The Chase: a first-time buyer finds her dream downtown condo in under a week

The Chase: a first-time buyer finds her dream downtown condo in under a week

The Chase: a first-time condo buyer finds that doing her homework really pays offThe buyer: Natalie Pastuszak, a 28-year-old marketing associate.

The story: Pastuszak was sharing a home with her mother in Etobicoke and suffering an hour-long commute to and from the Financial District. “I was just going from one underground parking lot to another,” she says. “I wasn’t even going outside.” Two years ago, she finally decided to move downtown. She’d watched rents skyrocket and figured owning wouldn’t be much more expensive, so she started poring over MLS listings and researching condos online. By last summer, her finances were in order and she was ready to begin looking in earnest. Her dream place was a sunny one-bedroom suite with a terrace and an on-site gym for no more than $300,000—and it had to be within walking distance of work. (She was especially drawn to the eating and drinking scene on King West.) Thanks to her homework, it took only five days of condo hunting before she got exactly what she wanted.

The Chase: Queens Quay West (at Bathurst)OPTION 1
Queens Quay West (at Bathurst). Listed at $289,900, sold privately.
The one-bedroom, southwest-facing unit was bright, had a balcony and was within her budget. Though it was walking distance to work, she didn’t love the location. She was surprised at how segregated it felt on Queens Quay. And the amenities seemed dated: the gym was small with old machines, and the common spaces felt worn and neglected. She decided not to bid.

The Chase: Wellington Street West (at Spadina)OPTION 2
Wellington Street West (at Spadina). Listed at $312,000, relisted at $280,900, sold for $284,800.
Pastuszak had noticed the building both for its location—less than a 10-minute walk to work—and because she liked the idea of living in a combined condo and hotel. She’d have access to the hotel’s upscale gym, pool and restaurant. But this unit faced onto another building, and she felt it wasn’t worth the asking price.

The Chase: Wellington Street West (at Spadina)

Wellington Street West (at Spadina). Listed at $284,900, sold for $280,900.
Less than 24 hours after Pastuszak had walked away from the last unit, another condo came up for sale in the same building. She loved it. The layout was identical to the condo she had just seen, but this unit was better: it faced the street, got more sunlight and was listed at a more reasonable price—proving to her that the other one had been overvalued by its owners. Excited to have found a suite in a building she already liked, Pastuszak bid on it the day she saw it. Her offer was accepted the next day. She says living downtown is natural. “Once I moved in, it didn’t feel like a big step. It feels like I was meant to be here,” she says. The best part is that she rarely visits the parking garage—her short daily commute now takes her outside.