I spent last weekend creating a front garden, doing all the planting, following a whirlwind week of landscaping by the professionals – lots of rocks!
Below is the Google street-view of the house we are hopefully buying (ignore the house numbers as they are only approximate and may not represent our address!) – you can move around the locality and see the immediate surroundings.
The house is about five minutes from the GO station (Danforth) and just a couple more from the subway. There is a small Mall just up the road on Danforth, as well as a variety of shops along Danforth itself. And Loblaws, one of the key supermarkets, is a five minute walk (they also sell petrol).
We can walk down Beach’s leafy streets to Queen St – if we walk the most direct route we come out at the bottom of Beech Ave, on the corner of which is our current ‘local’, Quigley’s, with the Remarkable Bean close by and the shore a further five minutes or so’s walk.
The house we have made an offer on is not what we expected to buy but, the moment we agreed to make an offer, my energy changed so positively and the creative thoughts started whirling for both of us to such an extent that I am very happy that it is the right decision.
We will be about 15 minutes walk from Queen St and 20 from the shore, at the top end of the Beach neighbourhood (not really Beach, though increasingly running under the moniker of Upper Beach). However, we will also be just minutes from the Danforth GO station (Greater Ontario trains) and Main Street Subway station (top speed link into and across the city).
Rather than an old home, we have gone for an end of row town house, only a few years old, with masses of room, lots of light and which fronts onto green space. The house is three storeys plus a currently unfinished but huge (and high) basement, with a back yard just the right size for us and a garage with back lane access.
The ground floor is open plan and encompasses a lounge, kitchen (with new stainless steel appliances) and dining area, as well as what is described in Canada as a 2 piece washroom (loo and basin). Stairs lead from the lounge area upwards, with a door to the basement from the kitchen.
On the middle floor are two bedrooms, a full bathroom and a wonderful family room/ media room with a balcony into a full height void over the front hall area.
On the top floor is a single master bedroom with en-suite bathroom (corner bath and large separate shower), leading off a small landing which also leads out onto a high level deck/balcony. This looks along the street behind us, which is lined with sugar maples, currently aflame even after dark as the house and streetlights fall on them.
The laundry, as is common in Canada, is in the basement (Miele front loading washing machine and tumble drier, with a sink), alongside the furnace (boiler) and hot water tank (rented – this seems to be the standard pattern here and means that it is the suppliers’ responsibility to replace it when necessary). The basement has a hugely high ceiling and is a really good space. We hope we may be able to get permission for an external door and conversion to an apartment but with access retained to the furnace and tank and a shared laundry area,
The back yard (garden) has just the right amount of space to create a deck and some visual interest – it benefits from being the corner plot, continuing round the edge of the garage, which has been given a mock facade along the side. This is pretty much a blank canvas still.
This is a house that we can move into and not have to do anything, as far as we can currently see. But there is enough potential that we can hopefully both enjoy developing its character and add to its long-term value.
Our fingers are crossed for a smooth passage to Canadian home ownership!
The realtor photos of the interior of the house really do not do it justice! But at least they give you an idea.
FOOTNOTE: We removed the conditions yesterday (Wednesday), having had our mortgage approved and following a very helpful home inspection – this is equivalent to exchanging contracts in the UK.
Yesterday evening we had our offer accepted on a modern townhouse in the Upper Beaches area.
The house was first listed on MLS on Friday, we saw it at an open house on Saturday and our realtor immediately started working on our offer and indicated our interest. He then presented the offer to the sellers and their realtor last night at 6.15pm, whilst we waited round the corner so that the contract could go backwards and forwards with minor adjustments (and lots of signatures!). Once it was finally accepted, we were invited to meet the sellers, which was lovely and meant that we got to see round the house again straight away! At this stage, the contract is only partially binding on us subject to conditions, which have to be lifted by Wednesday evening, but is binding on the seller.
Today we had to get a bank draft for the deposit and deliver this to be held in trust by the realtor. We also saw our lawyer to go through the legal requirements and costs. Tomorrow we will have the home inspection. This is similar to a home buyers report except that we and the realtor will walk through the property with the inspector and will have the chance to ask him questions. We also hope to have confirmation of our mortgage. These are the two conditions that we need to lift. Assuming these are fine, we then move to a binding contract (subject only to any legal issues that might emerge) and our lawyer starts his checks (similar to those in the UK).
If all is well, closing (completion) will take place between 30 November and 14 December, to be confirmed by 16 November.