Welcome to the Workshop

Welcome to the Workshop

Monday, April 7, 2014

In which we bought a house!

I know I know, I've been quiet. Again.
This time we were truly busy.

House hunting.

We decided it was time to get on with our plan to settle in Canada so we sold our Australian home (so quickly and smoothly, yay!) before Christmas.

Purchasing a home in Toronto is an extremely intimidating business, bidding wars and too many buyers. This market is hot! So it was certainly with trepidation and an expectation of months and months of searching to no avail that we got started.

We found a buying agent via word of mouth (always the best way) and he's just fabulous. He patiently took us through lots of houses we had no intention of buying, simply to help us understand the quirks of Toronto properties. Oh, the quirks! Most houses in the downtown core are at least 100 years old, and most "renovations" have either been done by DIY-ers (including the electricity! scary) or home-flippers.

Dodgy dodgy dodgy.

What we wanted was a home in almost original condition which we could renovate PROPERLY ourselves and surprisingly we found it one month into our search.

This super-hot market means that there are often 8 or 9 buyers. Houses are listed on a Monday or Tuesday, agents view them on a Friday, and prospective purchasers over the weekend. Those who are interested in trying to nab the house need to decide by Tuesday, as that's the only time offers will be accepted.
No one knows how much other purchasers will bid for the house, nor are they told at any stage in the process how much the other offers are. Super secretive and certainly in the Seller's best interest.
And so bidding wars ensue. In fact, they are so common now that eyebrows are rarely raised.

Most recently (just as we were entering the market) the bidding went a little nuts.
We went to see a nice house in an up-and-coming hood and considered putting an offer on it. Until we learned there were more than 30 bids on the table. Utter madness, we walked.
That house ended up selling for more than $200000 over asking. You can read more about it here.

Another house in our hood (probably the most desirable one in the current market) was a complete gut job and it sold for $800000 and will require at least $250000 in renovations. Probably it's still worth it in this neighbourhood but that's certainly more than we wanted to spend.

And so we decided that the only way we were likely to secure a house within the next six months would be to look for the 'ugly' house, the unstaged one or the one on a tricky street.
And that's just what we did.

We bought a place on a main road, but it's the one part of said road which narrows to two lanes. There's a bus which runs up and down it but otherwise it's a great spot. We are within walking distance to our current neighbourhood, but also super close to a few others we love to frequent. The subway and streetcar routes are all nearby, we have parking and a cute backyard. That tree, my friends, is a granny smith apple tree with a delicious graft. You have to love buying a house from Italian stock, lots of fun things like apple trees and miles and miles of concrete under that snow!

We sent our agent off with our bid, expecting a call from him hours later asking us to increase our bid only to lose the property at the end of it. There were still 7 offers on this place, busy street and all, it's that kind of market. Instead we received a call less than an hour in to the bidding process to say we'd got it.

Honestly, it took a week for that information to sink in. Totally poleaxed.
So here are some more photos of our funny little house.

We've spent the past month or so wading the craziness of building permits and builders' quotes but the wounds from that experience are still too raw for me to write about just yet. The good news is that the demo should commence shortly and I'll have lots of fun photos to share.

Yes, that's ANOTHER kitchen upstairs. Very common in this city, can't wait for the sledge hammer to swing in this room!
Our budget doesn't stretch to re-doing the bathroom which was recently 'updated'. So we're hitting it with as much paint as we can manage. Phase one of that process is getting close to completion. Will do a post about it soon, but here's a good before shot...

What's not to love?! The pale salmon-coloured tiles, the broken shower fixture, the timber cabinets. Ooh, and the nipple light! There's a few of these crazy ceiling fixtures in the house and they are soon to be gone, baby.

That's all for now. Just wanted to formally start blogging about the housey-house.
I'm finally feeling excited about the renos. Trying not to thinking about the money slipping through our fingers, as it will begin to cascade soon enough. We are employing professionals to do the work on this house. But we'll do the painting. And that's going to take aeons. Lucky we like painting. No doubt I'll be cursing that statement soon enough.

To distract myself from the decision-making stress I've been having way too much fun on Pinterest and buying lashings of paint. Click over here if you want to check out any of my Pinterest boards regarding the house. There's a bunch of them.

Gotta go play Labyrinth with my kid. Do you have that game? We love it (thanks to Aunty Lindsay for buying it for Poppet's birthday). You can check it out here.

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