A tiny Toronto house for sale is creating a buzz among house hunters and a ruckus on Twitter, with some calling the $229,000 asking price just another sign of insanity in the city's heated real estate market. Some Twitterati point out the house has no kitchen or bathroom and call it a "shack," but real estate agent Paul Vallis of Real Estate Homeward isn't bothered; he good-naturedly describes it as a "detached gem."
"I'm getting quite a bit of interest because of the price and because it's so cute," says Mr. Vallis. "A lot of people have different ideas about how they want to use it."
I dropped by the open house on the weekend at 30 Hanson St., just south of the Danforth and west of Coxwell Ave. It was so busy, people were jostling for space inside the detached house, which measures about 210 square feet on a 14-by-20-foot lot. The current owner lives nearby and purchased the property in 1979 as a private haven where he could watch movies and listen to music.
"He bought it as a little retreat for himself," Mr. Vallis says.
Still, there's no disguising the fact that this was once a garage.
The owner has paid for municipal water and sewage pipes to be brought to the property line, and the house already has electrical service, but there's no plumbing.
The buyers will need to install their own kitchen and bathroom.
New owners will also need to apply to the City of Toronto for a permit in order to install plumbing, says Mr. Vallis.
He stresses that prospective purchasers will also want to ensure that the house can be used for whatever purposes they have in mind and an inspection by the city will likely be required.
Mr. Vallis points out that banks will want a very hefty down payment because a structure without plumbing is deemed vacant land. The property doesn't qualify for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. insurance because it's too small, he adds.
"You really have to do your due diligence."
When the lot was last for sale, for example, a hot dog vendor who used to park his truck nearby considered buying the house and turning it into a hot dog stand so that he could serve students at a nearby school. That plan wasn't feasible because the lot is zoned for residential use, not commercial, Mr. Vallis explains.
Mr. Vallis says since listing the property for sale on Tuesday he has shown it to quite a few young people who are looking for an alternative to a condo. Another potential buyer is an older Toronto resident who plans to move to the country and wants to maintain a pied-à-terre in the city.
As for the asking price, Mr. Vallis acknowledges that he has taken "quite a bit of heat" from people who think it's a bit rich. But prices in Toronto are generally high, he points out. He was looking at Tokyo real estate and homeowners there are accustomed to even smaller spaces.
The agent adds that he thought about listing the house with a lower asking price but he didn't want to use an artificially low price to spark a bidding war or create a feeding frenzy. This way, the owner has room to negotiate. He would have taken just as much heat for listing it too low, he figures.
"It's a fantastic neighbourhood," says Mr. Vallis, with lots of young, professional people moving in. "The neighbourhood really has gone up in value."