Escape from Guelph: two 20-somethings tackle the Toronto condo market

Escape from Guelph: two 20-somethings tackle the Toronto condo market

The buyers
Ellaine Yusi and Csilla Bajari are banking officers with Scotiabank. When they met two years ago at the Guelph branch where they worked at the time, they were both living with their parents and feeling trapped. On New Year’s Day 2009, the friends drove to Toronto for dinner and resolved to apply for job transfers and buy a place together in the city before the year was out. Within a few months, they’d landed positions in the city and begun condo shopping (and commuting).

The dream
They wanted a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo—“Two girls cannot have one bathroom,” says Bajari—in the downtown core, but they expanded their search to North York when they realized how small and expensive downtown condos were.

The budget

920 Sheppard Ave. W. (near Allen Rd.); listed at $319,900, sold for $345,000
“It was love at first sight,” says Bajari: 1,100 square feet, with a semicircular living room and a wraparound balcony. They offered $326,000, then upped it to $339,000. An hour later, their agent, Michelle Read of Sutton Group, called to tell them they’d won it. “We were jumping up and down,” says Bajari. But they got outbid by a latecomer. Furious, they tore up the listing and threw it away.

5765 Yonge St. (near Finch); listed at $299,900, sold for $313,100
This place was five minutes from Yusi’s new office at the Yonge and Hillcrest branch, but it needed a new kitchen floor and a paint job. They were told there would be just one round of offers, and they bid $312,000. When the sellers asked for a second round, they walked. “I thought they were getting a little greedy at that point,” Bajari says.

55 Centre Ave. (near Yonge and Dundas); listed at $319,900, sold for $315,000
This one was on the 20th floor, with a spec­tacular view of the lake, and it was downtown, a huge plus. “But let me tell you,” says Bajari, “the pictures that real estate agents take are so deceiving.” The second bedroom was tiny, and, according to Yusi, “everything else was ghetto,” including stained carpets, dirty floor tiles and misaligned kitchen cabinetry.

25 Telegram Mews (near Spadina and Front); listed at $339,900, sold for $342,000
The amenities were great: a gym, rock-climbing wall, massage room, and a Sobey’s right downstairs. They’d seen the place a month earlier and had deemed it too small, but after viewing 15 places in two months, their size expectations had shifted. They bid $3,000 over asking, their offer was accepted, and they moved in on December 4, less than a month before their self-imposed deadline.

(Image: John Cullen, condos by Devin Jeffrey)