Rent to own: chasing the perfect Little Italy home for two 24-year-olds

Rent to own: chasing the perfect Little Italy home for two 24-year-olds

Making the leap from basement apartment to home—with a little help from Mom and Dad

The Buyers: Hélène Furlotte-Bois and her boyfriend, Rory Hayes.

The Story: Hélène (at far right) and Rory, who are both 24 and work at a student travel agency, wanted an upgrade from their basement rental. Hélène’s mom, Lise Bois (at right), came up with the home ownership scheme. “I didn’t want to see them throw away $1,500 in rent every month,” Lise says. She and her husband, Darrel Furlotte, who run a home daycare, offered to loan the couple $150,000 for a down payment on a house with rental space—the extra income would pay off the loan and mortgage. Lise searched, mostly near the family home at Clinton and College, and made a short list for Hélène. Then Rory checked out Hélène’s top pick. The search took less than two weeks. “My mom gets pretty determined when she wants to do something,” Hélène says.

Manning Avenue, between College and Harbord. Listed at $699,000, sold for $660,000.
Split into three apartments, this two-and-a-half-storey home was cramped and filthy, and would need a complete overhaul to attract the kind of tenants Hélène wanted. “It smelled like lobster, and not in a good way,” she says. Her mother was also appalled, and they quickly left.

Ulster Street, near College and Bathurst. Listed at and sold for $729,999.
At first they were lured by the hardwood floors, bay windows and second-floor balcony. But the only full bathroom for a first-floor tenant was in the unfinished basement. An odd, tunnel-like layout, combined with a cheaply renovated kitchen, convinced them to keep looking.

Crawford Street, between College and Dundas. Listed at $689,000, sold for $655,000.
As soon as they saw the high ceilings, original hardwood and big backyard (they have two dogs), they knew this was it. The house was already split into two apartments, and the upstairs unit was bright and airy enough to attract a substantial rent. It’s a great location (near two streetcar routes, a grocery store and Trinity Bellwoods park) and a 10-minute walk from Hélène’s parents’ place. “The kitchen is large and sunny. Since Rory’s the cook, that was the sell for him,” says Hélène. Their first offer—$655,000—was accepted, and after a month of renos (they gutted the basement and made some minor improvements to the kitchen), they moved in.

(Bois and Furlotte-Bois by John Cullen; Houses by Kevin Meikle)