The Chase: She wasn’t planning on buying a house—until she did

The Chase: She wasn’t planning on buying a house—until she did

Wylie Burke. Photograph by Erin Leydon

The buyer: Wylie Burke, the 41-year-old director of the learning institute at Hincks-Dellcrest Centre, a children’s mental health facility in Toronto.

The story: Wylie had been living in a one-bedroom apartment in High Park for five years, paying $1,120 per month in rent, when she started to think about buying. She figured a condo would best suit her single-income budget, but her sister, who owns two investment properties, insisted that a house was a better purchase. As an experiment, Wylie agreed to a one-day search near the Bloorcourt area, where her family lives. Her plan was to look at five properties and later see what they sold for. She wasn’t going to make any offers, but, for the purpose of the experiment, she set a budget of $650,000. She’d need help with her mortgage payments, so a separate basement apartment was a must.

Option 1

Dennis Avenue (near Eglinton and Weston). Listed at $599,000, sold for $701,000.
Wylie was taken with the first property she saw: a detached house with three bedrooms. It was recently renovated, but she wanted a place she could fix up herself. It didn’t help that this one was in Mount Dennis, a long way away from her target neighbourhood.

Option 2

Norman Avenue (near St. Clair and Caledonia). Listed at $599,900, sold for $633,800.
This three-bedroom semi was closer to Bloor West, and it had a rental unit in the basement—albeit one with a strong mouldy smell. The sellers were taking bids the next day. Even if Wylie had wanted to make an offer, there would have been no time for her to bring in an inspector.

The buy

Brad Street (near Dundas and Dupont). Listed for $699,000, sold for $688,000.
The houses Wylie liked were either too remote or too expensive. Then she saw an unusual listing: a two-bedroom semi that had been on and off the market for two months. The wallpaper was jaundiced from tobacco smoke, the floors had a slant and the roof had been shoddily repaired. Wylie hired an inspector, who said that fixing the place wouldn’t be that costly. She bought the house for $11,000 under asking and sunk $30,000 into renovations. She has since moved in and is expecting her first tenants in the spring.

The Hunt