Skip to main content

The house, seen here in March, 2012, became a symbol of the ferocity of bidding wars in 2012.Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

The humble Willowdale bungalow that caused jaws to drop when it sold for more than $400,000 above asking four years ago has buckled under the force of an advancing bulldozer.

Standing in its place at 300 Dudley Ave. is a large, two-storey wood frame surrounded by construction fencing.

The property, near Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue, became a symbol of the ferocity of bidding wars in 2012, when it drew 18 offers and sold for $1,180,800, or $421,800 more than the asking price of $759,000.

The sale had all of the neighbours talking because it marked a new intensity to bidding wars beyond fashionable downtown neighbourhoods and because the buyer was a young university student from China.

Did she overpay, the neighbours wondered, or did this deal exemplify a new level of determination among international buyers to own real estate in the Greater Toronto Area?

Little did market watchers know then that 18 offers and $1.18-million for a vintage three-bedroom bungalow would seem tepid compared with the market action and prices in the GTA of 2016.

Last April, the property changed hands again with a sale price of $1.28-million and one offer. Listing agent Michelle Fraser of ReMax Hallmark Realty Ltd. says even her client wondered if she had paid too much on bad advice in 2012.

But four years later, she's pleased.

"She's happy – it all worked out," Ms. Fraser says. "She got her money back."

The client's return on investment of 8.5 per cent over four years fell far short of the market's 25-per-cent advance over the same period, but she did come out ahead. She also rented out the property for a time.

The new buyers, named in property records as Haiyun Lin and Mingxing Xue, are young investors who bought with the intention of redeveloping the lot, which has a premium 60-foot width. The two have separately purchased other properties in the GTA in the past year or so.

Work began soon after they received building permits in November for a 2,700-square-foot house with a finished basement.

Bill Thom, an agent with ReMax Realtron Realty Inc., specializes in North York real estate. For him, the furor surrounding 300 Dudley is a distant memory.

"That is history," he says. "We keep breaking records by the week."

One of his listings sold in September for $1.038-million. The buyer made some minor changes, such as replacing pot lights, then sold it again a few months later for $1.366-million.

The neighbourhood has changed significantly in the past four years, he said. New condo towers have risen along Yonge, and new stores and restaurants have moved in as well. Now people in the area can walk to Whole Foods Market, the Empress Walk cinema complex and every type of multinational cuisine.

Earl Haig Secondary School and some of the area's elementary schools appeal to families with children, he says.

The subway can whiz older students down to Ryerson University or the University of Toronto, he adds, and York University is easy to reach by bus.

The pocket east of Yonge Street between Sheppard Avenue and Finch Avenue has long seen redevelopment, he says, but the pace is intensifying. He estimates that 50 to 70 houses are sold and replaced each year.

"This trend started in the eighties."

The high-water mark for a 50-foot lot stands at $1.85-million, Mr. Thom says.

The price for a newly built luxury house on a premium lot is pushing $4-million, he says, but hasn't quite reached that milestone.

Recently, about seven traditionally styled houses – similar in appearance to the one under construction at 300 Dudley – were listed for sale within a few blocks at prices between $2.6-million and $2.8-million. All of them now carry "sold" signs.

Mr. Thom says prices vary with lot size and the age of the home. He adds that the housing stock is still evolving, with some of the newest houses appearing more modernist in style.

Ms. Fraser, who sells mainly in Durham Region to the east of Toronto, says many Asian investors are moving in that direction to find places to buy, but listings are scarce.

In one recent deal, she says, a house listed for $600,000 drew eight offers and sold for $118,000 above asking.

Bidders tend to be a mix of investors and young families looking for an affordable house, she says.

There's a growing infrastructure in Durham, she says, with more high-end restaurants and popular shopping centres moving in.