The Ultimate Chase: After nearly two years and a hundred homes, a couple lands ‘the one’

The buyers: Ari, a 36-year-old healthcare marketer and his wife, Amanda, a 33-year-old lawyer.

The budget: $850,000 to $1 million

The story: When Ari and Amanda started looking for their first home, they assumed they would get what they wanted: a fully detached with a master ensuite and a big yard in the downtown Wallace-Emerson neighbourhood. But the Winnipeg transplants quickly discovered that the Toronto housing market is far more challenging than they imagined. “We realized we couldn’t afford our dream house,” says Amanda. “We had champagne taste on a beer budget.”

Two years, one baby and several compromises later, the couple’s house hunt is finally over. Watch their story in the video below:

Seal the deal with your phone

It may be difficult finding a home to buy in Toronto, but getting approved to purchase a place just got easier. In May, CIBC introduced its new Hello Home app, allowing home seekers to complete their mortgage from start to finish all on their phone.

Users open the app, take pictures of the necessary documents, upload the images and get assigned a dedicated mortgage specialist, who they can message using the app. That specialist will then call to finalize the deal.

The innovative app and other solutions from CIBC lets you keep up with your busy life so that you can spend less time on mortgage financing and more time finding a perfect home.

This is sponsored content. For more details on CIBC’s Hello Home mortgage app, please go to

Condo of the Week: $675,000 for a Moss Park factory loft with its own garage

Address: 365 Dundas Street East, Unit 108
Neighbourhood: Moss Park
Agent: Nicholas Robert Horton, Blue Elephant Realty Inc.
Price: $675,000
Previously sold for: $325,000, in 2009

The place

A ground-level unit in an Art Deco lens factory built in the 1940s.

Here’s the entryway:


There’s a small office nook (super-modern space chair not included):


The living area:


There’s a little space for a dining table next to the giant-sized wall of windows:


The living room has a fireplace:


The owners made the chandelier themselves, and they’re planning on leaving it for the next owner:


And here’s the bathroom:


The unit has its own garage:


The history

Artist Ryan Livingstone and his husband Chris Barnes moved into another loft in this building a few years after it was converted to condos in 2000. When the owner of unit 108 ran into some creditor trouble and the property went on the market under power of sale, they took a look. There were cigarette holes in the bathtub, water-damaged cabinets in the kitchen and garbage bags taped over the windows. They snapped it up and started renovating.

Big selling point

It’s now the perfect contrast between old and new. The guys polished up the concrete columns, removed drywall to expose brick, buffed up the terrazzo floors and added an ultra-modern kitchen with custom lacquered cabinets and LED lighting:


Possible deal breaker

The loft doesn’t come with its own outdoor space, although there is a 450-square-foot shared rooftop deck with a gas barbecue.

By the numbers

• $675,000
• 1,170 square feet
• $745 in monthly maintenance fees
• 12-foot ceiling height
• 2 parking spaces
• 1 bedroom
• 1 bathroom
• 1 locker

Obsessed With Toronto Real Estate?

The Chase: A grad student swaps his house for an extra-roomy downtown rental

The renter: Sean Hillier, a 27-year-old PhD student in political science, sessional instructor at Ryerson University and naval officer with the Canadian Forces.

The story: In October 2014, after nearly a decade living in Toronto, Hillier left his apartment in Regent Park to live in a house he’d bought in Hamilton. The place turned out to be a good investment, but he quickly grew tired of his commute to Ryerson, and he missed his city friends. He listed the place in March 2016 and sold it in less than a week, leaving him with more than $100,000 in his pocket and a four-month window before he had to hand over the keys. He found a potential roommate and began searching for a two-bedroom apartment south of Bloor, between Bathurst and Church, for between $2,800 and $3,200 per month. He’d be moving with an entire house’s worth of furniture, so the bigger, the better.

Option 1

Four-bedroom townhouse on Dalhousie Street (near Dundas and Church), listed at $3,000 per month

This four-storey townhouse needed new carpeting and a fresh coat of paint, but it was big enough for Hillier’s furniture needs, with over 2,000 square feet. Better yet, it was steps away from the Ryerson campus and had a private backyard. He put in an application, but the landlord was a handful: they spent days haggling over the price and other things, like whether Hillier could bring along his dog. The negotiations ended when the landlord started to suspect that Hillier and his roommate—two guys renting a four-bedroom—were planning to list the apartment on Airbnb.

Option 2

Two-bedroom penthouse on Hayden Street (near Church and Bloor), listed at $3,300 per month

Shortly after losing the Dalhousie townhouse, Hillier’s future roommate found out that he was being transferred to Amsterdam. At the same time, Hillier was posted out of town for military duty for three months, leaving him just 10 days to find a home when he came back in late June. Upon his return, Hillier began a frenzied search. He saw at least eight mediocre places before falling in love with this two-bedroom, two-bathroom penthouse, north of the Church-Wellesley village, with a sweeping south-facing view, a walk-in closet and a fireplace. He rushed through the paperwork and got it to the landlord, but another applicant beat him by an hour.

The choice

Two-bedroom loft on Baldwin Street (in Kensington Market), listed at $3,200 per month

With days left before he’d be forced to leave Hamilton, Hillier was worried he’d have to crash on a friend’s couch. But then he saw a listing for this Kensington Market loft. He arranged a viewing within hours. He was sold on the apartment’s 13-foot-high ceilings, breezy open-concept design and unobstructed view of the gleaming “Kensington” sign on Baldwin. He was the first and last applicant to view the place. He took possession two days later. The rent is high for a single person, but Hillier figures the extra space (1,300 square feet, to be precise) is worth it.

Here’s the living area:


The dining area:


One of the bedrooms:


And the other one:


And it’s located right above a pot dispensary (though, pretty much every apartment in Kensington is):


The Hunt

Rental of the Week: $4,000 per month to live in a Moss Park house with a koi pond in the backyard

Address: 205 Seaton Street
Neighbourhood: Moss Park
Agent: Elias Kibalian, Royal LePage Signature Realty, Brokerage
Price: $4,000/month, plus utilities

The place

A century-old home with two wood-burning fireplaces on a leafy street between Dundas and Gerrard.

The history

The house was built in the late 1800s. One its previous residents was John Sewell, the mayor of Toronto from 1978 to 1980. Its present owners intend to live in the house one day, but for now they’re happy in their current home, in another Canadian city. The place has undergone major renovations over the last 10 years: it now has restored pine floors, a new roof and copper eaves, an updated kitchen, and backyard landscaping. The basement is a separate apartment, and it’s currently rented to another tenant.

Here’s the entrance:


The living room, at the front of the house:


The dining room:


And the kitchen:


The kitchen has a breakfast area with a door to the backyard:


There are three bedrooms on the third floor. This one is being used as a family room:


Another bedroom:


And another:


There’s a third-floor loft area that could serve as an office or a den:


Also on the third floor is this minimalist bedroom:


Major perk

The backyard is a perfect entertaining space, with a deck, a koi pond, and lots of greenery. And it’s exclusive to the upper apartment: the basement tenant has a separate patio.


Possible deal breaker

Both bathrooms are located on the second level, leaving the main floor without. Guests at any backyard parties will have to deal with the stairs:


By the numbers

• $4,000/month, plus utilities
• 2,400 square feet
• 4 bedrooms
• 2 bathrooms
• 2 fireplaces
• 1 koi pond

The Hunt