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12/11 - Buying

Part I: The Insider on Toronto’s “Real” Real Estate Buyers | The Upgrader

Toronto's "Real" Real Estate Buyers: The Upgrader | Fox Marin Blog

Toronto’s “Real” Real Estate Buyers

Not all of Toronto’s real estate buyers are those running around with a trust account or inheritance from their distant uncle. And, not every buyer has parents buying them a fully renovated detached house outright – trust me, this does happen, and sometimes I have that tinge of jealousy myself.  Yes, there are actual real people buying “real” real estate in this crazy, amazing city of ours! These buyers have real jobs, real stories, and a real commitment to make it happen.

Who are these people? We’re kicking of a three-part feature series on Toronto’s “real” real estate buyers, all of which are Fox Marin clients, who share their insider tips on home buying. Take a look at the journey of some pretty awesome buyer clients who have made a purchase with me, in the last year or two. We’re sharing an interview of their very “real” real estate experience. This way, you can use these journeys as a catalyst to fuel your own goals of acquiring property. And maybe, you’ll also laugh a little along the way!


Meet the Upgrader

In the first of this three-part series, we’re featuring one of Toronto’s “real” real estate buyers: the upgrader. She’s an “on-the-cusp” millennial who feels lucky to have squeezed into the housing market, when so many people her age are finding that dream to be out of reach. She is the kind of millennial that owns a home and loves avocado toast. But of course, makes her avocado toast at home, which in part explains how she saved for the down payment! She works in publishing, which to some people sounds glamorous, but according to her, “it’s absolutely not“. She lives with her partner, who is an architect (also not glamorous), and their rescue dog, Tennessee. She sold her modest condo in midtown to upgrade to home owner status in Toronto’s coveted South Riverdale neighbourhood.

Intrigued? Read her interview…


How did you meet Kori at Fox Marin Associates?

I met Kori when my very good friend was searching for her first house in Toronto. At the time, her husband was living in China, so I played a stand-in role by tagging along during her property search.


What was it like meeting Kori for the first time?

Instantly comfortable. Kori tells it like it is, but in a way that makes you feel like you’re not an idiot for asking what feels like, an idiotic question. She’s high-energy when you’re low-energy, and encouraging when you’re feeling discouraged. This is so important! And, she makes you feel like she always has time for you – even when she probably doesn’t.


Do you remember the first property you saw together?

It was the one that got away! A modest row house on Badgerow that needed some love, but oozed potential (to me, anyway). In the end, the timing of the sale was just too complicated. And, there were some major anxiety, tied to the fact that it was the first place we’d seen! But, I still think about it and all the things we could have done to make it our own. And, as one of Toronto’s real estate buyers knowing what I know now, it turns out that the property sold for a totally reasonable price!


What was one thing you didn’t expect about the home buying process?

I knew it was going to be competitive, but I guess I didn’t really prepare for how competitive it actually was. In fact, one time, we went to an open house in a crazy snowstorm that caused city-wide power outages, and even STILL, that place was full of people crashing into each other in the dark. All of who, took turns blinding one another with their iPhone flashlights, trying to get a glimpse of the place. I think that house sold for 125% of asking too.


What is something new you learned about buying a property?

In Toronto, you have to act FAST. Like, too fast. There’s no room for hesitation; if you find something that might work, you need to get on it right then and there. In our case, my partner didn’t even see the house we ended up buying – I saw it at noon and we bought it later that day.


Tell us about anything funny or unusual that took place during your search.

Having spent most of our weekends attending open houses, we were feeling burnt out (and bummed out), so we took a weekend off. We walked over to Tommy Thompson Park where, allegedly, if you were patient and persistent, you could get a glimpse of a rare snowy owl in the wild. We spent four hours walking around in a snowstorm looking for one, passing people along the way who would point us in the direction of where one had “just been spotted”. We never saw that owl. I don’t even think we saw a single bird that day. The search for the owl started to feel too similar to our home search. We walked home soggy, frozen, and defeated.


What do you wish you knew about buying a home before you started searching for a property?

It’s going to take way longer than you think, and you’re going to spend way more than you can realistically afford. Avocado toast at home FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!


What was the first thing you were willing to give up on your wish list of must-haves for your property?

Size and number of rooms.


What was one thing you were absolutely not willing to give up on your wish list?

Location – and space for a vegetable garden.


If you could go back in time and speak to your twenty-something self, what advice would you give as one of Toronto’s real estate buyers?

If you’re buying real estate in Toronto, take all the help you can get. And, hang in there! Also, don’t give out your real email address at those open house sign-ins – you will get an endless number of termite extermination emails.


What’s your favourite thing about your current home and the neighbourhood you live in?

My favourite thing about Leslieville is that the neighbourhood is so walkable. You can head out on foot and get a great haircut, a manicure, gifts, locally-brewed beer, a new kitchen table, a delicious baguette to go with dinner, and a scoop of the best ice-cream in the city – all within a 2km radius. My favourite thing about the house is probably the master bedroom. It’s pretty big, given that the rest of the house is so small. And, it has skylights, which makes it the brightest and most inviting room in the house.


If you had a budget of $100,000.00 to renovate your current property, what would you do with it?

Build a small addition on the back to add a mudroom and pottery studio. (My partner and I are terrible potters who fantasize about one day being terrific potters who can quit their jobs and make pots for a living. This will obviously never happen.)


If you had unlimited funds, where would you live in Toronto and what dream house would you buy?

Same neighbourhood! I’d love an old Victorian though – something with a little more style and character. And, a bigger lot would be nice. I’d also love a fixer-upper – something we could really make our own.


What advice would you give to a first-time home buyer?

In Toronto at least, unless your budget is unlimited, you’re probably not going to buy a place because you “love it.” You’re going to buy it because “it’s fine” and meet enough of the important items on your criteria list (and the roof isn’t going to cave in next week – you hope). Focus on the things you cannot change – i.e. location, location, location. And, don’t get sucked in by the beautiful house “just a 10-minute drive” away from where you really want to live.


Ready to become Toronto’s next real estate buyer?

No doubt, real estate is a competitive market, especially in the Toronto real estate market. But, having a buyer agent that you trust, who can advocate for you and your best interests, and who will also make you laugh when you need a good laugh – this is all key to the home buying process!

Up next in this three-part interview series: The First-Time Condo Buyer


This article is written by Kori Marin, Managing Partner and Broker at Fox Marin Associates. With a passion for Scandinavian design and all-things-Toronto, Kori brings her own brand of charismatic energy, creative integrity, and expertise to her work.