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Real Estate


The Chase: a 27-year-old renter buys a Trinity Bellwoods starter home with her younger brother

The Chase: the search for a downtown starter home becomes a family affair

The buyers: Julia Cameron, a 27-year-old importer-exporter, and her brother, Daniel, a 25-year-old music producer.

The story: After renting for eight years, mostly around Bloor and Christie, Julia wanted to buy a house downtown but couldn’t afford one. Her parents were willing to help her out with the down payment, on the condition that she find a place with extra rooms she could rent out to generate income. Together they agreed on a budget of $800,000, and Julia started looking at four- and five-bedroom houses west of Spadina and south of Bloor. But deep down, Julia knew she didn’t want to live with so many people—she’d been doing it for too long already. As the search progressed, her criteria and expectations shifted until she wound up with an entirely different financial arrangement—and one unexpected roommate.

Shannon Street (near College and Ossington)OPTION 1
Shannon Street (near College and Ossington). Listed at $849,000, sold for $770,000.
The first place Julia saw was a big four-bedroom in her first-choice neighbourhood. It had been on the market for more than a month, so Julia figured she could get away with offering $775,000, well below the list price. The sellers thought they could do better and rejected the offer—only to end up selling the place a few months later for $770,000.

Argyle Street (near Ossington and Dundas)OPTION 2
Argyle Street (near Ossington and Dundas). Listed at $549,000, sold for $732,000.
Having decided to go cheaper and smaller, Julia viewed this three-bedroom semi. It had hardwood floors and high ceilings and was just off the Ossington strip. She would still have to share, but with lower mortgage payments she could afford to be more selective about roommates. She offered $80,000 over asking but was outbid by more than $100,000.

Crocker Avenue (near Queen and Claremont)

Crocker Avenue (near Queen and Claremont). Listed at $569,000, sold for $572,016.
This place, divided into two suites with separate entrances, gave the Camerons an idea. Julia’s brother, Daniel, had been living at home and wanted to move out. If the siblings bought together, he could have his own space and share in the monthly mortgage payments, which would be manageable between the two of them. Julia and Daniel both loved the house, so the family drew up a plan: each sibling would take 49 per cent ownership, while the parents would take two per cent. On the advice of their agent, Andrea Bock, they offered $3,000 over asking (plus $16, for luck) and beat out the only other offer.

  • Steve Bako

    there goes our crappy agent again, only one other offer and go over…. sure…. nasty realtors!!

  • QueerGuy

    That dump sold for $180k+ over asking? Did it come with a free ton of gold?!

  • 00AV

    Enjoy selling for a large loss down the road Julia!

  • norsem4n

    :S I will never be able to afford a place in this area. :(

  • ElysiaRuttan

    House, with a separate basement apartment, literally beside Trinity Bell Woods. I’m honestly asking why you say that.

  • dani spare

    Its probably not a bad deal considering location but honestly..over half a mil for that?? i guess they could do an overhaul with the some of the money she budgeted. personally, i rather go farther out and get a nicer house.

    the first option was not a bad deal, just her bad luck owners thought they could do better.

  • Scooter

    And presumably she had help with the downpayment?

  • 00AV

    All (or most based on the article) of her money is now in a single, declining asset class. Not a savvy investment choice at this time imho. Instead she could rent for a couple more years, put the same money in a diversified TFSA account returning 4-5%, and then buy when the eventual market downturn happens. If she’d sucked it up and “suffered” a little bit longer she’d be much further ahead in the future.

  • Pamela Kullo-Egelton

    Come on people – they got into the market and at the bottom end of their budget. If they keep it long enough it will build up equity allowing them to move up. Most people are not disciplined enough to save their money to buy later. The earlier they get into the market and save through forced mortgage payments the better. Both siblings have privacy which is a plus. Putting a 25 and 27 year old into a real estate investment is a good thing, not a bad one. Most people at this age are not looking into investing their money. Having privacy allows for future relationships giving them time in this place to build up equity before they move on to the next stage, a bigger place, in the neighbourhood they want to live in long term and investing possibly with a “life time partner”.
    I think this place is a “Good Buy” for these siblings. They are lucky to have parents willing to help them get into the market. Having the 25 year old move out and becoming independent requiring him to now pay a mortgage is a plus! Ever try and collect rent off your children? Next to impossible task.

    I have friends who did something similar to get their kids started and it worked out well. With Toronto prices such as they are I think people need to just get started and not worry. If they qualify for a mortgage get going on buying what you can afford. Any 25 and 27 year old people I know spend their money on entertainment and eating out. This forces you into a different lifestyle.

    Good for them.

  • Blair Coughtrey

    How you could try to assert that downtown houses are a declining asset class is beyond fathomable. They aren’t making any new houses in the city of Toronto! Supply and demand. Get in while you can.

  • 00AV

    You sound like every other real estate shill I’ve met. “They’re not making any more land!”, “Buy now or be priced out forever!”…. all the same rhetoric that some people sadly believe. I’d rather be liquid, thanks.

  • Blair Coughtrey

    Have fun raising your family in that basement apartment!

  • 00AV

    Another silly assumption that because I do not own a home I do not have a lovely abode, or live above ground. Assumptions like that, and believing “buy now or never”, will come to haunt many, many people.