What can $409,000 afford you in the GTA? A condo in Scarborough with an hour commute to the closest subway station

#GTAHomeHunt is a new weekly series from the Star that gets into the details of real estate listings in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. Have a tip? Email us at social@torstar.ca

Price: $ 409,000

Neighbourhood: Malvern — Scarborough

X-factor: Good price for the space with potential to negotiate below asking

Can you buy a condo in the GTA under $ 500,000 these days? On this week’s #GTAHomeHunt, we zero in on a Scarborough condo selling for $ 409,000. This one-bedroom, one bathroom (and two-sunroom) home clocks in just over 700-square-feet. The unit includes an underground parking spot and is fully renovated with a new kitchen, bathroom, laminate floor and paint.

If you’re a first-time buyer, you might be wondering, is this a good deal? We brought in our expert, real estate agent Othniel Litchmore, to gain a better understanding into why this property costs what it does and what he thinks is going to happen.

Why is it priced this way?

In the Malvern neighbourhood, this spacious, albeit “messy,” condo is listed at $ 409,000, Litchmore says pointing to the listing photos. That’s not a bad price especially when it’s compared to similar-sized properties in downtown Toronto, Litchmore adds.

For anyone living or working downtown, the catch for this unit is the location and proximity to transit. Those travelling to work or school will find a bus trip to Kennedy subway station could take 40 to 60 minutes and the commute is not walkable, Litchmore says. It’s also in an older building, erected in 1985.

Other GTA listings of similar sized condos in downtown Toronto’s Fort York, City Place and Niagara neighbourhoods ranged from $ 569,000 to $ 999,000. Despite the fact it’s already up to a half a million dollar difference, the gap in prices can end up being even bigger for a reason Litchmore says — the same reason he’d show a client this listing — dirty dishes, undone beds and all.

“This seller just wants to sell the home … (and) presents an opportunity for a deal simply because you can tell that the seller is sort of in a rush,” Litchmore says, adding that there clearly wasn’t an effort to make the unit look particularly glamorous. “They’re not able to wait until the tenants move out before putting the home up for sale, so they just posted the pictures with the tenants’ stuff exactly how it is.

“If you have vision, and you can see past all the junk here, you have an opportunity to get something under market value,” he adds.

Another sign that the condo could be up for a steal is that this seller isn’t holding offers, meaning that if someone were to make an offer today, the seller would likely take it, which is rare in today’s seller market, according to Litchmore. Usually, sellers choose a set date when all prospective buyers can make their offer. This can help them manage the rush of eager buyers, but it’s also a strategy many sellers use to sell over asking.

That, paired with the way the listing price is presented, indicates that this seller isn’t using any gimmicks. As a marketing strategy, many sellers will end the listing price at 99, in hopes of reaching more buyers, but selling above asking.

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“In a situation like this, you can almost be certain that you can negotiate the price because not a lot of effort was put in here to get it on the market, there’s not a lot of strategy, there’s no tricks,” Litchmore says.

Any other tips for those looking at places like this?

“You have to be able to spot an opportunity where there is an opportunity,” Litchmore says. If people can keep an open mind about where in the city they would like to live, they might be able to get into the housing market sooner, rather than later, he adds. Since the housing market is generally trending upwards, in just three to five few years, the home could be sold at a bit of a higher price, and the buyer could leave having made money.

TORONTO STAR