How a family found house hunting serenity by selling off their old property first

How a family found house hunting serenity by selling off their old property first

The buyers: Michael Krauss, a 52-year-old cinematographer; his wife, Lhara Eben, a 46-year-old writer, actor and producer; and their nine-year-old son, Oliver.

The story: Lhara and Michael were living in a Dupont and Spadina semi that they’d inherited from Lhara’s parents, who bought it in 1974 as an investment property. They adored the kid-friendly neighbourhood, but the heavy traffic on Dupont made it dangerous for Oliver to play outside. They decided to look for a place on a quiet side street somewhere nearby. Before they set out, they sold the Dupont house, which gave them the luxury of knowing exactly what they could afford to spend on a new home. Their initial budget was $1.25 million.

Option 1

Yarmouth Road (near Ossington and Dupont). Listed for $679,900, sold for $830,000.
Lhara and Michael considered a few teardown properties, like this two-bedroom detached house. The interior was dark and dingy, and the air inside was stale, as though something had died in the basement. On the plus side, it had a garage, which was on their wish list, and the ­asking price was low enough that they figured they’d have cash left for construction. Though the house was just slightly west of their target area, they bid $800,000. They were prepared to make a higher counteroffer, but they never got the chance. The next thing they knew, the place had sold for $30,000 more.

Option 2

Melville Avenue (near Christie and Dupont). Listed for $899,900, sold for $1,300,000.
This four-bedroom Victorian semi was last renovated in the 1980s, and it was in need of work, which seemed to be in progress: the second-storey walls were nothing but blue Styrofoam. But the house had some good features, including high ceilings, a spacious garage and a rentable basement apartment (also on the wish list). There were nine other bidders, so Lhara and Michael decided not to mess around. They went all in at $1,230,000. Unfortunately, they weren’t the only ones determined to find a place in the area. In the end, they lost out by $70,000.

The buy

Clinton Street (near Christie and Bloor). Listed for $799,000, sold for $991,000.
This three-bedroom semi was solidly within their preferred neighbourhood, plus it had a garage, and it was a three-minute walk from Oliver’s school. The house wasn’t a teardown, but Lhara and Michael figured they’d need to do a major overhaul to boost the interior square footage and extend the basement. After three rounds of bidding, they won by a very slim margin of $15,000. They rented a friend’s place for the summer while construction crews started tearing the place apart. So far they’ve expanded the kitchen and added space for a gym and playroom. Many other changes are underway.

The Hunt