Sarah & Steven: From Condo to Dream House

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Sarah grew up in Nova Scotia and Steven was raised in Sudbury, but their paths crossed at university in Toronto. They married and bought a spacious, 2-storey stacked townhouse at Bloor and Lansdowne in 2013 with the expectation of staying there for many years.

Ultimately though, their goal was to own a property with a little more room and some green space. Steve grew vegetables on the balcony, but wanted a house with a real garden. They enjoyed entertaining on their large rooftop terrace, but Sarah wanted a neighbourhood with less concrete and a “better feeling of community”. As they saw Toronto housing prices continue to soar, they were afraid that waiting any longer would make their dream unattainable.

Remembering their friend Heather’s rave reviews of working with Jody as her realtor, Sarah and Steve gave her a call. They expected the process to take months, but Steve also said, “I knew Sarah would go full steam at this. We were out looking at houses with Jody every time something new came on the market. One day we saw 12 properties together!”

Jody quickly established an excellent rapport with Sarah and Steven, who say they appreciated her experience and helpful guidance. She won their confidence with her accurate market valuations, and discouraged them from bidding emotionally on properties.

The first house they made an offer on was a large, renovated semi near College and Lansdowne. Jody showed Sarah the home in person, but Steven only saw it online. Listed at $899,900, they knew it was going to go quickly, but how quickly and for how much still came as a bit of a shock – it sold in 3 days for hundreds of thousands of dollars over asking.

The front of the house that got away, photo courtesy of Toronto MLS® system

Interior of the house that got away, photo courtesy of Toronto MLS® system

Disappointed but determined, their search continued for something as centrally-located as possible. Sarah wanted to stay in the same general area they’d been living in, and added, “With Steve commuting to work in Oakville, something in the east end that might be more affordable was just not an option for us.”

When a 2 1/2-storey, semi-detached century home at Queen and Roncesvalles came on the market at $999,000, Jody quickly took Sarah and Steve for a viewing. There was a lot to love about the property, but it was severed into two units. The listing stated the tenant would leave by closing, and it could easily be used as a single-family home, but the awkward set-up probably deterred some prospective buyers.

Front view of home with large porch ©Allyson Scott

Renovated main floor kitchen with high ceilings, photo courtesy of Toronto MLS® system

Living room, photo courtesy of Toronto MLS® system

Second floor kitchen, photo courtesy of Toronto MLS® system

Rear deck and patio, photo courtesy of Toronto MLS® system

They were afraid the competition was going to get crazy on offer night, but knew they had to try.

There were only two offers on the table until 6:55, when a third buyer registered for the 7:00 p.m. presentation. Sarah and Steven went in with a strong offer, but were asked to improve. They increased their bid just slightly, knowing they were still within the market value range they’d discussed with Jody, and were confident they weren’t letting emotion get the better of them. A very similar property they’d had their eye on sold the night before for $100,000 more than they were offering on this house. Their revised offer was accepted, and both they and the sellers were happy with the outcome.

Sarah and Steven have moved into their dream home, saying they can’t quite believe it’s actually theirs. “It’s more house that we need right now, but we don’t want to move again within the city. If we do move, it would be a situation like returning to the east coast,” Sarah said.

They’ve already removed the extra doors that led to the second unit, repurposed some of the rooms upstairs, and started painting. They plan to dismantle the second kitchen, as they have no intention of using the home as a rental property.

Sarah and Steven and their cat Robbie making himself at home ©Allyson Scott

In the living room with Robbie © Allyson Scott

Steven in one of the many multifunctional spaces in his new house  © Allyson Scott

A portion of their freshly-painted master bedroom © Allyson Scott

A perfect dining room for a party © Allyson Scott

Since they bought their home in the winter, Sarah and Steven have no idea what plants and shrubs exist in their back yard. It’s the last little happy surprise in this process, as they wait to see what spring growth pops up, and make plans for some landscaping of their own. They say the only thing they miss about their house-hunting experience is spending time with Jody.

Thanks so much guys, I’ll be right over with a bottle of wine!

Steve and Sarah on the roof deck that overlooks their yard © Allyson Scott

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