These days, Toronto is well-known for two things: an extremely multicultural population, and a very hot real estate market.
It’s an interesting time to be buying or selling homes.
Loraine Lee visits nearly 200 homes a year. Her clients come from a wide variety of backgrounds.
“The first thing that strikes you is the cuisine. Once you enter the house, you can tell who lives there – by the smell of the cooking. Although nowadays, sellers are very aware and try to either open windows to get rid of the smells or by masking them.”
Born and raised in Jamaica of Chinese parents, Loraine and her family moved to Toronto in the 1970’s.
She’s a gifted writer and former publisher who decided to pursue her passion for real estate 10 years ago. Doing so has opened up the world’s cultures to her, right here at home in Toronto.
The first time she saw an altar in a linen closet, it surprised her. Now, it’s just one of the many religious practices she sees in Toronto homes.
“At one home, the wife was from the West Indies and the husband from India. She had Hindu and Buddhist statues, but also crucifixes and statues of the Virgin Mary. I think she was trying to cover all bases.”
With Toronto’s large Chinese population, Feng Shui beliefs about design dictated what houses some people would buy. But that’s changing.
“In the last three to four years, the market has been so hot because of low inventory that Feng Shui seems less important. If the price is right, no one seems to be bothered anymore about the number 4 or that the house is a T-Junction house. There are remedies for those “blockages”, so it’s no longer an issue.“
There are many ways of creating a home. Loraine appreciates them all.
“Some men putter around continually – either willingly or at the behest of their wives – painting, changing floors, renovating bathrooms, laying stone walkways, etc. Some people’s homes are always spotless. There are the folks who spend hours in their garden all Spring and Summer, and the beautiful colours reward them.”
Loraine loves figuring out the diverse needs and values of her clients and her clients’ letters show that they value her going the extra mile:
“Loraine had a way of making us feel as if we were the only clients she had! She really took the time to know us and understand our needs and budget!! With Loraine we didn’t only find a new home… but also a new friend!”
Dedicated to everyone who is trying to buy/make a home in Toronto’s complex housing market and to realtors who do their best to help you.
33 thoughts on “Selling “Home””
Hooray for realtors like Loraine. Interesting that the market in Toronto is hot. The market in our city is boiling. It would actually be a good time for me to sell and downsize but but but…I’m lazy. 😦
Moving is a tough decision to make and tough to do.
If it had been available 15 years ago I would have bought a house that I could adapt and use to the end of my days. This house is quite accessible for an older person but it is too large to maintain when I get to pensionable age in a few years time. 😦
I hear you.
That is interesting about Toronto. My city was rated the most diverse in the U.S. When visiting our premier mall you can hear all kinds of languages spoken. Maybe we should be “sister” cities! My Indian friends had made their wine cellar a shrine. What are the industries there that are attracting so many?
Sister cities sounds great. What city are you in?
In Toronto, you’ll see various shrines in gardens too.
Industries vary from telcommunications and media/film/the arts to finance and construction. Etc. etc. But it’s the city’s famous welcome to diversity that draws many immigrants. It’s not perfect, but pretty welcoming.
I’m in Houston,Texas.
That seems like a very vibrant city too.
One of the best things about living in Houston for years was working daily with people from all over the world. Nice to see your comment, automatic.
I love that about Toronto. I once taught at a school in Scarborough where the kids came from 68 different countries.
Gallivanta, I agree, small is beautiful. if I downsize, I would build an 800 square place off the grid. But there is a certain comfort in staying put – like you say.
lol, I’m hoping for 400.
I’ll be wanting a nice verandah, a spacious kitchen, and a garden. If there’s a house attached to all that, I’ll be happy!
Good to hear of a real estate market that is thriving. Here, it is glutted. Values of homes have fallen drastically low . There are ‘For Sale’ signs on every street and lots of empty commercial buildings.
On a positive note, although things have been like this for many years now, things do have a way of balancing themselves out. Hearing about a prospering market is a good sign.
What is your city, Cynthia?
I honestly think that immigration has helped to keep Toronto afloat through rough times. People seek the peace and tolerance of this city, the relative safety, and the feeling that you can still come here and make your mark.
I enjoy multi-cultural cities and the diverse interchange of people, ideas and culture. Washington DC was great for that, NW Arkansas not so much, though it is progressing. Thanks for another fun highlight Cynthia.
You are welcome, Brad. Toronto right now seems to have achieved a good mix. Mind you, black and brown residents might still be stopped unnecessarily by police. There’s a huge controversy right now about those practices in our city. So the people are diverse, and mostly tolerant, but there is still discrimination in certain pockets. Thank God for people of conscience whose good actions remind us that the city cares.
I’m glad your city seems to be moving beyond discrimination. It’s shocking how we seem to be going backwards in many areas of the US. And we each contribute by our own actions. Thanks my friend.
What fun to read a story about the city where our sons live. And believe me, finding a good rental appartment for them was already an ordeal that took almost a year! In the end we were so lucky to find a beautiful two bedroom for them in North York but with public transport at their doorstep, only 45 minutes from down town. Apart from the crazy traffic, I love Toronto! It is multi cultural at its best, safe, green and a exciting city.
