The Chase: They spent $1.35 million on a house they’d never seen in person

The Chase: They spent $1.35 million on a house they’d never seen in person

Portrait by Erin Leydon

The buyers: Megh Gupta, a 35-year-old tech investor, and his wife, Jessica, a 33-year-old brand consultant at a tech company.

The story: Megh and Jessica were diehard downtowners, with jobs on Bay Street and a two-bedroom rental condo near Fort York. They were happy with their living situation, but, like practically all other renters in Toronto, they wanted a foothold in the housing market before they were priced out forever—and not just any foothold. Their hearts were set on a detached house, ideally with reliable TTC access and shops and restaurants within walking distance, all for under $1.3 million. In February 2016, they got an agent. They didn’t have any particular neighbourhood in mind, so they started poring over listings from High Park to the Beaches.

Option 1

Logan Avenue (near Danforth). Listed at $1,100,000, sold for $1,503,000.
This five-bedroom North Riverdale home was an eight-minute walk from Pape subway station, and its list price was $200,000 less than what they hoped to spend. But the state of the interior gave them pause. The wiring was knob-and-tube and the kitchen was old and in serious need of a complete gutting and remodelling. A listing agent euphemistically described the condition of the property as “ready for your design vision,” but Megh and Jessica weren’t interested in pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into a makeover. They didn’t put in an offer, and the house ended up selling for $403,000 over asking.

Option 2

Clendenan Avenue (near Bloor and High Park). Listed at $1,150,000, sold for $1,200,000.
Three months into their search, Megh and Jessica had fruitlessly visited some 80 homes, but this was the first they’d seen in High Park North. They loved the neighbourhood’s mature trees and quiet, suburban atmosphere. The house itself had three bedrooms, a spacious backyard and a basement with plenty of rental potential. Megh crunched some numbers and figured their maximum bid would have to be $1.18 million, to leave room for upgrades. On the second round of offers, they went all in—but it wasn’t quite enough. Ultimately, they were outbid by just $20,000.

The buy

Evelyn Avenue (near Bloor and High Park). Listed for $1,380,000, sold for $1,350,000.
In late August, the Guptas left for a European holiday. Then, on their third day away, they saw a listing for a four-bedroom home about 450 metres from the Clendenan property. They were on the Amalfi Coast a week later when Megh noticed the house still hadn’t sold. They got some family members to check it out for them, then asked their agent to give them a tour via FaceTime. From what they could tell by squinting at an iPhone, it seemed great—so they offered $30,000 under asking. At 3 a.m. Italy time, they got an email saying the place was theirs.

The Hunt