the Toronto market is being totally saturated, wanting a personal lifestyle change or wanting to explore the L.A. market."

He added that while it's not the norm, there are some celebrity homes typically owned by "young Hollywood"  — entrepreneurs, musicians, actors, he says — that could compare to inner-city prices in Toronto.

The childhood home of actress sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning is on the market in L.A. for about $2.6 million US. At nearly 3,600 square feet, it has an outdoor pool and five bedrooms in a sought-after, quiet community.

Even when converted to the Canadian equivalent of $3.5 million, it's still less than this semi-detached, two-storey home for sale on the periphery of Toronto's downtown.

Lack of inventory everywhere

But Toronto's bidding wars and skyrocketing property prices are something Gaskill is seeing in Los Angeles, too.

"There's a lack of inventory right now," he said, referring to a Beverly Hills "tear-down" that sold for over $5 million US.

When asked about his listings in other in-demand L.A. areas such as Malibu that might be under, say, the $3-million mark, he said with a laugh: "In some places, that's just going to buy you dirt."

That's a statement no househunter in a Canadian city will ever want to hear.