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Real Estate


House of the Week: $630,000 for a semi-detached in Corso Italia with a floating cedar staircase

ADDRESS: 77 Sellers Avenue

NEIGHBOURHOOD: Corso Italia-Davenport

AGENT: Amir Shahi and Aleksandra Oleksak, Sage Real Estate Ltd.

PRICE: $629,000

THE PLACE: A completely overhauled semi-detached home near St. Clair and Dufferin. Owner and realtor Amir Shahi finished the renovation in a speedy 92 days.

BRAGGING RIGHTS: Though some in city hall have dubbed St. Clair a “disaster,” the area seems anything but, as it’s hopping with ever more places to go and things to do. You’re not far from Wychwood Barns and drool-inducing fried chicken at The Stockyards.

BIG SELLING POINT: The price, for a move-in-ready home in Toronto’s hot real estate climate, is actually affordable (for some), especially considering the basement is fully finished.

POSSIBLE DEAL BREAKER: We’re sure those clicking through the photos will delight in identifying pieces from IKEA or Home Depot (but it’s still a smartly done remodel at a reasonable price).

• $629,000
• $2,450 in taxes (2011)
• 3 bedrooms
• 2 bathrooms
• 2 kitchens
• 2 fireplaces
• 1 parking spot

  • tony

    Sigh….yet another lipstick and mascara approach to a home renovation/flip. Focusing solely on the surface, on items easily replacable while neglecting the ‘bones’ of the place and subsequently not adding any real value to the house. Same leaky windows, same inadequate insulation levels throughout, same creaky subfloors and same crusty furnace and yet, the expectation by realtors is that its worth ‘top dollar’…..not to mention…..its on the wrong side of St. Clair (and wrong side of Dufferin too).

  • mark

    Gasp…Toronto Life actually featuring a house north of St. Clair, and under $900,000? #shocked.

    Without seeing a home inspection or living in the house, I can’t disagree with tony, but it *seems* like it was in pretty solid condition even pre-renos. I don’t think that subfloors will creak that much with thick new hardwood, and insulation is a rare luxury in homes built pre-1950…not something I would expect to find even after most ‘renos’, and with cheap gas prices you can just crank the heat. Not everyone can afford the extra $100,000 this would cost on the “right” side of St Clair/Dufferin. This is pretty nice “lipstick and mascara” for 92 days.

  • Suzy

    Quite surprised its owned by a realtor and he is selling it reasonable based on the renos and what he put into it.. impressive indeed. Wow. I like how he opened it up and the kitchen is nice for a small Corso Italian home. I like it and it makes sense…and worth the price. Dont think its a 92 days lipstick and mascara job.. nah…

  • Amir

    Tony .. just to reassure you. I agree with you that lipstick jobs are common and not the right approach. This home has all new subfloors and therefore little-to-no creaks. Furnace/AC are newer and function great and all electrical is brand new. Insulation was redone where possible to reinforce the already solid structure of the home.

    Marks comment re: not being able to afford the additional 100k is exactly why north of St.Clair and west of Dufferin is not necessarily the “wrong” side and offers value at a fraction of the cost for similar if not more desirable upgrades (all relative).

    To each his own though – just don’t want you thinking this is “yet another lipstick and mascara approach to a home renovation/flip” – as it isn’t.

  • Ellen

    Amir, there will always be comments from the peanut gallery (especially when people can hide behind a computer screen and make comments that one would never, ever make in person). Looks nice and it seems to be priced well. And you did a nice job! Good luck selling it!

  • Amir

    Ellen .. thank you :)

  • Mat

    Actually, this looks like a pretty good reno job. The free market will dictate whether this is priced right.

  • Likethis

    Cozy house – I’d live there!

  • Troy

    I’m actually surprised no one mentioned this yet:

    The photographer could have at least flushed the toilet first, or put the lid down.

  • hilda

    hey new floors or not.. they all eventually creak! :) My first home was north of St. Clair back in 1981.. for $60,000 it was 1 1/2 storeys, we renovated it 9 years after we bought it, made it a full two storey, with a cathedral ceiling. Never liked the laneway access and the issues with neighbours taking over the laneways like they owned the place, so off to Etobicoke we went. Best decision ever. No thanks for laneway access. Im sure the original owners of this house would faint after seeing this reno.

  • Sid

    Great job on the house. Nice find in the city.

