Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Buying a house in Toronto - Part II

After a few weeks of driving around and getting a feel for price ranges for neighbourhoods, we called up the Agents we worked with last year. They're a husband and wife sales team, great people, and parents of a friend at work. The tag team duo works well because they split up in the mornings to cover more ground. By mid-afternoon, they've narrowed the search down to a few good candidates. There's a whole range of emotions that you go through with each house, and each one is wildly different. On the outside, some look like solid homes with lots of potential, but the inside fill you with terror that they'll collapse at any second. But the personal favourite are the houses that have that 15 degree slant to them, and the brand new kitchen they've installed to distract you from the slant has been custom fit on that angle. What we didn't expect, was that we would find a house we liked on the first night out. In fact, it was the second house we looked at. It was a detached three bedroom with formal dining and living rooms and finished basement, built in 1913. It had amazing character, completely rennovated to retain the original charm of the home and within our price range. Only drawback: it was a bit further north than we were accustomed to, in a neighbourhood we weren't crazy about, and no parking. Everything we looked at after that, was compared to this home. We went back for a second look, and aside from the neighborhood, we were sold. Another house, a few blocks south, was the complete opposite in character and charm. It was probably 65 years old but the owner worked in construction. He had spent the last 13 years rebuilding the house from the inside out, and had furnished it with top of line everything. On top of having a laneway in the back, he had build a two car garage with ten foot ceilings-- an oddity in the Toronto market. The craziest part of the house was the fact that the current owner's tastes were ... how to put it... ok, awful. The house was uncomfortablely crammed with tasteless junk, almost garish, and it made it difficult to see the value in the home. A few days later, convinced we were interested in the old farm house, we took the Friday off and spent the morning driving around in the neighbourhood. There's lots of construction in the neighbourhood, new condos and townhomes going in -- the neighbourhood is sure to change over the next five years, but still, we weren't convinced. Lori wants to have kids, and she couldn't picture herself taking the stroller out by herself. We were out of town for the weekend, and gave us some time to think about it. The more we thought about it, the old farm house would eventually need work, and somethings just weren't going to change.... ... could we trade the warm detached farm house filled with books and landscaped perrenial gardens for the garrishly decorated semi (complete with disco ball) and two car garage?