The Search … Resumes.

I could hardly believe my eyes.

Through the window, I could see the sunlight glinting off of Lake Ontario below. A lone hot dog stand sat close to the water’s edge. Next to it, cars whizzed down Lake Shore Boulevard.

To the left of the building, cars and trucks sped along the Gardiner Expressway. Just beyond it was a smaller body of water – likely Grenadier Pond.

I was standing in a condo that was up for sale, on the 7th floor of a building that had been registered for a year.

You entered by way of key card – not a key. There were hardwood floors and double closets. The kitchen, bathroom and bedroom was a decent size for one person. It had a small balcony. Even the size of the living space wasn’t terribly tiny.

It was, quite literally, the nicest unit I’d seen so far, since resuming my real estate search a month ago.

Yep, you heard me.

That talk back in January about sucking it up and getting on with it? Well, I guess I was lying to myself. Again.

I HAD been looking at rental listings, trying to get a feel for I could expect for less than three zeroes. In fact, I still am.

But it was a phone call in March, to an agent I’d spoken to last fall, which set the wheels in motion again.

So, about the nice condo near the water: it was close, but no cigar. I did seriously consider it. But the location was the issue. If I was a driver with a car, there’d be no problem. But as a pedestrian, commuting would be a bit awkward. Plus the only thing immediately in the area was the low-rise hotel next door. And as a single woman, I had my reservations, especially travelling after dark. So my search continues.

I’ve been at this newest attempt for just over a month. I’ve seen eight units so far this time around. Not surprisingly, the prices of properties have jumped in the six months I took a break, and they continue to climb.

I fully realize what I’m getting into – a seller’s market, where people are listing and selling for as much money as they can get. So “tiny” now applies to square footage, not cost. I’m not kidding myself by any stretch of the imagination.

Do I think I’ll be successful this time? I’ve got absolutely no clue. But I’m trying to prescribe to a slightly different philosophy.

I’m trying to be more proactive in telling my agents which units I’m interested in looking at. But I’m trying to treat this as the search for my first place as an adult, rather than an investment. Perhaps that’s a foolhardy way to look at it. But that’s frankly how people are treating their houses and condos – as investment properties that are used to try and make large monetary gains.

And prices aren’t going to be like this forever – they’ll take a drop. But then again, experts of all stripes have been saying that for at least the last six years.

And frankly, I really don’t want to spend the remainder of my young adulthood, living with Mom and Dad, waiting for this to happen.

Yes, I could rent. But I’d rather give this option another spin of the wheel than putting this quest on hold.

The truth is, I’m cautiously optimistic at best, realistic/pessimistic at worst. I’m keeping my expectations very low and give this latest go-round until June or July. And then I’ll re-evaluate.

But for now, I’ll put the condo near the water out of my mind, continue to exercise some patience … and hope that when the time is right, I’ll pounce and hit my target.

The Search Begins

“Good luck. Hope you like it,” said the tall, attractive fellow as I exited the elevator with my real estate agent.

He and his equally tall, fit friend in the elevator were smiling at me, and I smiled a “thank you” in return.

As we headed down the hall towards a unit in the trendy, new-ish Mutual Street condo, I’d already prepared myself for the fact the place would be tiny. I wasn’t kidding myself; I was really going for curiosity’s sake.

The moment after my agent turned the key in the lock and pushed the door open, I found out just HOW TINY this place was.

The bathroom was just big enough to turn around in – once.

The bedroom was so small, there was a curtain over the “entrance”, instead of a standard wall with a door. And there was nothing separating the “kitchen” from the “living room”.

The best feature was probably the balcony.

In all, the condo was barely 430 square feet, if that. And it was selling for nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

And thus, that warm Monday night was my official introduction to the world of real estate.

Or, as I like to call it, Condo Hunt 2009.

It’s been about six years of saving … nearly two years of pining, whinging and yowling about wanting my own place … and about four or five months of restlessness and anxiety just to get to the “property hunting” phase, never mind obsessively staring at stretched digital photos on MLS. (Ah, house porn).

Of course, because of low interest rates, I’m now up against a three-alarm-fire of a real estate market … which means four words I dread most in the glossary of real estate vocabulary –

“Multiple offers” and “Bidding war”.

As a single woman, I’m screwed against couples, and other rich singles.

That is, if a property will stay on the market long enough for me to even look at it, never mind make an offer. The units my agent e-mails me –  to see if I’m interested – are usually gone within a few days of appearing on the market.

And from what my real estate agent said to me this evening, it sounds like this scary scenario will likely continue into the fall.

Since starting this week, I’ve only seen four units. That’s actually not bad. But from the sounds of it,  the odds of me finding something this year, this fall, are probably 10-1. Scratch that –  more like 500-1.

Oh, well.

At least I’m still saving money.