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Elli in Globe and Mail: Open the Vault – The Luxury Home Market is Back

The Luxury Home Market is Back

The Luxury Home Market is Back

Carolyn Ireland of the Globe and Mail interviewed Elli as part of her fascinating article on current trends in luxury real estate in Toronto. It is hard to imagine, but even in the multimillion dollar price range the supply cannot keep up to the demand. Read on to find out what happens when these distinctive homes go on the market.

Published in The Globe and Mail, Carolyn Ireland, 31 January 2014

On a snowy day in Rosedale last week, luxury cars lined the antique cobblestones in front of a neoclassical Georgian, and guests lingered near the warmth of a log fire in the main entrance hall.

Five Hawthorn Gardens had just hit the market with an asking price of $15.9-million and real estate agents were eager to view the splendours inside.

Welcoming agents to the busy open house were Elise Kalles of Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd. and Jimmy Molloy of Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd., who share the listing on the ravine property. They started receiving requests for showings as soon as word got out that the house would be hitting the market.

Agents say sales in the upper echelons of the market in Toronto are lively again after a moribund stretch that began in 2012.

Ms. Kalles believes buyers were hesitating as economic pundits warned of a possible downturn. But when a few buyers stepped up, a spate of “sold” signs appeared in areas such as Forest Hill, Rosedale and Teddington Park. Those deals bolstered confidence and spurred others to take action.

“These are landmark houses,” Ms. Kalles says. “It’s not like if this sells you can tell a client, ‘don’t worry – another one will come up.’”

Ms. Kalles recently sold a house on Riverview Drive for close to its $15-million asking price. A week ago, she represented prospective buyers who lost out on a house on Roxborough Drive in Rosedale. The house, which will likely be torn down, was listed for $1.9-million and drew four competing bidders.

Looking back to 2012 and 2013, many luxury properties languished as a list of global observers that included Deutsche Bank, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the International Monetary Fund, the Economist magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and marquee economist Nouriel Roubini all warned of frothiness in Canada’s housing market.

“I think that we had a lot of people who were sitting on the sidelines,” says Mr. Molloy. “People have been waiting for this correction. The correction never came.”

Mr. Molloy also reckons that the market has adjusted to the tighter restrictions on lending imposed by the federal government in July, 2012. Among other interventions, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty clamped down on high-ratio mortgages of more than $1-million as market watchers fretted about perilous levels of household debt.

Although corporate titans and entrepreneurs can often afford to pay cash for their high-priced real estate, many took out mortgages in years past to take advantage of low interest rates and maintain their investment in assets offering a higher return, Mr. Molloy says. “They had the money, but they had better uses for the money.”

Buyers have now absorbed the change and are taking some profits out of financial markets and shifting cash into property, he said. Still, he doesn’t see the upper end of the market getting overheated.

“When you’re dealing with that higher end, every deal is done prudently. Deals are being done at a high level, not a crazy level.”

He adds that people who want to live in great downtown neighbourhoods don’t have a lot of choice in listings. “There’s not an overwhelming supply of great product. There are people with $2-million or $3-million to spend and they’re frustrated.”

Sotheby’s International Realty Canada says that sales of Toronto homes of all types in the $2-million to $4-million range rose 17 per cent in 2013 compared with 2012. For houses above $4-million, sales swelled 52 per cent in the same period.

Ross McCredie, chief executive of Sotheby’s International Realty Toronto, says that a lack of listings in the single-family home market have made “attached homes” more popular and he predicts that trend will strengthen in 2014. Mr. McCredie believes condos, townhouses and row houses will see bidding wars as we head into the spring market.

In Leaside, meanwhile, workers are still installing the kitchen and nailing down the trim in a traditional, red brick house on Hanna Road. As soon as real estate agent Patrick Rocca placed a photograph with the words “coming soon” on his web site, he heard from prospective buyers.

“I’m getting people calling me about it and it’s not even finished. I don’t even have a sign on it yet.”

The asking price will be somewhere around $2.3-million.

In the past 10 days, Mr. Rocca says, he has sold two houses with asking prices above the $2-million mark and both received multiple offers.

One of the properties, near Edwards Gardens, received six offers and sold for more than $50,000 above the asking price.

Mr. Rocca believes one reason is that inventory shrunk after builders slowed down their rate of new construction. Last fall, he says, 17 or 18 houses priced north of $1-million were on the market in Leaside.

When people drive by lots of houses for sale and see them sitting, they become more hesitant to buy because they figure they might be able to hold out for a price cut. Houses are no longer sitting, and that boosts confidence in the market, Mr. Rocca says.

“You’re starting to see movement and, in some cases, really crazy movement. People are picking up that the high end is moving now.”

Real estate agent Elli Davis of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. has tallied nine deals in January and many of them were at prices above $2-million.

One house she sold this week in Forest Hill had previously been listed at a much higher price. The buyers were able to negotiate a price about seven per cent below the asking price and about 30 per cent below the original asking price with a different agent. She’s not seeing a lot of price cuts, but she says some sellers are unrealistic when they set the listing price.

“Ironically, she says the recent vigour in the market has made some homeowners more reluctant to list. “Now we’re getting seller resistance because they’re afraid they won’t be able to find anything to buy.”