And good for you to celebrate an excellent Real estate agent: with so many moves and selling and buying…we know, a good real estate agent earns a medal! xo Johanna
Well said. It’s a really great city.
I’m glad the young men found a great place. And of course, you helped them to decorate it so nicely.
WOW! Sounds like a thriving and wonderful place to live. Our market is kaputs~
Toronto sounds like a really exciting place to live. A really helpful understanding estate agent is a treasure.
That’s for sure. One part psychologist, cultural navigator, marketer etc.
In our moves we haven’t had much help from our agents. Unfortunately the times we have had to move have coincided with dips in the economy so I suppose there wasn’t much the agents could do to help us.
So interesting about the hot real estate market in Toronto. I think it’s fairly feisty in Kingston at the moment too.
Wow. The low inventory of homes for sale in Toronto has pushed the prices up so high that, according to one realtor, people are “cashing out” and moving to smaller cities and towns where they can buy a house and have some money left over. But those prices are going up too! Yikes.
I’m always thinking about selling my house. When I’m finally ready I hope my agent treats me as well as Loraine treated you. I prefer multicultural cities; I live outside of New Haven and enjoy going to NYC whenever I can.
I hear you. I’m not Loraine’s client but I have heard great things about her professionalism and I asked if I could write a story about her. I was glad when she said Yes.
The Toronto area is now so multicultural that I forget that it wasn’t always that way! But a 40 minute drive away and it is not as visibly diverse.
interesting:-) My parents are selling their home in a difficult market, we buried a St. Joseph statue: -) My mother claims it works she sold 4 other homes that way + my brother tired it too…upside down:-) It sold in a few weeks. I love where we live for we have such diversity:-) Our high school soccer teams could be united nation teams people say:-) My kids grew up with such diversity that I feel it made their life so much richer:-)
Some people I know have buried the St. Joseph statue too. Don’t know how the saint feels about that, but it seems to work for them! (smile)
The thing about the diversity is that if you are unused to it, you may be scared. I recently heard of a few communities, just an hour from Toronto, who are trying their best to keep Chinese people out. Some listing agents will tell Chinese agents that “the house has been sold”, when it isn’t.
In a diverse neighborhood, my neighbours may have some practices that are different from mine. But I’ve learned that most people want to live in a peaceful neighborhood, take care of their families, houses and gardens, and live in respect. My kids have also benefited from that richer life that you mention, Robbie. Thanks for your thoughtful reply.
Our school district is on the watch list often for the state of illinois due to the “language” obstacles these poor kids have to deal with and it is a shame that people don’t see that, but the local people ALWAYS comment how low our scores our in our school district. My husband tests kids ( IQ etc) to help find the best service for them + it amazes him all the different languages from various countries. It does lower our averages, so those of us that are educated- have to explain to others how it works…”This is why it looks that way on paper etc…, but we have some very smart kids.” Many of them, I noticed this year were top students!
It was interesting when my middle daughter in jr. high met a boy playing soccer at lunch break ( his family escaped from the middle east) that was an amazing soccer player.She was on a coed team so they asked him to come to practice + I might add he was their star when he joined:-) His parents spoke no English but the kids did a bit, so they adjusted over time.
We have many stories of immigrants in our community. Our local presbyterian church works with a variety of organizations trying to help people escape “terrible” conditions. I ride the river and see many of them fishing and walking along with their small children. I know what you mean about people scared, but I have to say I have enjoyed having and learning from many of them in our community:-)
The other day , I rode past a sweet mother with all 3 of her small kids learning to ride bikes-they usually don’t have cars but they are so resourceful + take advantage of our community gardens growing their own ethnic foods. I am eager to learn more about what they grow and eat:-)
We were just in North York and Vaughan over this past weekend for a hockey tournament. My 10 year old son commented on how many different people he saw and languages he heard over those 2 days. There was a Pakistani wedding party at our hotel loading into their limo bus, there was an Indian wedding reception in the banquet center and we were all amazed at the beauty of the women’s clothing, we had a Jamaican waiter at a restaurant who shared a little of his story with us, and the food choices in the area reflected the different cultures. The row housing was amazing to my son and his hockey buddy on a detour through a construction area. They could not understand how the houses had no yards to speak of.
One thing I did not like was all of the traffic on every road be it a highway or side street. That reminded me of what a small city girl I truly am. It took almost 20 minutes to go a mile on a Friday evening…not used to that 🙂
Everyone hates the traffic. As you may know it is the number 1 issue the city mothers and fathers have been grappling with, and our newspapers are full of stories about it.
Houses and small backyards: The other thing is the million-dollar suburban homes with so little backyard. Crazy or what?
I understand row housing for cities – they were a great solution in places like London, Bath, and many European cities. But in Ontario, outside of the big city? That’s crazy for people like you and me – we love the space and the country feel. However, some people hate that, and don’t garden, or cannot afford that space, so it’s a solution for them.
Toronto itself has numerous beautiful neighborhoods and many have beautiful gardens – it’s really a city of lovely neighborhoods. If I could afford to live in Toronto, I would!
Very nice post. I too have gone into real estate to pursue my long-time passion (north of Toronto in the King City-Aurora area) and it’s certainly rewarding helping people manage these major life events that buying and selling are. http://lesliewhicher.com