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The Chase: How one couple found their starter home downtown

Ben and Naomi were living 50 kilometres apart, and seeing each other meant two hours on public transit. So they set out to find a condo in the core and move in together

By Ali Amad| Photography by Claudine Baltazar
The Chase: How one couple found their starter home downtown

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The Chase: This condo dweller always wanted a house. When the market cooled, she pounced
Real Estate

The Chase: This condo dweller always wanted a house. When the market cooled, she pounced

The buyers: Ben Ho Lung, 25, a marketing coordinator, and Naomi Nguyen, 26, a pharmacist.

The story: Last summer, Ben was living with his mother in Aurora, Naomi was renting an apartment in Danforth Village and neither of them had a car, so seeing each other meant braving two hours of public transit. With about $120,000 in combined savings, the couple thought they finally had a shot at breaking into the market. So, in September, they set a $650,000 budget and began looking for a condo close to Naomi’s work downtown. Also on their wish list: a big kitchen for Ben—an avid cook—as well as a den he could use as an office.


Option 1: Rolling Mills Road, near Front and Cherry

Listed at: $693,000 Sold for: $673,000

A one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit in the Canary District

The first place Ben and Naomi viewed was a one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit in the Canary District. Its location was outstanding: a family-focused area with the waterfront less than a 15-minute walk away. It came with a den for Ben’s office and a 260-square-foot private terrace, and maintenance fees were ­a reasonable $526 per month. But the interior was only 600 square feet, and the kitchen lacked counter space. It was also beyond their budget, and they were curious to see if the market could offer something better, so they moved on.


Option 2: Sumach Street, near Dundas and River

Listed at: $650,000 Unsold

A one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo at One Park Place, a new build in Regent Park overlooking the neighbourhood’s park and aquatic centre

In late October, the couple found this one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo at One Park Place, a new build in Regent Park overlooking the neighbourhood’s park and aquatic centre. It was 700 square feet, with a large kitchen as well as a den and a balcony. Those extras didn’t come cheap, though. The place was listed at their $650,000 ceiling, and maintenance fees were $618 per month. They also preferred to be closer to the subway system, and Naomi wasn’t sold on the neighbourhood. The couple kept looking without making an offer.


The buy: Bay Street, near Gerrard

Listed at: $629,900 Sold for: $629,900

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A one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo right on Bay, near Gerrard

In November, Ben and Naomi saw this one-bedroom, one-bathroom spot right on Bay. It checked all their boxes, plus it was a 20-minute streetcar ride from Naomi’s work. As a bonus, utilities were included in the $611 maintenance fees. There was no balcony, but given the selling price, Ben and Naomi were willing to compromise. Aware that there were three other showings scheduled for the following day, they offered the listing price and a 30-day close. That sealed it: they moved in this past December and plan to live there for years to come.

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