The Chase: two consultants brave a blind bid process for a home in Kensington Market
The buyer: Diana Wong and Avnish Babla, both 30-year-old management consultants.
The story: Wong and Babla first met at Western in 2009. They were in the same MBA program, but they almost never talked on campus. They kept running into each other in Toronto, where they both moved after graduating, and soon enough they were dating. When they got engaged in December 2011, they decided to buy a house together. They wanted three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a yard—and, at first, were adamant about staying downtown (or at least within spitting distance of downtown and on a transit line). But their $500,000 budget made that nearly impossible. They were willing to expand their search zone and to do some renovating (Babla worked in construction throughout university, so he wasn’t afraid to do the work himself). What they didn’t predict was how much more money they would have to spend to get what they wanted.
Cloverlawn Avenue (near St. Clair and Oakwood). Listed at $439,000, sold for $554,111.
This 2,000-square-foot place had only one bathroom, but the yard was big and there was a dry basement they could finish. Wong and Babla liked the restaurants along the Corso Italia strip and the proximity to the St. Clair streetcar line. They knew it was priced low to spur a bidding war, so they offered $500,000 and felt good about it. The house went for over $550,000.
Perth Avenue (at Dupont). Listed at $469,000, sold for $469,000.
Babla and Wong weren’t familiar with the Junction, but they’d heard the area was up-and-coming and were willing to give it a shot—just not in this house. The walls looked like they were rotting, the floors were slanted and the basement floors leaked so profusely that the owner had installed a pump to get rid of the excess water. They didn’t bother to bid.
Wales Avenue (near Bathurst and Dundas). Listed at $460,000, sold for $550,100.
The couple were surprised when they saw a listing for a three-bedroom row house within their budget in Kensington Market. It was small (1,200 square feet) and needed a lot of work—the lime-green ’50s kitchen had to be replaced, and there was only one bathroom—but the structure was sound. To snag it, they’d have to go in high, especially since they were facing a one-time blind bid process. They were prepared to offer $550,000, and at the last minute their agent suggested they tack on an extra $100, just in case. Their offer was accepted—clinched by exactly that $100. After four months of renovations, they managed to have the home mostly ready before their wedding day.