Canada 's Most Expensive Homes
Lauren Kerensky, 01.31.07, 12:01 AM ET
Brokers in the Great White North are seeing an awful lot of green these days, and we're not talking about what's hidden under melting snow.
Though the country is a latecomer to the multimillion-dollar housing market, and property remains relatively inexpensive when compared with cities like London, New York and San Francisco, Canada 's real estate market is on the rise. And while the American dollar might buy you a slightly larger McMansion there than in the U.S. , the asking prices are no bargain.
“The housing market has been robust and is related to the overall good health of the economy,” says Phil Soper, the president and CEO of Royal LePage Real Estate Services--one of the country's largest brokerages--referring to low unemployment, strong consumer confidence and modest interest rates. “In particular, there is a lot of wealth in the Baby Boomer demographic, which drives a lot of the high-end transactions and pushes up the values of luxury homes.”
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According to Royal LePage's Carriage Trade Luxury Properties Report, the number of homes in Calgary, Alberta , costing $1 million Canadian increased 160.4% from third-quarter 2005 to third-quarter 2006. Greater Vancouver saw a 57.2% increase while Greater Toronto, Montreal and Victoria all saw the numbers of $1 million homes rise 20%.
Such statistics may elicit a chuckle from Americans, where $1 million buys a large one-bedroom Manhattan apartment. But in a country where, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), the average home cost $280,816 Canadian (about $238,810) in November 2006, multimillion-dollar properties make headlines. The CREA represents 88,000 of Canada 's real estate brokers and agents, and also regularly analyzes and disseminates data on significant Canadian housing conditions.
The Total Package
Canada boasts breathtaking scenery that includes snowy mountains, waterways and lush foliage, and it is possible to get a view of all three in one shot. This, of course, comes at a price.
The 14-acre Edgemere Estate, built in 1907 on Lake Ontario 's Gold Coast, for example, occupies the No. 1 spot on our list. For $45 million Canadian (approx. $38.3 million), buyers will get not only plenty of land, but nine bedrooms, 17 bathrooms, a 21-seat theater and a private pebble beach.
Properties like this fall into a category of what Soper calls “legacy homes.” These are primary residences that are often 100 years old and situated in ritzy neighborhoods. Newly built million-dollar properties tend to be luxury condominiums--though, as the price of land continues to rise, more Canadians are knocking down existing houses and building new ones. It is rare, Soper says, that the estates priced at $1 million Canadian are purchased as second residences or as investments.
In Toronto , the country's commerce and banking center, buyers have been attracted by the area's parklands and golf course properties. These include Cedar Brae Golf & Country Club, Lambton Golf & Country Club and Rosedale Golf Club, which includes the eight-bed, 11-bath Teddington Park home that ranks No. 2 on our list.
Though “things were slow over Christmas,” says Maribell White, a Chestnut Park real estate broker and one of the Teddington Park estate listing agents, “they are picking up quickly. There were two sales on [the Canadian Multiple Listing Service] over $6 million Canadian in one week.”
Given its industry, Toronto tends to attract wealthy executives as well as deep-pocketed immigrants. Recently, Soper says, an affluent family from the Middle East purchased a home in the new Ritz Tower for $10 million Canadian, primarily because their children will be attending the University of Toronto .
But it is Vancouver Island, West Vancouver and Whistler, all situated in British Columbia , that have the highest concentration of expensive homes on our list.
Those looking to buy in Victoria are increasingly willing to pay top dollar to enjoy the area's mild climate rife with boating and fishing opportunities, as they seek oceanfront property whose availabity is becoming limited. Victoria is British Columbia's capital on the south end of Vancouver Island overlooking the Pacific Ocean .
“It is not uncommon to pay $7 million to $10 million for a luxury condominium on the waterfront in Vancouver ,” Soper says. Here, one 11,000-square-foot home with five bedroom suites, a wine cellar, oceanside patio and boathouse that spans 200 feet of natural shoreline sold in 2005 for $17 million Canadian ($14.4 million), after only a week on the market.
Most recently, though, Whistler, the host city for the 2010 Winter Olympics and home to world-famous ski resorts, has captured high-end buyers' attention. Adventurous elite athletes and wealthy investors alike have honed in on the area's magnificent homes, many of which are situated directly on the slopes. Our list includes three properties in the heart of Whistler, one of which is a steel-and-concrete manse on the downhill course of Whistler Mountain that includes a second lot big enough for a 5,000-square-foot additional building.
With pricey property at a premium, developers are getting in on the action. In April, S&P Destination Properties will begin marketing the first phase of Marine Drive Properties' $650 million Canadian Wyndansea Oceanfront Golf Resort on Vancouver Island 's West Coast. The resort will include 30 custom-built, oceanfront homes on lots ranging from one-half to three-quarters of an acre with prices starting at $1.5 million Canadian. One of these lots is already taken--by golf legend Jack Nicklaus.
Despite the influx of Canadian properties with million-dollar price tags, it may be a while before the country is known for its luxury real estate. After all, as Elise Kalles, a broker with Harvey Kalles Real Estate, said when speaking about a $10 million Canadian listing, “That's a lot for Canada .”
Indeed it is, and it may even be a lot for the average millionaire, but those looking to cash in on these “cheap” properties better do so fast.
Things up north are certainly starting to heat up.
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