September 2012 Home Of The Month – Wallace Emerson

Wallace/Emerson & Brockton Village

Welcome to our September Home of The Month Feature, which showcases a City of Toronto property recently purchased by an Buyer.

At, we’ve been extremely fortunate to have clients enlist our services multiple times over the years. In fact, one of our clients has had us represent them on 17 trades! Isn’t that astonishing? We’re so grateful!

More typical, however, is the client who relies on our guidance as they climb the property ladder to their dream home and then, once that has been achieved, we focus on building their investment property portfolio to ensure they’re financially secure in retirement. After all, if you buy a rental property twenty-five years prior to your retirement, you’ve got plenty of time for your tenants to pay off the mortgage debt on it, leaving you an additional source of income as you move into your golden years.

In this circumstance, our  Buyers, a creative professional couple, were interested in purchasing a two or three unit property that was structurally sound, featured a decent space plan, and was located in proximity to their principal residence in the central west end. They weren’t afraid of tackling a renovation. In fact, they liked the idea that any upgrades and improvements they undertook immediately would ultimately increase the property’s income stream, attract a better calibre of tenant, and eliminate some of the future maintenance and repair issues. If you’re going to buy an income property, we recommend you have some additional capital to direct towards building repairs and upgrades. Otherwise you run the risk of having unhappy tenants phoning you with their repair lists, and you’ll find the property feels more like a money pit hassle than an appreciating asset.

Here’s a past post called Tackling The Property Tune-Up which demonstrates our recommended first steps when purchasing an income property.

When this Vintage Grocery Store came to market in the Wallace Emerson District, which is the quadrant north of Bloor and west of Dufferin through Lansdowne to Symington, I considered this a great long term opportunity. This neighbourhood pocket is in the early stages of gentrification and quickly transforming. Bloor Street is rapidly transitioning with entrepreneurial boutiques, art galleries and cafes. To the north on Dupont is a large shopping centre that has all the sundry needs a tenant could want. And, down the street from this property is direct access to the Lansdowne subway station. In fact, this pocket is one of the last inexpensive central west end neighbourhoods in proximity to the downtown core right on the speedy Bloor subway line.

Are you curious to learn more about this central west end location? Click HERE for another income property we sold on Dufferin Street, and click HERE for a house we sold near Bloor and Lansdowne. Both of these are past Home Of The Month features.

When this property came to market, it was offered as two large units. The main and lower level 3-bedroom + family room suite was generating $1500 per month, and the second level 3-bedroom suite was occupied by the owners’ son for a monthly rent of $1535 per month. These rents were low, and the opportunity existed to both reconfigure the dwelling and upgrade it to garner a higher income. This was contingent on the Seller providing vacant possession, which was essential to undertake the level of work required. Fortunately, the Seller was willing to provide vacant possession.

As you can see in the photograph above, this property was a wee bit weathered but offered tremendous opportunity and hard-to-find qualities including high ceilings, wrapped in windows, and a sun-drenched corner lot that faces south and west. Like many Toronto former corner grocers, this space has that open expansiveness rare in Toronto dwellings, and a real loft-like feel. These qualities will always make this a desirable dwelling, and even more so when the neighbourhood evolves into a trendy location which is imminent.

To elevate the property and bring it to a more ‘turn-key’ condition, my Buyers upgraded the major building components including a new roof, boiler and some required re-wiring. In the second level 3-bedroom suite they added more storage, a new bath, new floors, appliances and a Juliette Balcony off the kitchen, which improved the natural light, air flow and views into the trees. This unit could have commanded a rent closer to $2100 per month, but my Buyers rented it to someone they know for less. Like many landlords, sometimes it’s not about the income as much as finding a trust-worthy tenant who loves your dwelling as much as you do.

With the main and lower level suite, my Buyers split the space into two units. On the lower level, which already had a separate entrance and dug-down basement, they increased the size of the lightwells around the perimeter of the exterior to provide larger windows both for light and escape in the event of a calamity. They also installed a new kitchen, updated the fixtures and tiled the floor to give it a smart fresh look. This lower level now 2-bedroom suite generates an income of $1250 per month. On the main level, this character suite was reconfigured into a 2-bedroom suite with a new washroom. It now rents for $1750. Here’s an interior ‘Before’ pic of the former storefront from the MLS listing:


What was previously generating $3035 per month in income now brings a gross rent of just under $5000 per month. With a detached brick 2-car garage, my Buyers could also generate additional income renting out the parking spaces, though they are considering converting this into their art studio.  While my Buyers invested a capital sum of $200,000 to ‘do it right’, they’re also going to enjoy the benefit of an extended period of maintenance free ownership, and will always attract better tenants.

Listed at $659,000, my Buyers competed against seven others to secure the property for $801,000.

This property was a great long-term hold that will always provide a great income stream! If you’re interested in purchasing an investment property in the City Of Toronto, or know someone who is, please know this is one of our fortes. With a multi-disciplinary education in housing, over twenty-two years of real estate sales, marketing and development including a sterling reputation as one of Bosley Real Estate’s Top Producers, we make it our mandate to guide buyers and sellers through all their real estate needs.

~ Steven

Home Of The Month

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