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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)

THE BUY
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.