    Like Mark, I find it refreshing that you feature a house below $900 K. While it’s always nice to see the very expensive homes, don’t put down more “affordable” ones with “Ikea and Home Depot” remarks – not all of us can get Sarah Richardson to do our homes.

  • Catarina

    I love the makeover. I grew up in this neighbourhood, in house with a very similar layout. My parent’s still live there. I always wondered how my parents could ever modernize their home, seing this before/after gallery it’s very inspiring, although I don’t expect them to renovate at their age, I will definetly show them this photo gallery.It surprises me how much the price of real estate has gone up in this area, and 629K seems to be about 100 – 150 K above the average price that houses are selling in the area, but they don’t have any modern features, so in the end you are buying a renovated house. Glad to see a more realistic looking house/price being featured in the Toronto Life. About time!

  • Amir

    Sid – i like your comment. That’s the point that a lot of these real estate shows, media etc. often miss. The masses rhat supportthe shows etc. are often middle class families with little disposable income – especially not for a major reno.

    Showing people how to diy or spruce up on a dime, i think, speaks to a broader audience and relates to Torontonians on a par level.

  • Jess

    Decor can and will almost always be swapped out. They’ve done a good job cleaning up and opening up a small house at an affordable price. Ready to move in, and be fairly central will be an attractive package. Good work.

  • karen

    Kudos on a very nice reno; it’s especially inspiring to see what can be done with a 1950s semi using some imagination, and without the sky-high budget that seems to be de rigueur these days. As someone else pointed out, not everyone has the means to afford the kinds of homes typically shown in this feature.

  • Vlad

    That bubble gum machine would look more like a fun thing and less like a prop if it actually had bubble gum in it.

  • Mike

    How much will it cost to bring back the BEFORE staircase–that is a shocking mistake.

  • Reality Check

    Property taxes seem off — $200/month for a $629k house is far too low.

    The flip looks pretty nice… a bit too much IKEA in spots, but a solid job overall. I’d give it 8.5/10.

  • Amir

    Thank you everyone for all the kind words and comments – really appreciate it!!

  • Donald

    It’s a nice renovation job, my house is almost identical layout near St. Clair and Bathurst and I did both some similar and different changes.

    These old semi-detached’s were often multi family homes and were chopped up into lots of small closable rooms. I too took out enough walls to fill several dumpsters.

    These smallish homes are fairly easy to live in. Generally, good sound insulation comes from the long layout. Ultra narrow stairs and small bathrooms are about the only daily reminder that the house is small.

    Amir, carpeting the basement is probably a mistake as flooding in this part of Toronto is very common due to the old river system. Also, with age comes mature trees with invasive roots; if the sewer system is new highlight that to buyers. Basement flooding and then seeing your foundation shattered, trenched and new pipes layed is heartbreaking, it stinks, and the city of Toronto takes years if ever to reimburse you (I still have their letter “…sorry the household drain replacement program has run out of budget…). I also exposed the main floor brick wall at staircase (also replaced). Painting brick is a major mistake: looks nice now, will look terrible in a year or thereabouts.

    These small semi detached’s sell easily as there is a large market for non-condo first time buyers. Also, the area is fine, all amenities close by on that area of St. Clair as it slowly changes, partly due to the streetcar ROW.

  • Iggy

    These houses were solid and well-made originally – I think the comments about the ‘surface’ reno might be misplaced. I’m also struck that these were the right renos and the right quality level to do for the market and location. People don’t want daring originality or super high-end finishes as much as the reality shows imply – witness the continued growth of middle quality middle class homes in the burbs. This reno updates this suitabily and within a suitable price range for its intended market, likely families in 30s or early 40s on their way up.

    And nice to see TL put a real house in this space – not a $3mn ‘cottage’ with two libraries and a helicoptor pad.

  • Rb.

    It’s way too pricey for the area, specially when the size of the lot looks to be no more than 18 to 20 feet wide.. Corso italia is over rated, once upon a time it was great but now ….!!
    Not much effort has been put in by the city to revitalize the area, what’s the point of spending so much in a place where only the inside looks some what done up when you step out n the rest of the hood looks wasted… :(
    Good effort though :)


    Here we go again: red, grey and brown on the walls. Wow, Torontonians are not big on variation and personal style when it comes to decorating it turns out. I do like the dining table though (see I can make positive comments too). The white chairs look really nice together with the dark table in wood.