Welcome to our Living in Retirement blog, where a couple is writing about their real-life retirement journey.
We had already started exploring the town and met many warm and welcoming people. In the meantime, we still had to sell our Toronto home.
Financial advisers may not recommend what we did – buy first, sell later. However, we have always been real estate risk-takers, settling on a new place and selling the old one later. Although the housing market in Toronto was hot in the spring of 2012, we knew we were taking a risk and visions of owning two homes danced in our heads.
We immediately drew up a budget for the sale of our east-end Toronto home, where we had lived for the past 11 years. We needed to pay for the painting of the house, the cost of a home inspection we would make available to potential buyers, a storage unit for three months, as well as real estate and moving costs – basically all of the expenses surrounding the sale and move to Kingsville.
One good decision we made was hiring a real estate agent. Ours did everything from running open houses to negotiating with buyers – things we would have struggled to do on our own. Never be afraid to negotiate your agent’s fee – we did and it certainly paid off.
Our agent suggested that we repaint the interior of our house, pointing out that our Caribbean blues and Provence yellows might not suit everyone’s taste. We went with an attractive neutral colour she recommended.
She also advised us to minimize our furniture. We love vintage and had accumulated a collection but it made our house seem less spacious. We rented a storage unit and soon the house looked so lovely and open that we joked about taking it with us to Kingsville.
Because we had already bought our new home, we had three months to sell our place in Toronto, purge some old stuff and move. We had decided that some of our furniture would not make the move to Kingsville. We used a consignment house, Of Things Past, to sell some of it. The process was easy: We brought the furniture to them; they appraised it and put it in their showroom. When it sold, they sent us a cheque.
We also researched moving companies to help move us to Kingsville, which is roughly four hours south-west of Toronto. We spoke to friends and friends of friends to help us understand and find the right movers. We got four quotes and eventually chose the company that guaranteed us we would not be charged extra time for traffic or weather woes.
As mentioned earlier, we rented a storage unit nearby and, it seemed like daily, made trips there to store boxes and furniture that were not needed for the open house. We rented a storage unit that was nearby and we could drive right up to, which made it easier to access and store our stuff.
After all of the purging and packing and storing and consigning and painting and readying it was time for the open house weekend. We put the cat in a kennel and thought we would go to a movie – but we were too exhausted to even do that. Instead, we called some dear friends and invited ourselves to their place for the weekend. It was arguably one of the smartest things we did as we came back rested and ready for the stressful period that followed.
The week after the open house was filled with appointments from various agents and clients that wanted to see the house again. At this point in time, Astrid was still teaching and Peter was working part-time from his home office, which he needed to vacate frequently that week when potential buyers came through.
As is common practice when selling a house in Toronto, we decided we would consider all the bids at once – in our case on a Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. The appointed time came and we had three offers. We listened as our agent read each one. Since the first offer was above our asking price and higher than the other two, the decision turned out to be a no-brainer.
The highest offer was 2.8 per cent above our asking price - more than enough to cover the costs of readying it for sale, with some left over. The buyers wanted to visit the house twice before the closing date. Other than that, there we no conditions. By 8:00 p.m. the house was sold and our stress had evaporated.
Now it was time for us to move to Kingsville.