Welcome to our November 2017 Home of the Month! This feature provides a snapshot of what urbaneer.com's Buyers have recently purchased in the City of Toronto.
This month’s buy - navigated by urbaneer team member James Ormston - shares the tale of a move which occurred because of circumstance, rather than by choice. When our clients endeavoured to install an electric vehicle charger near their underground parking spot (at their own expense - in their reputable 'house-in-the-sky' Don Mills condominium complex) their efforts were met with confusion and resistance by the condominium board. After pressing the board to move towards a solution without success, our electric vehicle owners became resigned to the fact that they needed to find a new residence with a secure private garage to house the electric vehicle and a charger. It's a bit shocking really, that a condominium corporation in this day and age wouldn't be more proactive in accommodating these early adopters of a new technology - especially when they were willing to foot the cost. In an era of growing environmental awareness - and electric automobiles (over 2 million globally) - surely it won't be long until the installation of charging stations in underground condominium garages will be a legal requirement. This was an opportunity for the condominium corporation to lead by example, rather than resist! How unfortunate!
These empty nesters, enjoying the fruits of their retirement are much like many other Canadians, who have different homes for the seasons. While they reside here only for a month or two each year, their seasonal home in Toronto serves principally to nurture their connection to family who also reside in the City. So much like the condominium, their wish list for their next purchase included a safe, well-established neighbourhood offering greenspace and shopping. They also wanted proximity to the highways to offer a speedy connection to cottage country, the Toronto International Airport, and family.
Spanning a fairly significant geography aligned with Highway 401, our clients considered several townhouses which fit the practicalities of their housing profile, though each had its shortcomings. Casting the net fairly wide, despite the tangible check-marks of suitability, none of the available properties captured their hearts. Perhaps it was a reflection of the ubiquitous sameness endemic to townhouse complexes built since 2000 in this part of Toronto, which tend to be dressed in faux stone and plastic gingerbread. Copying the architectural pastiches of yesteryear with a Disneyesque flourish, there's a certain placelessness in these domestic fortresses which are hard to connect with when one has lived, like our clients did for several decades, in a mid-century modern Don Mills dwell. Our clients continued their quest.
As is often the case during a property search the more one sees, the more one is able to identify what doesn't meet the initial criteria. This can prompt a reassessment of what the next move truly represents. After some reflection and collective counsel, our couple began to consider how their future might look in their elder years, which makes sense. As we navigate how we might age-in-place it's critical to assess our strategy to live in our own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level. This includes reconciling potential issues of mobility, as well as ease of access to family, services and amenities. Which is how our Buyers recognized there might be merit in merging their Toronto residence with their son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, who owned their own house downtown. By selling two properties to acquire a larger property that offered a space plan well-suited to multi-generations, they could integrate collective support, nurture familial bonds, while retaining some independence.
This isn't a new phenomenon, but it is experiencing a resurgence. In 1940, pre-WWII, about one-quarter of the population lived with three or more generations in one home, a trend which began to decline in the 60's and 70's, reaching an all-time low in 1980. Now it's on the rise again in Canada, in part due to our ageing baby boomer population and our sky-rocketing house prices. Did you know that, "between 2001 and 2016, multi-generational households were the fastest-growing household type in Canada, increasing by 38% to reach nearly 404,000 homes?" ( - 2016 Canadian Census.) For more insights on how this is playing out in Toronto, read our recent blog called 'How Demographics Affect Toronto Real Estate'.
It was at this point in our journey that an interesting detached triplex property on a generously sized lot was listed on Gerrard Street East which captured the attention of our family. After ensuring it could fit their needs, the dwelling seemed to hold significant promise, having an upper two-level 3 bedroom 3 bath suite which could work well for the son and his family, and a main and lower level suite which could accommodate the parents.
Although the property was situated on a generous lot, it did not have an existing garage, which was a must-have for our clients. We counselled them that purchasing the property would require taking on the risk that the ability to construct a new garage would be subject to city approvals, which could not be obtained for several months until after they'd secured the property and submitted plans and drawings. The best we could do to satisfy its feasibility entailed determining what potential road blocks existed that might prevent them from getting approvals to build a two car garage. Our clients decided to proceed with an offer to purchase the property conditional on due diligence, which we successfully secured on their behalf.
