The Chase: a professional couple ditches their downtown condo for a house in Leaside

The Chase: a professional couple ditches their downtown condo for a house in Leaside

The Buyers: Viet Nguyen, a 35-year-old lawyer with Devry Smith Frank LLP, and Donna Chui, a 32-year-old veterinarian at Laird Eglinton Pet Hospital.

The Story: Nguyen and Chui signed the lease on their tiny one-bedroom condo at Simcoe and Richmond soon after their wedding in 2008. They loved the nearby restaurants and taking nightly walks along Queen West, but three years on, the place was beginning to feel cramped. They decided it was time to buy a house. The couple wanted a detached home with three bedrooms, two baths and parking. Chui had grown up in the burbs and longed for the space she had enjoyed as a kid, but Nguyen couldn’t stomach the idea of a long commute. As a compromise, they focused their house-hunting efforts in Leaside­—the neighbourhood was close to both of their jobs, and it offered lots of large houses, parks and walkable main streets with great shops and restaurants. They set their max (including reno budget) at $1 million and started a year-long, 70-house search.

Overland Drive (near Lawrence and Leslie). Listed at $749,900, sold for $780,000.
Though outside their ideal neighbourhood, this three-bedroom, two-bath house was still within biking distance of work. But after living in an open-concept condo, the couple found the home’s narrow hallways confining. They also worried that the place had been deliberately priced low to attract a bidding war, which would eat into their renovating budget, so they walked.

Broadway Avenue (at Laird). Listed at $547,000, sold for $625,000.
Nguyen and Chui noticed that most detached homes in Leaside sold for north of a million, so they relaxed their criteria to include semis. But at just under 1,000 square feet, this place wasn’t much bigger than their condo. Even with a low list price, the cost of adding a third bedroom and second bathroom seemed daunting. The couple decided not to bid.

Brentcliffe Road (at Eglinton). Listed at $699,000, sold for $736,888.
After missing the open house, the couple’s agent, Brandon Ware of Private Service Realty, arranged for a private viewing of this three-bedroom, 1,300-square-foot semi. While many of the homes they’d seen in the neighbourhood were shockingly outdated, this one had new hardwood floors, a reno’d kitchen and an open-concept layout. Nguyen and Chui were still skeptical about living in a semi, but the day after the viewing, Nguyen knocked on their potential neighbours’ door. They assured him that the shared wall was soundproof, the roof was new and previous owners had taken good care of the place. All initial offers were rejected; for the second round of bidding, the couple went in high at $736,888 (eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture), and the house was theirs.

(Image: Couple by John Cullen)