Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Toronto Mansion sells for over $15million!

Mansion goes for a cool $15.8 million

In what is believed to be a record selling price for a residential property in Toronto, an opulent Forest Hill mansion has been purchased for $15.8 million.

The 16,000 square foot Dunvegan Rd. home has eight bedrooms, 13 washrooms and an indoor six-car garage.

The sale of the home in one of the city's toniest neighbourhoods demonstrates the strength of the luxury home market in Toronto, fuelled by stellar returns on Bay Street as the Toronto Stock Exchange hits record levels.

But a new high-water mark for homes has tongues wagging in real estate circles. How much further can we go?

The sale of the property this week comes on the heels of yesterday's Toronto Real Estate Board report that recorded 10,451 sales in June – the best such month ever, and up 20 per cent over June of 2006.

"It has been a good year," said Ilenna Tai, the listing agent who now holds the distinction of selling the most expensive home in Toronto. Tai says the sale is a city record according to Multiple Listing Service records. The listing service, however, does not include private sales, which are not on the public record.

Without irony, the agent calls the home a "great bargain" at the price, since a 2004 appraisal came up with a home replacement value of $14 million – without the land.

The sellers were Raymonde Sacklyn and Cecilia Ying Lee, who previously lived in Hong Kong. Sacklyn heads a financial information service in Hong Kong and has written extensively about the history of the Hong Kong stock exchange. The couple has also donated millions to local charities in Toronto.

The couple bought the home at the bottom of the market in 1997, when it was the former home of George Eaton, of Eaton's department store fame.

Sacklyn and his wife spent millions refurbishing the home, including almost a million dollars of Muskoka peach granite just for the driveway.

The house sits on two normal Forest Hill lots stretching 150 feet by 170 feet, and has a bar, a home theatre, gym, massage room and sauna. There are, of course, separate cellars for red and white wines. The eccentric owner has also placed some whimsical touches around the home, including bits of his poetry carved on the granite rocks in the garden, and parking spaces for visitors that say "For Rolls-Royces only."

"The buyers were wowed by the grandeur of the home, the gardens, and the location," said buying agent Elli Davis.

So wowed, in fact, that it took the buyers, who wish to remain anonymous, only a week to make an offer after they initially viewed the property, said Davis.

The home was originally on the market for several months in 2004, at the unheard of price of $25 million. It was listed again in May of this year for $16 million.

"They weren't interested in it at $25 million, but certainly at $16 million they decided to take a look," said Davis. "So even at this level – price does matter."

Tai says the high Canadian dollar helped with the sale, since the Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar. With the loonie closing in at par with the U.S. dollar, the vendors are getting roughly the return they expected back in 2004, said Tai.

Still, analysts have warned that any downturn in the fortunes of the TSX will have a big impact on the luxury market, since discretionary purchases are usually the first on the chopping block.

Bay Street financiers, flush with bonus money, have been spending on cars and homes.

It is believed that former Bank of Montreal CEO Tony Comper, for example, paid $15 million for a new, yet-to-be-occupied 8,500 square foot penthouse at One St. Thomas St. – the most yet for a condo in the city.

Meanwhile, a forecast by Royal LePage released this week estimates that the average Torontonian will see a much more moderate increase in house prices. Average resale homes by the end of 2007 will have increased by a moderate 5 per cent, according to the firm.

With the Bank of Canada poised to increase interest rates next week to cool inflationary pressures that include the heated real estate market, economists are calling for a slowdown in the second half of the year. Meanwhile, the new home owners, who are expected to close the sale this year, will likely escape a controversial real estate levy in Toronto that would double the provincial land transfer tax.

If the buyers had chosen to close on the deal next year, they would have had to pay an extra $312,000 in land transfer taxes.

Read more on Toronto Real Estate Prices

Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) Average Prices and Graph

For more information please contact A. Mark Argentino

A. Mark Argentino, Broker, P.Eng.,
Specializing in Residential & Investment Real Estate
RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc., Brokerage
2691 Credit Valley Road, Suite 101, Mississauga, Ontario L5M 7A1

BUS. 905-828-3434
FAX. 905-828-2829


  1. Higher interest rates may hurt the market a little bit in the east, but here on the west coast they seem to have no affect, at least not yet. Homes are still selling like hot cakes.

  2. What a beautiful home! I can't believe that someone would actually engrave "For Rolls Royce's Only". Too funny!

  3. I guess when you have that much money you can put whatever you want on your driveway!

    All the best,