So how do you find a house when you can live pretty much anywhere? Or at least, anywhere within a 90-ish minute radius of Toronto?
We figured we would find a buyer’s agent to help us with the search. Except that isn’t actually as easy as it sounds. Our criteria were clear (if not simple): a unique character home, on at least an acre of land, with mature trees and enough space for us to live and work. It needed to not be in downtown Toronto (for reasons of price) nor in the suburbs (for reasons of preference). And ideally, it would be off the beaten path in terms of commuting (for reasons of traffic). Really, how hard could this be?
As it turned out, the resulting search area extended from Mono and Mulmur in the east and north and to Stratford in the west, with little preference for being north or south of the 401 (aforementioned criteria notwithstanding). This encompasses seven separate and distinct counties and since agents mostly specialize is specific regions (at most, 3 or 4 counties), it was impossible to find one that would cover all this ground.
In the face of this little challenge, Dianne took on house hunting with a vengeance, diligently working through pretty much every property in each area, to come up with a list of 35 candidates. We subsequently whittled that list down to a dozen extremely strong candidates, which lost another two that were already sold. Cue an intense (insane?) weekend tour of Southern Ontario that took us to 10 houses, and put about 1,000 kms on my car. At the end of this, we had learned a great deal (especially about reading between the lines of realtor listings and house pictures) about what was out there, and what was not. And we had whittled our list down to two immediate candidates.
Making a choice between these two, though, would not be easy. While there was a lot to like about each, Dianne and I both had clear preferences going in. But the good news was that there were actually two really good options.