House of the Week: $3.2 million for a revamped Trinity Bellwoods home with a sauna in the master bedroom

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Published on: December 8, 2016

Address: 118 Givins Street
Neighbourhood: Trinity Bellwoods
Agent: Alex Brott and Ashley Clare Gollogly, Sotheby’s International Realty
Price: $3,199,000
Previously sold for: $1,920,000, in 2016

The place

A four-bedroom home on a tiny one-way street between Shaw and Ossington, near Trinity Bellwoods Park.

The dining area, at the front of the house:


The living room has a porcelain wall:


This kitchen has twice as many chandeliers as most chandelier-having kitchens:


And there’s an eating area at the back of the house, with a fancy coffered ceiling:


There are three bedrooms on the second floor. This one is set up as a den:


Another bedroom:


And another:


The master suite is on the third floor. Here’s the bedroom:


And the bathroom, with yet another chandelier:


The master bedroom has a stylish balcony:


The basement is set up as a seperate apartment:


The basement living room:


And the basement bedroom:


The backyard:


The history

Once a bungalow, the home was converted into a three-storey property in the 1980s. The sellers bought the property in 2016 and spent the better part of the year updating it. They installed hand-crafted wood doors, replaced all the windows, revamped the landscaping, stained the exterior brick and knocked down some walls on the main floor to open up the floor plan.

Big selling point

Most home saunas are in a corner of the basement. Not so here, where the steam room takes pride of place in the third-floor master suite:


Possible deal breaker

A price tag north of $3 million is something buyers are more accustomed to seeing in places like Forest Hill and Rosedale. But what this home offers—4,600 square feet, a detached three-car garage, and a 30-foot lot—may make moving to the west end a bit more attractive to a wealthy buyer.

By the numbers

• $3,199,000
• $7,271.88 in taxes (2016)
• 4,600 square feet
• 30-by-131-foot lot
• 5 bathrooms
• 4 bedrooms
• 3 car garage
• 1 sauna

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The Chase: A meditation instructor uses Facebook to find a short-term lease for the right price

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Published on: December 8, 2016

The renter: Cecilia Moorcroft, a 44-year-old clutter coach and meditation instructor.

The story: In February, Cecilia left her partner of 10 years, her dog and her Junction Triangle apartment to move to California for six months. She returned to Toronto in August with a new partner in tow. The pair didn’t know whether they wanted to live permanently in Toronto, so they drifted from one couch-surfing arrangement to the next as they searched online for a short-term lease. Cecilia wanted a furnished apartment near her office in the Annex, ideally with plenty of sunlight and enough quiet for morning meditations. She hoped to spend no more than $1,500 per month.

Option 1

A one-bedroom apartment in a house on Laughton Avenue (near St. Clair and Davenport), advertised for $1,500 per month

Cecilia wasn’t having much luck finding short-term leases, so she decided to make the leases come to her. She posted on several Annex-centric Facebook groups and explained her timeline and budget. She got an email from a young couple living in the Junction who offered to rent out the main floor of their house. Cecilia loved the wood floors, but she was concerned that the din from the two kids living upstairs might interrupt her zen. The deal-breaker: she and her partner didn’t want to want spend their lives waiting for the St. Clair streetcar.

Option 2

A one-bedroom condo on Dundas Street West (near Ossington), advertised for $1,500 per month

This place popped up on Bunz Home Zone, a Facebook group where users post leads on rentable apartments. Although the location was ideal, Cecilia was turned off by the current tenants, a young couple who gave her the impression that they were heavy drug users. Cecilia, who is trained in feng shui, says she’s sensitive to spaces, and that she could sense a distinct heaviness in the apartment. Normally, she’d eliminate the bad vibes with “space clearing,” a ritual involving bells and flowers—but, since the unit was a sublet, she figured it would be tougher than usual to clear.

The Choice

A one-bedroom apartment on Sheridan Avenue (near Dundas West and Dufferin) for $1,500

One of Cecilia’s Facebook friends posted about her predicament in the Bunz Helping Zone, yet another Facebook group. As a result of that post, Cecilia connected with an art curator who owns a house in Little Portugal. To Cecilia, the space felt neutral, which was a good thing. The apartment has plenty of windows, light hardwood floors, and, while the furniture isn’t exactly to her taste, the flexible lease will allow her and her partner to stay until they figure out their next step.

