Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
And she with a chuckle replied
That maybe it couldn’t but she would be one,
Who wouldn’t say so till she tried.
So she buckled right in with a bit of a grin,
On her face, If she worried she hid it.
And she started to sing as she tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done….
And she did it.
I read an article the other day about our incessant complaining in an age of fulfillment. It got me thinking about the real estate market. (I guess that wasn’t a big stretch) I sell a lot of houses in Toronto and I am around a lot of buyers as a result. I often hear people talking about how they will never be able to afford a home and real estate is out of reach for our children. I say Pishaw !!!! Hooey !!!! Poppycock !!!!
I think real estate acquisition is possible for anyone who really wants it. But you have to really want it. You have to be willing to work for it….to put it on your back and carry it even though it’s heavy.
Sometimes buyers will come through an open house and I hear things like, “The third bedroom is too small.” or “ The whole basement will need redoing.” and “Where are we going to park…on the street ?” I say yes, all those things are true. Buy the place anyway and live with what you can’t fix or make do temporarily. MAKE DO.
I hear…..”We will never be able to afford a house in Toronto, prices are crazy.” I say buy a condo and live in it for a few years and then trade up. Condos are a great investment right now and there are fabulous places to live near transit with reasonable maintenance fees. MAKE DO.
I hear “I want to live in an area where I feel safe and I can raise my children in the right environment.” I can tell you on a personal level that when I bought a house in Toronto 22 years ago, I paid what I thought at the time was astronomical and moved to a neighbourhood that was on the dark side of shady. The school was considered ghetto. Today, everybody and their fancy strollers want to move in. Why not take a step outside your comfort zone and buy a place in an area that hasn’t been declared Shangri-la….and MAKE it great. Volunteer at the school for a couple hours. Make food for the farmers. Shovel your neighbours sidewalk. I know I know…You are busy with your own life and family. But a neighbourhood happens not because of the houses in it but because of the people living in them.
When I first moved to Toronto I wondered what was so great about Leaside. Everyone wanted to move there but the houses all seemed like little dreary boxes to me. I realized it wasn’t the little 3 bedroom brick mainstay that people were after, it was the comfort of home. They had grown up there and their mothers had baked pillsbury croissants while they watched Saturday morning cartoons. They had played ball hockey on the wide streets and hide and seek until it got dark. They were yearning for the community.
A condo can be a community. You have to work a little to make it so. You have to meet your neighbours in the elevator…at the gym, helping them with the door as their hands explode with packages. We are not solo travellers on the earth despite what we sometimes feel like. The proof is in the pudding. Our lives are longer and more stress free if we have social interactions on a daily basis. (And by the way, I am going to try and use every old fashioned expression I can in this article.)
This week I went looking at condos with an elderly client of mine. He has lived in a house his whole life in a neighbourhood that has gone from stale to fresh. He looked at 3 condos and said to me….”Well two out of three ain’t bad. Can we offer on two of them ?” Not too picky for a guy that once had it all.
So I say yes !! Your children can buy a home in Toronto today. It may not be the perfect 3 bedroom in the junction with parking and an exposed brick wall that they were dreaming of. So…go NORTH of the tracks where living can be a little steamier and not everyone will have pants on every day. Meet your community of like minded friends….oh yes they will be there. They will be the ones making the sandbox a better place to play in. They will be having a gluten FULL cheddar scone in the coffee shop without the brand name. And make a nest here. Build a back yard oasis. Paint your own walls. Sit on furniture that isn’t designer….. pass your empties on to the guy that comes around to collect them with his bundle buggy. (And one day he will surprise you and buy you a Christmas card that he drops at your back door that is still wrapped in cellophane.) Some weeks you will only be able to afford 1 bottle of wine….but I promise you, it will taste better than any you have ever had. You may not have the best THINGS or the perfect HOUSE in the YORKVILLE of neighbourhoods, but you will have built a life.
I once was doing a stage show and I had to start the show and go on by myself and do a full 10 minute monologue. I stood backstage petrified and told my fabulous friend Dennis that I was too scared. I couldn’t physically move. He told me…”It’s not worth doing the thing if you aren’t afraid at least a little bit. It’s how you know you are alive.”
Let’s go out there into our eclectic and diverse town and build the next Parkdale. Let’s imagine the next Lawrence Park. Let’s clean up another Cabbagetown. Sure, we may have to go a little farther out, settle for a little smaller or get a little dirtier, but I promise you….when all is bought and paid for, “it will taste better than any you have ever had” !!!

You Don’t START On Boardwalk…..

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