It sounds like an unorthodox concept: Meeting complete strangers to see if you’re compatible to buy a house together. But as bizarre as it might sound, that’s exactly what happened on the third floor of the Toronto bar the Pilot in Yorkville on Thursday night.
Lesli Gaynor, the organizer of C-Harmony: Creating Co-operative Connections said the idea came to her when she watched her sons using dating apps.
“I have three young men and I was thinking about their reality and thinking about all of the apps they engage with on a daily basis and one of them has … used a dating site,” Gaynor said.
“It literally occurred to me that why can’t we take that kind of app or that style of meeting people and apply it to different things. It works for romance, so I think it could work for a mortgage.”
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Gaynor said prospective buyers would combine financial resources to purchase real estate in Toronto.
“I combine my revenue with your revenue and your income with my income, we have more buying power and then we buy a property,” she said.
The former social worker turned real estate agent said while it seems unconventional, the idea of sharing space with strangers happens more often than you might think.
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“People share homes all the time but there is a landlord,” she said.
“You might rent the bottom of a house and I might be your upstairs flatmate and it’s just that it’s controlled by a landlord as opposed to being controlled by you.”
Ben Sammut, mortgage broker with Mortgage Architects, has worked with Gaynor for more than two years and helped her plan the event.
“When she first introduced the idea to me, I was probably one of the only ones who really endorsed it,” he said.
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“It makes sense. It’s not that difficult from a financing perspective, but for some reason, people shy away because it’s a little unorthodox.”
About 25 people attended the event and were given a list of questions to ask prospective buyers.
“I would love to own a home in or around High Park or Roncesvalles,” said Matt Michaels, one of the event’s participants.
“As a 35 year-old who doesn’t have $400,000 for a down payment right now, it’s increasingly unlikely I would be able to do that on my own and I’m open to the idea of owning a home with like-minded people.”
Gaynor said she wants to stress that there is no expectation that participants need to exchange information and the evening was meant to open people up to the idea of co-operative purchasing.
“We are hoping people will meet and discuss their needs and they might go ‘hey, I really really like you and I could potentially buy a house with you’ with a solid legal agreement,” she said.