Real Estate

Buy in Rosedale or Little Italy? One couple’s $700,000 real estate compromise leads them to the Annex

Buy in Rosedale or Little Italy? One couple's $700,000 real estate compromise leads them to the Annex
(Image: John Cullen; houses by Devin Jeffrey)

She wanted to buy in Rosedale. He didn’t. After an epic 10-month, 140-house search, they settled on a fixer-upper in the Annex

The buyers Matt Killen, a painter and high school art teacher, and Joanna Foster, a photographer, couldn’t agree on where to live. They had been renting an apartment north of Liberty Village, as well as an art studio on Ossington, but wanted a place large enough for an in-house studio. Killen suggested Little Italy, Seaton Village and Riverdale, all of which Foster nixed. She wanted Rosedale, the neighbourhood where she’d gone to school. “I pictured us in a house on a lush, tree-lined street safe for kids,” she says. They finally agreed on the Annex, which felt urban and central to Killen, yet cozy enough for Foster.

The criteria Three bedrooms, close to transit, with a rental unit. They preferred an older Victorian home, and it had to be north of Bloor, east of Bathurst and west of Yonge.

The budget $550,000–$700,000.

OPTION 1 Austin Terrace (near Bathurst); listed at $759,000, withdrawn from the market Killen and Foster saw the four-bedroom, four‑bathroom Hillcrest semi in the fall of 2008, when prices were dropping. They offered $109,000 below asking and were thrilled when the offer was accepted. They’d been told the deal was contingent on the sellers’ own purchase going through; when it didn’t, the sellers took it off the market. “It broke our hearts,” Foster says.
OPTION 2 Brunswick Avenue (near Dupont); listed at $859,000, sold for $870,000 By the spring of 2009, the couple had toured over 100 houses. “We looked at listings every week, but we could never reach a consensus,” says Killen. “Jo would fall in love with a place I didn’t like; then I’d get excited about a house she hated.” They upped their budget and began to consider fixer-uppers, such as this Annex four-bedroom in need of a new kitchen, a reno of the master suite and a bathroom relocation. They offered $840,000 but lost it to a higher bidder.
OPTION 3 Nesbitt Drive (near Governor’s Bridge); listed at $849,000, sold for $851,000 Killen was willing to overlook the location—on the outskirts of Rosedale, near the CPR tracks— for the modern design of this detached home. The property had a ready-made artist’s studio, a beautifully finished basement apartment and a large backyard. “Jo wanted it so much,” says Killen, “but $850,000 was our max.” They lost by only $1,000.
THE BUY Wells Street (near Bathurst); listed at $649,000, sold for $705,000 The next place was the polar opposite of the pristine Nesbitt Drive contemporary: a traditional Annex semi suffering from what Killen describes as “terrifyingly bizarre” renovations. (The basement in-wall wiring consisted entirely of extension cords.) But the price and location convinced them. “For $150,000 more, we could turn it into exactly what we wanted,” says Foster. They won a four-way bid by offering substantially over asking for the first time, shacked up with Foster’s parents for six months during the reno, and moved in last March.

(Image: Killen and Foster by John Cullen, houses by Devin Jeffrey)


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