July 2015 Home Of The Month – High Park / Swansea

Swansea / High Park / Bloor West Village

Welcome to urbaneer.com's Home Of The Month. This feature provides a snapshot of the Toronto real estate urbaneer.com's Buyers have recently purchased.

With our 25-year history helping buyers purchase unique urban spaces in the City of Toronto‎, it isn't unusual for us to help loft dwellers exit their vintage factory to climb the property ladder into a more traditional dwell. After all, the hard loft may have the architectural sizzle of brick walls and soaring ceilings befitting urbane adults, but when junior comes along, those hard surfaces and 2-storey volumes can pose a safety risk. 

Such was the case with our Buyers – a young couple – in this month's feature. Living in their factory space near Dupont and Lansdowne, with their active toddler sleeping in the mezzanine bedroom, the time had come to purchase‎ more family-friendly accommodations. 

Buyers exiting the condo lifestyle into the downtown freehold market often have one experience in common:  how overwhelmed – and disappointed – they become when they have to reconcile their budget garners them ‎a fixer-upper that's mostly worth the land it sits on. A downtown lot today is worth, on average, around $650,000 just for the lot. This means the acquisition price of a tear-down is often the purchasing budget of a first time house buyer! We've written about this in the past in posts, including one called, Dear urbaneer – Why Are So Many Downtown Houses Being Renovated?

Our Buyers identified the neighbourhoods of High Park, Bloor West‎ and Swansea as their ideal both for accessibility to work in the northwest quadrant of the city. Like many coming-from-a-condo Buyers they didn't want to do too much work to a house – or as little as possible – while hoping to keep their budget in and around the 800k mark. Knowing their budget meant a likelihood a house would require some upgrading, these Buyers like many explored whether they should buy a house or a condo. We've written about the merits of each in the past, in this terrific post called Dear urbaneer – Do I Buy A House Or A Condo?

During their four month search, our Buyers initially offered on a charming renovated – albeit small – two bedroom house in Baby Point that soared 18 percent over its 749k asking price with ten offers, and ultimately 26 percent more than what it had sold for just 30 months earlier. This experience prompted us to write one of our 'Tales From The Real Estate Trenches' posts we called Toronto Real Estate And The Spring Weather Mob. Along with the tale of what happened, this post provides a crash course in 'Bully Offers and Bidding Wars' too. It's a good read for anyone learning the nuts and bolts of a hot market.

One interesting housing opportunity that came to market during their search was on busy Keele Street – an arterial road north of High Park. The house had good bones and a lower level income suite, but the drawbacks were no on-site parking (on a street with tow-away times during rush hours) and the fact that the house required substantial upgrading that could make it a perpetual 'work-in-progress'. Urbaneer still gave it the thumb's up for the opportunity, as it was large enough that our Buyers could sidestep the need to climb the property ladder again in the future, providing they were willing to spend ten to fifteen years chipping away at the necessary $150,000 in building component upgrades and renovations. However, it was during a discussion about this that our Buyers acknowledged they might only stay in Toronto for five to seven years, which prompted us to pull the plug on the house as a contender for them; we never recommend a move into something requiring so much work that you can never complete it during your proposed tenure. After all, trying to sell a half renovated house jeopardizes generating the kind of return on investment one would otherwise get on a finished product. As it turned out, despite going into a bidding war the Seller took it off the market when he couldn't bring himself to part ways with the longtime family home.

Which brings us to this month's feature property, which came to market about a month later and was significantly more suitable. A condo townhouse in a small complex nestled in the Village of Swansea just south of Bloor Street, it offered all the benefits of a freehold house (a yard, parking and a bucolic setting) while bypassing the major overhaul a similar freehold house in this location (offered at 799k) would require. And while it had a common fee of $500 per month (plus individual utilities), if you take into account that the $6000 a year sum was going into a collective savings account for exterior maintenance and repair ‎(and water and building insurance which is around $1000 of that 6k sum), the total annual expense of this property was quite reasonable. After all, if you compare it to the costs associated with fixing the building components of any 80-year-old vintage house in this area, it comes out a winner.  Better still, this well-managed complex had, in recent years, invested a substantial sum into the building envelope, including concrete repairs, roofing, window replacement, and new decking, which addressed a lot of the commonly owned elements. 

Facing a pretty ravine, this three-bedroom, four-bathroom garden townhouse with a one-car garage had substantially more space ‎(including a walk-out rec room and a massive 15×15 foot storage room) than the two-bedroom house our Buyers had previously bid on. Yes, it had the residue of the 1970's in it, including popcorn ceilings and dated washrooms, but the kitchen was of a decent quality, and there were wood floor upgrades. Moreover, it came with a stellar Swansea location, near to park vistas and a great school. 

Here's some pics of this 4-level condo townhouse in Swansea:



Tenanted and slightly forlorn – both which ultimately spell opportunity for those Buyers who can see potential – the 799k list price didn't attract the competition the Sellers had hoped. While our Buyers reconciled their finances, we received word a price reduction was imminent, which created an opportunity to negotiate a purchase price for nearly 30k less with the Sellers' preferred price.

A big thanks to Rachel and Alex for entrusting us to guide you through the house-buying process!

We LOVE what we do, and consider ourselves most fortunate.

Serving first and next-time buyers, relocations, renovators and those building their long term property portfolios, our mandate is to help our clients choose property which will realize the highest future return on their investment while ensuring the property best serves their practical needs and their dream of “Home” during their ownership. At urbaneer, we identify a property's best qualities, features and insouciant charm in the context of your wishes and wants, plus your future target market. Although searching for the right property can be an intense and sometimes lengthy process it is, without fail, rewarding both to our clients and the urbaneer team. We are so grateful to be the realtor of choice for so many Torontonians, and new arrivals.

If you, or someone you love, has specific real estate needs, wishes and desires, and would enjoy the personalized service of a Top Producing boutique real estate team who subscribe to a pressure-free approach, please know we're here to help at urbaneer.com.

~ Steven and the urbaneer team
  earn your trust, then your business

Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage – (416) 530-1100

** Did you know we also lead a Student Mentorship and Internship Program for Canadians being educated in the field of housing? Consider visiting our newest architecture, design and landscape site called HousePorn.ca

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