The Sell: One family’s adventures in house flipping

Here’s a cautionary tale from Toronto Life, the story of one couple’s attempt to flip a home at Yonge and Davisville. After buying a home for $879,000 and completing $150,000 in renovations, the home ultimately sold for $1.05M, resulting in a significant net loss.

The sellers: Phares Sekalala, a 41-year-old accountant, and Sarah Sekalala, a 43-year-old interior designer.

The property: A 1,400-square-foot, three-bedroom, four-bathroom house near Yonge and Davisville.

The story: The Sekalalas emigrated from Uganda in 2001 and settled in Queensville, just north of Newmarket. A few years ago, they flipped a house as a side project, and then did another one soon after. With a bit of extra money in their pockets, they thought it might be time to move into the city—something they’d planned to do as soon as they could afford it. They noticed an $879,000 listing for a detached house in Davisville. It needed some work, but it was a steal for the area. The couple jumped on it, started gutting the place, and then got cold feet. Their four young kids had grown used to life in the country and didn’t want to leave. The Sekalalas decided to unload the property, but they’d never flipped anything so expensive before, and the high-end market proved hard to navigate.

The prep: They spent about a year and $150,000 on the renovation, which included combining two of the bedrooms into a master suite (with a new bathroom) and finishing the basement. They opted against some bells and whistles—like backsplashes and new appliances for the otherwise reno’d kitchen—that hadn’t figured into their experiences flipping cheaper homes. In the $1-million-plus market, however, buyers expect all the elegant finishes.

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