And then the twists and turns began! As we explored the possibility of building a garage, our engagement with the City's Planning Department uncovered some significant problems with the property. To our surprise and dismay, the Seller had constructed the multiple dwelling units without permits, and made improvements which did not conform to existing zoning. The property had already been flagged by the city as a result. Unfortunately none of this information was disclosed to our Buyers. Had this been left unchecked - and our Buyers failed to purchase the appropriate Title Insurance upon closing - it could have resulted in a significant legal and financial quagmire. Instead, we attempted to renegotiate the terms of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, putting the onus on the Seller to remedy the deficiencies in advance of closing.
Ultimately, the seller of this property realized the potential risks to both themselves and to any prospective buyer, electing to collapse the sale and withdraw the property from the market until they could resolve the issues with the city. Although dismayed - but also quite relieved and very thankful - our clients continued their search for a more suitable property. After a busy summer of work and family activities - and about a year after their property search initially began - a remarkable and unique single family home was listed that prompted our buyers to be smitten!
Situated in Scarborough's Highland Creek neighbourhood on a 100' wide lot that backs onto a deep wooded ravine replete with babbling brook and towering mature willow trees, this circa 1950 move-in ready single family home offered true one-level living convenience for each generation of our extended family - a 3 bed 2 bath main floor suite for the son and his family - and a sun-drenched ground level garden access suite tailor-made for his parents - including a luxe master suite with spa bath, two gas fireplaces, a spacious living area and an ideal bijou kitchen area (with laundry!) well suited for breakfasting and light meal preparations. With walkouts to the multi-level professionally landscaped and fenced rear garden with picnic and barbecue area, hot tub, swimming pool and separate kid's play zone - the design offered true versatile multi-generational domestic bliss along with sufficient space and flexibility for future care options! And - featuring an attached two-car garage with 200 amp upgraded electrical service - it was the ideal solution to securely accommodate and charge two electric vehicles. Truly a housing home run on all fronts!
Take a look at these snaps from the MLS listing of this multi-generational swell dwell!
*Courtesy of the Multiple Listings Service.
Congratulations to our Buyers!
Listed at $1,489,000, our Buyers secured the property over one other interested party after two rounds of bidding, for just a notch above the list price. Isn't it gorgeous?
While homes that are equipped to handle more than one family still only make up a minor percentage of Canada's housing stock, buyer demand has incited a steep increase multi-gen housing construction. But not all would-be downsizers are choosing to purchase new builds; renovating an existing home to accomodate another family is a rising market trend as well. Here's a great article from the Globe about how architects Jana Levitt and Dean Goodman rethinking (and rebuilding) the family home to make it last for generations: 'Architecture For The Ages'. And for more on adaptive housing options, check out 'Architecture For Affordability In Canada' on Houseporn.ca.
Have question about buying or renovating multi-gen real estate? We're here to help!
Serving first, second and multi-time buyers, young families, down-scaling Zoomers, renovators and those building their investment property portfolios, our mandate is to help our clients strategically secure the best real estate on offer, while ensuring their purchase best serves their practical needs and their dream of 'Home'. We identify a property's best qualities, features and insouciant charm in the context of the future target market while meeting your own wishes, wants and desires.
If you, or someone you love, has specific real estate needs, wishes and desires, and would enjoy the personalized service of The Urbaneer Team, including Urbaneer's Purveyor Steve Fudge who is Celebrating Twenty-Five Years As A Top-Producing Toronto Realtor, please know we subscribe to a pressure-free approach - with a specialty in unique urban homes! We are here to help!
The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage - (416) 322-8000
earn your trust, then your business
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** Did you Urbaneer.com's proprietor Steve Fudge leads a Student Mentorship and Internship Program for Canadians being educated in the field of housing? Consider visiting our sister site called Houseporn.ca