Unexamined money traps: substandard properties in Toronto

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The travails of some home owners in Toronto underscore one of the dangers of a red-hot housing market: inferior properties being offered by unscrupulous sellers and real estate professionals out to make some easy money.
Actress, writer, and director Karen Hines had a taste of this unfortunate experience on her first purchase over a decade ago. Upon entering her new home, the fetid stench of a decomposing raccoon corpse—which was trapped in an inaccessible area—immediately assaulted her senses, and the roof gave way soon after.
“So many of the problems that my house revealed were symptomatic of a greedy flip – something done on the cheap, something done to look good on the surface or to look good for a while,” Hines said in an interview with The Globe and Mail on September last year.
Hines, who relived this harrowing ordeal in her dark comedy play Crawlspace last fall, regretted not showing the Toronto property to her father beforehand.
“I was in the sway of my realtor, who obviously didn’t have the same investment that your dad has. My father, being of his generation, knew a thing or two about construction. I mean, he built his own cottage,” according to Hines, who now resides in Calgary.
While these properties might go for relatively low prices, they come with the concealed cost of the sheer amount of repairs that would be needed to make them safe and comfortable places to live in for the long-term.
Even home inspections are no guarantee of quality, as a quick once-over will almost certainly fail to detect hidden signs of trouble.
Paul Gancman, whose repair service firm receives up to 10 calls per day from condo owners in the GTA, said that the fundamentally self-destructive characteristic of substandard homes makes them a nightmare of a money trap that few consumers seem to take into account prior to buying.
“It’s quite common for hinges and doors to fall off cabinets. They aren’t built to last,” Gancman said. “The GTA might be a hot real estate market but frankly it’s a nightmare out there.”

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