I know, I know, last time I was posted was…well, not just last month but last year. But there really hadn’t been much to talk about. I’ve been in a knitting slump, so nothing report on that front. With the winter being as cold and snowy as it has been, and with the province being in total lockdown since Boxing Day, I’ve barely been out of the house. (Okay, to be honest, I’ve rarely been out of the house since last March.)
Until last week, that is. And, I must admit, technically we broke the lockdown rules. But for a good reason.
Big announcement: My eldest son and daughter-in-law are having another baby. He/She is expected to arrive at the end of May. No, they don’t know the gender yet. The little tyke didn’t cooperate during the 20 week ultrasound and they don’t plan on doing another any time soon.
So they made the momentous and very hard-thought-out decision to sell their teeny tiny house and move to something better.
Backstory: They bought their current house five years ago for $150,000. It made a record for the city’s lowest priced house. It was also probably the smallest house for sale that year too. It was built in 1924 and was probably originally just a shed that has been added onto twice since. Plus it’s not in a great part of town, though the area is starting to see some signs of gentrification as speculators move into the area. It is about 800 square feet and has no basement; it’s wood framed sitting directly on soil, not cement. Which is not good for withstanding Canadian winters. It’s cold all the time, and worse critters can easily enter through the dirt beneath and up through holes for waterpipes etc, which with the closing of a lot of nearby restaurants last summer meant they were inundated with very hungry rats. But it cost them half of what they would have had to pay to rent a place the same size. In fact when they bought it their real estate agent said they could have rented it out even then for $1400 a month, that’s how bad rents are around here. But the land size is decent at 30’X118’. And it gave them room for their two shepherds to play in the backyard. Best yet they could afford to live in it on a single salary as he went back to college. Now however, they are both working and have twin one-year-olds and another baby on the way so have totally outgrown it and need something better.
Our housing market is insane right now. A standard basic house in Toronto costs over $1 million dollars. One house that’s very similar to my son and daughter-in-law’s house was up for sale in Toronto last August and was listed for a $1,000,000. It ended up selling for $1.8 million! Then, in fall of 2020, a lot of Toronto companies decided that they could operate remotely 100% of the time so they let their leases for their rented offices expire. Which by January 2021 sent a tidal wave of Torontonians to seek housing in the cheaper environs.
Like the city we live in.
The trouble with this is, in the words of my son and DIL’s real estate agent, it has created a false bubble because the demand far exceeds the supply, sending house prices crazy high and also making it impossible for local folks (who are paid less than those in Toronto) to buy affordable housing in their own backyard. Houses that are listed for $474,000 are suddenly getting 20+ offers and selling for $710K. (Yes, that is an actual case of a bungalow in a small town about 90 minutes north-east of Toronto sold for just this week. A house we looked at last week and they thought they might put an offer in for.)
According to their agent, if they had sold their house just last September they would have been lucky to get a $250K offer on it, because basically whoever buys it would need to demolish the house and start again, so they’re essentially just paying for the land. Yet two weeks ago, they put it up for sale with an asking price of $350,000. Even the real estate agent admitted to us that he was asking more than he figured they’d get. He told them to expect offers around $325K. But he also saw the signs of the sellers’ market and how crazy the prices were going and figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask a bit more. Turned out he knew what he was talking about.
It went up for sale on Tuesday. By Friday they had six offers in hand, and sold it for $455,000. (And yes, all six bidders were from Toronto and were buying just for the land and intended to tear down the current house. And rightly so in my humble opinion. The winner plans to put up an apartment building in that spot, BTW.) Anyway, it means that within five years my son and his wife accrued over $305,000 in equity on that little shitbox of a house.
So they spent last week viewing houses near and far that were listed within their budget. Since my DIL couldn’t take off any time from her work midweek, we accompanied our son to view five houses, complete with double masks, hand sanitizer and clipboards of notes of things we were to check out. (Boy, are cell phones with cameras and video capability ever handy for reviewing later!) Out of the five choices, there were two definite possibilities, though I wasn’t happy with either because it meant a long commute for my son and for us to visit them too. However, despite their listing prices (which were reasonable in December) they all sold for several hundred hundred dollars above listing. (Like the one I mention above.) Needless to say, my son & DIL (and we) were starting to panic that they may not find something within their price range in time.
However, last Friday their agent found a local house where a deal had just collapsed and got them in to see it. They put in an offer on Saturday. At just above asking price. From what I’m hearing, the listing agent was based in a city on the west side of Toronto and didn’t want to have to come back out to our side, and so he gave them a deal based on December’s market. If the listing agent had bothered to drive out to our town and re-list it, he could have had a bidding war on his hands and made the original owners an extra $150-200K. But he didn’t so my son and DIL and my grandbabies now have a new place to call home. One with three bedrooms, a beautiful newly renovated kitchen and bathroom and a finished basement. And no rat infestation.
And best of all for us, they’ll still be less than ten minutes away so we can continue to easily drop in to cuddle our grandbabies. All three of them.