When a 'six-figure' garage was offered for sale in Toronto

Toronto real estate had reached such unobtainable heights in 1989 that brokers were even trying to sell an east-end garage as a potential place to live.

In 1989, garage was said to bring new meaning to the term 'affordable housing'

A different kind of garage sale

34 years ago
Duration 1:57
A pair of real estate agents offers a unique property for sale in 1989 Toronto.

As the CBC's Lorne Matalon told viewers in August 1989, Toronto house prices were "pretty intimidating." But there was hope.

"We think we may have found one solution to Toronto's high cost of housing," he said, after viewers saw newspaper ads advertising houses for sale.

That solution was a place on a street in the city's east end: a 20-by-35-foot garage.

"A garage that has brought new meaning to the phrase 'affordable housing,'" said Matalon.

"Crazy ... but that's reality'

Newspaper classified ads selling real estate
Home prices in Toronto could be "intimidating" for buyers in August 1989. (CBLT Newshour/CBC News)

The selling price of $130,000 wasn't just for the garage. (In 2023 dollars, that price is equivalent to about $272,500.)

"This particular garage comes with plans for a one-and-a-half storey home," said Matalon. 

Real estate brokers David Dagenais and Desmond Brown highlighted potential adaptations for the garage, including replacing the metal garage door with a "huge bay window."

Matalon said the garage represented an opportunity "when it's hard to get a big bang for your Toronto housing buck."

"We probably are crazy, with what's happening in our marketplace," said Dagenais. "But that's reality."

'Trend-setting tract'

Pile of furniture
Anyone who bought the garage could expect to clean up the garbage that was piled up behind it. (CBLT Newshour/CBC News)

By spending another $70,000, said Matalon, a buyer could turn the garage into "rooms with a view."

"You could paint, like, a mountain scene on it," said Dagenais, indicating a fence opposite the garage. "Or maybe a lake, or a waterfall ... This could be like nature." 

Matalon acknowledged it was the land the garage sat on that was "likely to interest buyers," but Dagenais touted other potential in the "trend-setting tract of Toronto." 

"Over here you could put a nice skylight," he said, while standing on the garage's roof and envisioning a "master bath" with a Jacuzzi and sauna.

Matalon said nearby homeowners were "thrilled" there was a garage "in the six-figure range" on their street.

"The fact that the asking price for the garage is so much means that the value of their homes has already increased."

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