The Chase: twin sisters take a chance on a bargain-basement fixer-upper

The Chase: twin sisters take a chance on a bargain-basement fixer-upper

(Portrait by Erin Leydon)

The buyers: 29-year-old twins Jennifer Carroll, a health-care product reviewer, and Krista Carroll, a municipal project manager for Peel Region.

The story: In the fall of 2013, Krista moved home to Toronto from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where she’d been working for an NGO. Unsure about her next steps, she crashed at her twin sister’s condo, a 900-square-foot two-bedroom at Sherbourne and Wellesley. Jennifer was renting out the second bedroom, so Krista took the couch. It was a tight fit for three, but the twins loved living together. Determined to find a place they could comfortably share, they pooled their resources, set a budget of $500,000 and started hunting for the perfect house. Their wish list was ambitious—two bedrooms, a big kitchen, a lush backyard and a basement rental unit—so they focused their search on the northwest corner of the city, hoping to land a well-maintained home in an up-and-coming area.


Option 1

Rogers Road (near Caledonia).
Listed at $584,900, sold for $550,000.
This roomy semi looked pretty great on paper—the eat-in kitchen had recently been upgraded and the basement was set up as a rental—but the backyard was an interlocking brick slab, and the house sat on a busy thoroughfare. It also exceeded the twins’ budget, so they moved on.


Option 2

Sorlyn Avenue (near Black Creek Drive and Lawrence).
Listed at $519,900, sold for $495,000.
Jennifer and Krista were charmed by this raised bungalow with bright rooms, a basement apartment and a grassy backyard. However, it backed onto a noisy schoolyard—a downside for Jennifer, who works from home two days a week. The twins balked on bidding and continued the search.



The Buy

Yore Road (near Eglinton and Keele).
Listed at $489,900, sold for $438,000.
There was only one grainy photo attached to the listing for this semi, so the twins weren’t sure what to expect. Surprisingly, they loved it. The basement wasn’t rental-ready and the main floor washroom was tiny, but the below-budget list price meant they could overhaul the parts that weren’t perfect. They bid $435,000, then upped the offer to $443,000 when the sellers signed it back. After an inspection revealed some electrical work that wasn’t up to code, they landed on a sale price of $438,000—leaving $62,000 to put toward the reno of their dreams.