This couple felt cramped in their downtown condo. So they upsized to a $585,000 Scarborough townhouse

This couple felt cramped in their downtown condo. So they upsized to a $585,000 Scarborough townhouse

Photograph by Erin Leydon

The buyers: Hayden Meloche, 23, software engineer at RBC, and Leah Hugli, 23, registered nurse at Michael Garron Hospital.

The story: In late 2019, Hayden and Leah lived together in a one-bed, one-bath condo near Yonge and Bloor, paying $2,100 a month. The couple, who planned to start a family, had been saving up to buy a townhouse by 2023. But the pandemic sped up that timeline. During lockdown, while Leah continued commuting to the hospital, Hayden worked from their 620-square-foot condo’s windowless den. By August, the claustrophobic quarters were getting to Hayden, and the couple decided to look for a three-bed, two-bath townhouse. Ideally, it would have enough space for a future family and home office, with monthly condo fees under $400. With those things in mind, the couple took their $700,000 budget and started townhouse-hunting.

Option 1: Dundas Street East (near Sherbourne)

Listed at: $650,000
Sold for: $600,000

In early September, Hayden and Leah looked at this two-bed, two-bath townhouse in Moss Park, located just a 10-minute drive from their condo at Yonge and Bloor. The century-old building’s exterior needed some updating, particularly the front steps and porch, but at 1,200 square feet across two storeys, it was nearly twice as big as their place. It also had a move-in-ready interior, with a custom kitchen and a nice gas fireplace. But the $453 monthly condo fees were above their budget. Plus, both of the bedrooms were in the basement, not ideal for Leah, who wanted an above-ground master bedroom with plenty of natural light. They decided to move on without making an offer.

Option 2: Warden Avenue (near St. Clair and Victoria Park) 

Listed at: $635,000
Sold for: Unsold

The couple shifted their search to the east end, where they could get more square footage within their budget. Hayden and Leah had mixed feelings about this three-bed, two-bath unit in a Clairlea-Birchmount townhouse complex. At approximately 1,400 square feet across two storeys, it had plenty of room for kids and a home office, plus impressive hardwood floors and a couple of big balconies. There were some problems, though. The townhouse complex’s exterior felt a bit cookie-cutter. The couple would also have to share an entrance with five neighbours and climb three flights of stairs to access their unit. And the $580 a month condo fees were much too high. But the place was close to Leah’s work and, since it had been on the market for more than two months, the couple thought they could get lucky with a low-ball offer at $35,000 under asking. In response, the seller only offered to knock $100 off the listing price, which wasn’t enough to keep Hayden and Leah interested.

The buy: Homestead Road (near Lawrence and Morningside) 

Listed at: $499,900
Sold for: $585,000

In mid-September, the couple went even farther east, stopping by this three-bed, two-bath townhouse in West Hill, a quiet residential neighbourhood in Scarborough. Inside, at 1,600 square feet across three storeys, it had a spacious master bedroom and enough extra rooms for a future family and home office. Another bonus: the condo fees were only $225. On the downside, the old kitchen and unfinished basement would require renovations, so the couple would have to shell out for those. But they were willing to take on a project, considering the place was listed for $200,000 under their budget. So Hayden and Leah went for it. On September 19, they made an offer of $85,000 over asking, hoping to beat out any competing bids. That sealed the deal. Since taking ownership on November 2, Hayden and Leah have renovated the kitchen—adding new tiling, cabinetry and appliances—for an estimated cost of $13,000. This summer, depending on lockdown restrictions, they plan to host a belated housewarming party at their new place.