Want a bungalow? You can’t afford it

Jeanette Brattin-Ellis
Jeanette Brattin-Ellis

Young couples with children searching for a starter home may want to look elsewhere if  they’re hoping to purchase a bungalow in Leaside for a economical price. These days, buyers are lucky if they can snap one up for less than a million bucks.

“Only contractors, or big foreign money can afford to buy these houses. There are no more starter homes,” says a retired schoolteacher who sold her bungalow on Donlea four years ago for a high six-figure sum.

“It’s true,” says real estate broker Sue Byford. “If you aren’t a builder, you probably can’t afford one.”

But it isn’t just the young who are out of luck, it’s also retirees looking to downsize. “I recently quoted the price of bungalows in Leaside to a man from Rosedale who wanted to settle here and he was shocked,” Byford says.

On the other hand, retiree Jeanette Brattin-Ellis, 88, was delighted when a broker recently told her that she could get over a million dollars for her three-bedroom bungalow on Laird.

The house in North Leaside, which Brattin-Ellis has lived in for 37 years and that was built in the 1950s, features a finished basement and renovated kitchen, as well as an addition at the rear, built in part by her  late husband Norman.

“I’ve had many offers for it, but I don’t want to sell it. I’m quite happy with it,” she says,  adding that in her opinion with the completion of the LRT, house values in the area can only increase.

Replacing bungalows beside and across the street from Brattin-Ellis’ home are large two-storey stucco houses in varying shades of grey.

For some, the appearance not to mention the practicality of these stucco houses seems questionable.

“They’re very ugly, I don’t like them at all,” says Brattin-Ellis.

“I think the stucco craze has waned,” says Byford. “Builders caught on… so you see a lot more bricks now. Grey stone is also popular.”

Even the predominately red brick, peaked-roof houses of Leaside are losing appeal.

“I call them Big Bird’s house. I wanted to have a house with a European feel to it,” says one who demolished a bungalow to build a stucco house with a stone facing.

Frontage is also worth its weight in gold, or close enough. “I calculate it at about $35,000 a foot,” says real estate broker Jethro Seymour.

On a recent taxi ride home from her hairdresser, Jeanette Brattin-Ellis’ driver reminisced about when Laird was mostly an open field.

It appears that in no time bungalows will go the way of the open fields.

“Probably bungalows will be eradicated,” says Byford. “But Leaside will continue to have its charms.”