Affordable housing in Toronto: This historic fixer-upper, converted to a duplex for built-in rental income, recently listed for $49,595
Photo: Roy Montgomery, flickr.

TORONTO—Peter Juxton and Amanda Roberts sit nervously holding hands in the backseat of a black BMW 320i.  Lining the street are five similar cars with five similar couples.  Then comes the news.

“Peter, Amanada,” says Toronto realtor Michael Bayes, with pause for effect, “the house is yours!”

“It’s happening!” screams Amanda.  “Our life starts today!  I knew adding another twenty thousand dollars to our bid would put us on top!”

All over Toronto, this scene is playing out.  Young couples looking to buy their first home get into bidding wars over properties their parents wouldn’t let the dog sleep in.  Semi-detached, falling down, adjacent to the train tracks fixer-uppers are the entry level option in a vastly over-inflated market.  And the triumphant pair couldn’t be happier.

“This is such a relief,” said Juxton.  “We’ve already been outbid on three other properties, so we knew it was now or never.  I don’t even care that we’ll be eating cat food for the next eight years just to pay the mortgage.”

Realtor Jimmy “Jam” Jammerstein breaks down the housing market thusly: “You’re not gonna find a property under 400 thousand dollars that doesn’t need a ton of work.  If you want four standing walls and electrical upgrades, you’re looking at 450 minimum.  Add more than one full bath and parking, you come in at a baseline of 500k. Finally, if you’re looking to get a fully renovated stand-alone three bedroom, two bath starter with parking, get ready to shell out at least 800 grand.  Keeping in mind that all these homes are in neighbourhoods that are just beginning to gentrify – we’re not talking downtown locations.”

Ted Owens and Judy Brunt are glad to be out of the housing frenzy.  Said Owens, “If our options are to battle it out with six other couples to secure the privilege of pouring all our money into an overpriced trash heap or live in this beautiful condo in the heart of downtown while enjoying dinners out at nearby hip restaurants, we’ll rent forever!”

Brunt concurs.  “After seeing over 100 houses and getting outbid ten times, we gave up.  When we watch our friends struggle to make payments and turn down every outing that costs more than ten dollars, we’re sure we made the right decision.”

Juxton and Roberts disagree.  “We’re so excited to finally call ourselves homeowners!   And we’re gonna throw an EPIC house-warming party!” said Juxton.  “In five years when we have disposable income again.”

Added Roberts, “Unless we get pregnant.”

By Molly Donovan

I grew up in the USA, but don't hold that against me because I'm also Canadian. Just think of me as the mole.

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