Thursday, 9 June 2016

"Making improvements" is too loosely defined...

Last year a duplex came on the market just down the road from our apartment. Real estate nerd that I am, I have always kept an eye on new listings, even though I knew we weren't ready to buy a house. The market in Hespeler last year was pretty normal so there was no crazy rush and eventually, the listing expired without being sold. 

2015 Listing View

The "For Sale" sign came down and I thought nothing of it. Until the sign popped back up a few weeks ago. While we'd rather not go the landlord route, Jake and I understand that our options are incredibly limited and we really might not have much choice. At first I was in sticker shock over the dramatic rise in price when comparing to what it was listed for a year ago. It went up by $53,000!


I looked at the listing online and soon discovered the apparent source of the price jump. The owners had taken this past year to renovate and improve the main floor unit and a bit of the exterior. Jake and I were skeptical of the price, but intrigued by the potential that the property posessed. 

2016 Listing View


Our thought was simple. If we bought it, we'd live on the main floor, have a tenant upstairs and have their rent pay for any major renovations we'd want to do and then, in a few years' time we'd turn the duplex back into a single family home. 

Et voila! A beautiful big home in our desired area, with plenty of parking and potential.

We booked a showing with our agent and went to check it out in person. 

The upstairs unit was much as we expected with one delightful surprise and one that kind of grossed me out. It was a pretty small and cramped space but was laid out effectively and certainly would serve our purposes short-term of renting it out. The thing that surprised me was the amount of natural light.
I appologise for the quality of these photos, all taken on my rather dated cellphone.

You can see in the exterior photos that there are four skylights in the front section of the roof. Those skylights made what could have been a dingy space into a bright and inviting one. 

The thing that semi-grossed me out was the fact that the front door led directly into a set of stairs that takes you up to the apartment. Okay, what's so gross about that? Well the stairs are completely covered in carpet. And not, small, hard "this is a public space" carpet. This stuff was the kind that you'd put in a bedroom. So all of the gross things you step in get stuck to this carpet that you cannot just throw in the washing machine. 

Definitely something I would want to change. 

But realistically, there was nothing that needed to be done to the upstairs unit for us to maintain its rental capabilities. 

So on we trekked to the main floor! 

This was obviously the part that was most important because this would be where Jake and I lived and the whole point of us moving was to get an upgrade that we could call our own. I was mildly excited when we stepped through the side door and into a combination mudroom and laundry room, sans washer or dryer though. 

Mudroom/Laundry Room. Looking at the laundry hookup.

There was SO much space right at the entrance considering the size of the building. Unfortunately, my excitement got held up in the mudroom and didn't follow me anywhere else. 

It seemed in their haste to make the main floor look amazing in photos, they decided to use the cheapest products and install them very poorly. The more we looked around the awkward layout, the more angry we became. It didn't take long for us to decide that this house was not for us, but we kept moving from room to room just to marvel at the laziness of the updates. 

Granted, many of these were probably done years ago, but you can't fix a wound with an off-brand bandaid...

Here are some of the things we liked: 

The basement was thoroughly cleaned and completely whitewashed. No dungeon basement!
The front porch that looked directly to the park across the street!
Gorgeous old floor grates.

And here's the many things that drove us insane:

The weird layout and crazy small rooms. I had another picture where Jake is standing in the middle of this room with his arms outstretched and he's only about 2 or 3 inches away from touching both walls. But out of deference to him I decided not to post that one. 

I honestly have no idea what is going on with that trim work

Who finished that and thought "Yep, looks great"?????

That's the side door. As in the door that leads OUTSIDE. And there's a huge crack that you can see sunshine coming through. Now, I'm not an expert or anything but I'm pretty sure that's not supposed to happen.

"What's wrong with this?!" you say... well aside from the fact that none of the separate upper cabinets are installed at the same height...

THERE'S THIS COLOSSAL WASTE OF SPACE!!! IN A KITCHEN!!! Honestly, the second I saw this I was fuming. I was angry on behalf of this house and its future inhabitants. 

While all of this stuff drove us insane, we knew we COULD fix it. But a) that would be such a waste considering it's all brand new and b) there ultimately wasn't enough space for what we're looking for anyway. 

So we walked away and as per the real estate norm this year, the property sold soon after. 

What I have taken away from this experience though is the simple fact that a lipstick solution might get you a raise in price and a quick sale, but the house has to suffer for it... 

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