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Tag Archives: renovations

Roncesvalles house is among the best — and worst — on market

Dilapidated home expected to go for close to $800,000, yet needs half of that in renovations.

Susan Pigg – Toronto Star

The towering brick house on Galley Ave. has the dubious distinction of being among the best — and absolute worst — houses for sale in Toronto right now.

It’s grand in both size and location: a five-bedroom, three-storey detached house within an easy stroll of sought-after Roncesvalles Village.

Realtor Chander Chaddah, who listed the home for $649,900 and has set a 4 p.m. Wednesday deadline for offers, is brutally frank with anyone thinking they’ve tripped across a big bargain.

“Please leave the kids at home when coming for a visit,” Chaddah warns right on the MLS listing. “Not for the faint of heart.”

145 Galley Ave Kitchen
The furnace hasn’t worked in years. Windows are missing. The roof needs replacing. The wiring is knob and tube.

Yet hundreds of curious folks — many of them desperate to get a toehold in the Toronto market — have fought back their shock the last few days and scaled the steep stairs to the third floor, past the peeling faux-wood wainscotting, the soot-smeared kitchen and the bathroom where plastic, duct tape and thumbtacks lost their battle long ago against a badly leaking roof.

(It could have been much worse if it wasn’t for kindly neighbours who got the elderly resident help and then filled two massive renovation bins with mouldy contents before she and her daughter put it up for sale.)

Comment: What truly horrifies me is that some poor old dear was living in that mess. How do the elderly fall through the cracks like that?

The house needs a gutting and about $400,000 in renovations to remove the layers of soot spewed from kerosene heaters used to keep the place warm in winter.

Comment: I think that would only make it liveable. To make it nice? Probably double that.

Realtors are warning clients the house could go for $750,000 to $800,000, given that spiffed-up neighbours have sold for well over $1 million.

Comment: As of this posting, it sold for $803,649. Crazy…

“We may get more than a dozen offers here,” says Chaddah, in the wake of a 32-person bidding war that recently drove a Junction Triangle home to $210,000 over the $639,900 asking price.

“There are two types of houses that have the potential to blow the roof off in this market — the (renoed showcase) Martha Stewart house and the other end of the spectrum, Galley Ave., which is raw and needs everything.”

What makes homes like this particularly unpredictable is that they will draw two competing buyers: “End users” willing to spend what it takes to put down roots in desirable neighbourhoods close to the core, and contractors searching for increasingly rare raw material in the city, rundown houses in need of saviours.

“There was a time when you could go in houses like this every week,” says Chaddah, a Toronto realtor for almost 30 years. “Now these houses are few and far between.”

Comment: Because many know to fix them up before they sell them, make good money. This just proves that you can sell anything for a big bag of money.

145 Galley Ave Bathroom
The old real estate axiom “location, location, location” doesn’t mean what it used to in a Toronto market that’s become a magnet for young professionals and families looking to ease their commute to work.

“Now we’re seeing there really are no bad locations in Toronto. There are just some locations that are more desirable than others,” says east-end realtor Desmond Brown.

Designer Alex El-Asfahani and her contractor brother Oliver Wigington have turned their passion for properties in need of a complete gut and a critical eye into both a business model and a spectator sport via the Facebook site for their year-old company, ModernKind Inc.

So far, they have bought, renovated and sold two east-end homes — one on Ivy Ave., the other on Ashdale Ave. — and are finishing a third home, on Logan Ave., which will go on the market in April.

“We don’t like to think of ourselves as flippers, what we do is transform houses,” says El-Asfahani, who believes breathing life into overlooked homes breathes new life into whole neighbourhoods, too.

Comment: Nice try, but what you do is called flipping. Nothing wrong with it, but be honest.

She admits it is a risky strategy — one that makes even her realtor nervous: “I’m just looking for houses that have soul. I think we’re at the point in the city where the dream home … is eroding because there are fewer and fewer homes that can offer all that in (what’s considered) a great area.”

Comment: It is a dangerous game, a lot of people are out there looking for cheap, run down houses. Either to reno and live in, or fix and flip.

But renovating is no bargain, El-Asfahani stresses, part of the reason she and her brother post many of the gritty ups and downs of their renos on Facebook.

They paid over $600,000 for the Ivy Ave. house, in the Greenwood and Gerrard St. E. area, when you factor in land transfer and other upfront fees. It cost well over $265,000 to rebuild from the inside out.

But it drew so many interested buyers, many of whom had never been to the east-end neighbourhood before, it sold for a price that shocked even their realtor — $912,000 — a record for the area.

Comment: And for that they would have made very little. Even if they paid only $600,000 for it, the land transfer tax would have been $16,200. Add in the $265,000 reno cost. We are now at $881,200. Likely they paid their agent 1%, plus 2.5% to the buyer’s agent – $34,851.46 including HST. When I add it all up, I get $916,051.46 – which means they lost over $4,000 on this house. And they said they paid OVER $600,000 for the house, so the real amount is more. Someone is wrong with their numbers somewhere… Even if we credit them $20,000, then they might have made $10,000 on it. This, my friends, is why flipping is a dangerous business!

Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.