After just a week on the market, our lovely townhouse SOLD firm! We were lucky that the timing worked out with a very hot real estate market in the Greater Toronto Area in the spring of 2016. Our particular neighbourhood is in high demand, being close to Hwy 404 for easy access to the city and close to coveted amenities like Canadian Tire and T & T Supermarket. With limited available stock, houses were being snapped up fast this spring at premium prices. We followed the trend, listing low, running weekend open houses, and holding off offers for a week.
We worked with our favorite real estate agent and friend, Taylor Sugar, who also assisted me with purchasing my last 2 rental properties. Open houses were busy and we were expecting multiple offers but only one registered. Fortunately for us, they were a motivated buyer, having lost out on purchasing 4 previous houses to other bidders before falling in love with our home. Taylor did an excellent job in showing them the comparables and setting their expectations on a realistic price range in the current market. The buyer cut right to their bottom line quickly in the negotiations and, recognizing a fair price, we accepted. The buyer had inspected the day before, also anticipating a bidding war, and gave us a firm offer with a substantial deposit and a closing date in late July. The deal was done.
We had one unexpected hiccup in the process: less than 2 hours before the first open house, our 14 year old hot water heater sprung a leak – a tiny spray shooting out the side. Moving fast, I caulked it to turn the spray into a drip and put a towel beneath to prevent the water from soaking the carpet which covered the floor drain at the bottom of the basement stairs in the finished area. Unfortunately when we returned that evening, the towel hadn’t been enough and the carpet had soaked though thankfully only after the open house! With another open house the following day, we dried the carpet overnight with fans and a dehumidifier and drained the hot water tank so the problem wouldn’t recur. The hot water heater was a rental – it wouldn’t cost anything to get a new one but it would lock in the buyer to another 10+ year-long rental contract. Some buyers prefer to own their tank (cheaper in the long run) or even put in an on-demand system – I had held off replacing the old one because it was working fine and I felt it was an advantage for the buyer to have the option.
The buyer was informed that we would be replacing the hot water heater with a new tank and they were fine with that. So the next day, I had a new rental hot water heater installed for no charge and the problem was solved. Interestingly, once the old tank was drained, the showers would not work at all – the pressure balance control valve, which prevents scalding in case the toilet is flushed, prevented any water from coming through at all during the inspection! Our agent did a good job reassuring the buyer that the problem was temporary and connected to the hot water heater issue and would all be resolved. Sure enough, one the new hot water heater was in place, everything went back to normal.
While our home is lovely and has been perfect for us, the reality is that, from a resale perspective, our house is not ideal: at 1500 square feet, it is considered small even for a townhouse and it faces a busy street. The upstairs bedrooms are carpeted (though the upper hallway is hardwood) as is the basement; people prefer hardwood upstairs and laminate below grade. Worst of all, our side of the street has a sidewalk, limiting the outside parking to one vehicle. With these defects, most buyers say, “not this one”. We were lucky to find a buyer who, like us, saw the advantages: lots of windows letting in natural light, sound privacy from the neighbour, a beautiful yard with lots of trees, and upgraded features like quartz countertops, window film for privacy and a solartube skylight.
We had put effort into making improvements over time, like the organizer in the walk-in closet and the new laundry tub and cabinet in the basement. I always say that every house that is bought will one day be sold: taking care of our home put us in the best possible position at resale with a move-in ready home that could attract a buyer despite the challenges. Reflecting on the sale in the days since, I am pleasantly surprised to feel happy and at peace with the deal. It seems like a very good deal to me indeed to be paid a tidy sum to walk away from our responsibilities here and go chase our dreams!