Here’s the exterior of the house:


The apartment’s living room:


The bedroom:


And the kitchen:


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Rental of the Week: $4,200 per month for a penthouse with two-storey-tall windows

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Published on: December 7, 2016

Address: 183 Dovercourt Road, Penthouse 4
Neighbourhood: Little Portugal
Agent: Todd Armstrong, Realty Inc., Brokerage
Price: $4,200 per month, plus utilities

The place

A two-level, two-bedroom penthouse with a multi-tiered cedar rooftop terrace.

Here’s the entrance:


The living area is surrounded by windows, and the terrace wraps around:


The kitchen:


And the guest bedroom, with terrace access:


The master bedroom is up the stairs:


Here’s the master ensuite:


And a better look at the terrace:


The history

There’s a factory clock above the lobby entrance, which gives away this place’s past: it’s a 19th century building that was, for a time in the first half of the 20th century, home to the Ideal Bread company. In 2007, it was transformed into a six-storey condo building with 87 lofts. The dough mixers are gone, but the exterior brickwork and giant windows remain. Inside, the residential units have hardwood floors and exposed ductwork. This penthouse is one of seven two-level lofts on the top floor. The landlord, a Canadian businessman, lives in Spain, but has several rental properties in Toronto and Vancouver.

Major perk

The wide-open living space is perfect for entertaining. No matter how many guests a tenant has over, the 16-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows will keep the unit from feeling too stuffy:


Possible deal breaker

For all its post-industrial grandeur, the building is short on amenities. Anyone who needs an exercise room had best look elsewhere.

By the numbers

• $4,200 per month
• 950 square feet
• 16-foot ceilings
• 2 bedrooms
• 2 bathrooms
• 1 rooftop terrace
• 1 parking space

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Four of the glitziest Airbnb rentals in Toronto

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Published on: December 6, 2016
The Dream Suite

$4,000 per night • Midtown • 6,500 square feet
Extras: Private spa, sauna, terrace, pool and home theatre. The unit has been used for photo shoots with Gigi Hadid and as a set for Suits.


Host: Becky Caissie, property manager
Why did you list it? “I learned Beyoncé uses Airbnb, so I decided to list the place to see what might happen. There’s definitely a market for super-luxury homes—some months we rent it out for 10 to 15 days.”


Who was your most memorable tenant? “Drake hosts a basketball tournament every summer. A couple of players stayed here. I did groceries for them and they gave me a list—just tons of Gatorade. They’ve talked about coming back next summer.”



The Ping-Pong Palace

$2,500 PER NIGHT • Yorkville • 2,700 square feet
Extras: Two wine cellars, private elevator entrance, heated floors and a Ping-Pong table.


Kai Bent-LeeHost: Kai Bent-Lee, restaurateur
Why did you list it? “A friend who lists his place on Airbnb recommended it to me, as I travel often. I looked at comparable suites in hotels like the Four Seasons and Hazelton and, actually, my place is a deal—for this size, you’d pay more than double in a hotel.”


Who was your most memorable tenant? “I haven’t rented it out yet, but I’ve had inquiries to use my unit for Scientology seminars and as an adult film set.”



The Garage Mahal

$938 PER NIGHT • High Park • 2,700 square feet
Extras: Two patios and a home theatre with HD projector. The unit used to be a commercial garage, and the owner’s ’63 Chevy is occasionally parked in the front hall.


Host: Robert Pilichowski, filmmaker
Why did you list it? “My place is unique. I figured it would be great to give people the opportunity to use it when I’m not there. Of course, the supplemental income helps, too.”


Who was your most memorable tenant? “My first rental was a family from Tel Aviv. It was great to meet people from across the globe, from a completely different culture. I’ve heard Airbnb horror stories, but so far, it’s been anything but that.”



The Factory Revamp

$987 PER NIGHT • Queen West • 1,700 square feet
Extras: Sliding 5,000-pound blast doors, library.


Host: Bob Froese, CEO of Bob’s Your Uncle Agency, and wife, Tahnee
Why do you Airbnb? “We go to the cottage every weekend between mid-April and November, so my place is empty. Just for fun, I put it out there to see what would happen. Now, I’m on track to make $30,000 this year.”


Who was your most memorable tenant? “We had a music industry type in from Los Angeles. After about three or four days, I got called about a noise complaint. I reached out to the guy from my cottage, but he said nothing was going on. Next day, same thing. I was back in the city at that point, so I literally walked into the unit. A couple of celebrity musicians had stayed over, and they were playing Xbox games really loudly all night.”

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