National Post (Latest Edition)
‘Worked out great’
Burned by a red-hot resale market, young couple slows down and up-sizes with a pre-construction townhouse near Old Weston Road
Antoine Lebrun and Erin Weinkauf met at a beginner hip-hop dance class in 2017, five years after Lebrun moved from Paris to Toronto to work as an audio engineer. Toronto-born Weinkauf already owned a one- bedroom in the Vu Condos & Lofts near Jarvis and Adelaide — she’s been there since 2010. As their relationship developed, it made sense for Lebrun to move in, which he did after receiving his Canadian citizenship last year. But now they’re ready for the next step.
“We’re just really looking forward to owning our own space together,” says Weinkauf, who works as a health-policy adviser.
Their much roomier new digs, a three- bedroom townhouse in Diamond Kilmer Developments’ Reunion Crossing project, will be part of a 249- unit condo and townhouse project currently in pre- construction at St. Clair Avenue and Old Weston Road. With retail- heavy Stockyards to the west, the lively Junction neighbourhood to the south and foodie-friendly Corso Italia just east, the thirtysomething pair consider Reunion Crossing a walkable cosmopolitan hub. “The proximity to the Stockyards is convenient, and we really like the bars, restaurants and coffee shops in the area,” Lebrun says.
Post Homes spoke to the pair about how they found the one.
Q What was at the top of your want list when you started the house hunt?
Weinkauf We were definitely looking for a townhouse, but the location was almost more important than the property itself. We were willing to be flexible on what the property looked like, but less so with the location. Lebrun Transit is also a big thing for us; we wanted to be able to get downtown in half an hour. We didn’t want to move anywhere that was really remote, where it would be a nightmare to get anywhere.
Q How did the search begin? Weinkauf We spent the first six months looking in the resale market. We found the process extremely competitive, and in the end quite frustrating. We found ourselves in bidding wars and looking at places under our budget, knowing that they were probably going to sell for way over.
Lebrun There’s this whole process where you get an agent, you make an offer and eventually you realize that the places you think are within your budget are going to go for much more because the market is so competitive. We basically had to keep redefining what our budget was, and that was really frustrating.
Q How did you overcome it? Weinkauf We took a break for about six months and then had a frank conversation with our real-estate agent. Together we decided to start looking at pre-construction. That process was a lot less stressful. Lebrun It was also less rushed and less competitive. You know the amount you’re going to pay, and you know the rough time frame. We also knew we might want a bigger place down the road, and that’s when we had a change in perspective.
Q How many pre- construction options did you see before buying?
Weinkauf There were two serious contenders: One in the east end, and Reunion Crossing. We heard about Reunion through friends who live in the area, and when we started looking at pre-construction it jumped to the top of our list. We were there opening weekend.
Lebrun It worked out great for us. Once you find something that really fits your needs, it’s a pretty natural process. We slept on it, and then we decided to go for it.
Q What are the best things about your new townhouse? Weinkauf We really like all the amenities that come with living in a condo. With our new property we’re in a townhouse complex, but we have the ability to use the amenities in the main condo building on St. Clair. We won’t miss out on all the cool shared spaces, parks and green space. We won’t have to shovel our own snow. But we will have more privacy and more of our own space.
Q Any regrets?
Lebrun Our occupancy date is June 2022, so I guess it would have been nice to move in sooner. Still, it’s nice to know we’ll have our own place in the city two years from now, especially with my French relatives wanting to visit.
Q Do you have any tips for other people saving to buy their first home?
Lebrun The most stressful part is thinking you have to stretch your budget to find something that suits you. If something isn’t too much of a stretch, and it ticks all your boxes, then it’s probably a winner in this market.