In more moderate price ranges, multiple offers are continuing to amaze sellers, Ms. Davis says. This week she sifted through 24 offers on a semi-detached house listed for $499,000 near Leslie and Finch. The successful bidders paid $640,000, or $141,000 above asking.

Over three days, she had more than 150 showings, says Ms. Davis.

“I was getting calls all weekend, so I knew it would be very, very busy.”

Ms. Davis says the lack of supply in January is one reason that sellers get so many parties vying for one house.

“I really think that people have to realize that January and February are excellent months to put your house on the market.”

People who wait until the spring have to contend with the surge of listings that come out in April and May.

“The weather’s nicer but that doesn’t mean you can’t sell swimming pools in January. You just put photos out and let people dream.”

No Winter Slump on the Sellers’ Market: ‘It’s a 12-Month Business’

Susan Smith of the National Post spoke with Toronto Realtors, including Elli, about the current housing market and why it is a good idea to list your property for sale in the middle of winter.

by Susan Smith in National Post on 29/01/2014
national-postWinter tends to be a relatively slow time for selling real estate. But while many people wait for the spring thaw to list their property, slow season might just be the best time to attract a buyer. At least that’s the philosophy of Royal LePage veteran Elli Davis, who clinched eight deals in December and has been busy so far this month.

“I encourage people to list in December and January,”
she says, speaking from 30 years of experience.

“Many listings expire Dec. 31. But when I take a listing in September or October, I try to get it to the end of January to really cover that holiday season.”

Her reasoning has served her well over the years: Many people hunker down for the holidays or go south for the winter, so there’s not a lot of competing properties on the market. But there always seem to be buyers, their ranks filled by people with pre-approved mortgages due to expire and shoppers who don’t mind braving the cold to avoid the spring crowds.

One of her recent buyers was a retired professional with a house in the Yonge and Eglinton area. He and his wife, also retired, were ready to downsize and had security concerns about leaving their home when travelling and vacationing in Florida. Not thinking they were ready to buy immediately, they had a chat with Ms. Davis about what their house was worth and found themselves looking at condos.

Then they saw one they wanted and found themselves buying it. They got the 2,170-square-foot unit in a building in the Bay corridor close to Yorkville for just over $1-million, a bit under asking. No bidding war, which the buyers were happy to avoid.

“When everyone else is sleeping, lots can happen,” Ms. Davis says. “It’s a 12-month business. There are always buyers and sellers every single day.”

One of the deals Ms. Davis closed during the recent spell of frigid weather was a North York home that sold for $902,000, $114,000 over asking.

“That was an example of looking at it in mid-December and they were going to wait [to list], and I said, no, let’s do it now. There’s nothing on the market in your area.”

The timing was perfect, generating 13 offers and a quick sale.

Royal LePage’s latest house price survey is one of many reports showing the Toronto market finishing the year on a strong note, in line with the national average for Canada’s largest cities.

According to its figures, the average price of a standard two-storey home in the fourth quarter rose by 2.75% year-over-year to $686,000. This compares with a rise of 3.6% to an average of $418,000 nationwide for this type of property.

The average price of a detached bungalow in the city rose 3.9% to $580,000, compared with a rise of 3.8% to $381,000 for the country as a whole. For a standard two-bedroom, 900-sq.-ft. condominium, the rise was 1% to $360,000, compared with the national average of $247,000, a 1.2% rise.

The report predicts a continued “positive momentum” and a sellers’ market for the first half of the year.

According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, the average selling price in the GTA for December was $520,398 ­up 8.9% compared to the average of $477,756 in December, 2012.

“The average selling price will be up again in 2014 and by more than the rate of inflation,” said board president Dianne Usher. “The seller’s market conditions that drove price growth in the second half of 2013 will remain in place in many parts of the GTA.”

So why wait for spring, when everyone else lists?

Christopher Bibby, an agent with the Sutton Group in Toronto who specializes in condos, sold two properties in the week before Christmas. One was a loft at King and Spadina area that went for a little under asking at $415,000. The other, at King and Jarvis, attracted multiple offers and sold for $3,000 over asking for $372,000.

“Even during the ice storm there were agents out there, and a lot of people looked at it as an opportunity, and without a lot of competition out there, as a good time to go out and shop.”

Mr. Bibby says it can be a good time to list rather than wait, especially if a unit is sitting empty.

But in this market of ample inventory, with condos generally taking longer to sell, he says it’s more important than ever to make a good impression and stand out from the crowd. In other words, get rid of the crazy paint colours and spring for a good staging.

“The sellers have to be more hands-on and the agents have to be a lot more hands-on,” he says.

Standard tips for selling in winter include making the space look comfy and warm, lighting a fire or wooing buyers with the smell of baking cookies.

But like Mr. Bibby, Ms. Davis says it’s more important to get the basics right — declutter, make the place immaculate and send the pets away for a little holiday even if you’re not taking one of your own.

“I’m not a big cookie person,” she says. “Clean and presentable are much more important to me. Provide easy access, make sure the key is available, allow showings when people want to come.”

Done Deals: 66 Pricefield Road

66 Pricefield Road

66 Pricefield Road

“Priced to sell, Rosedale home gets two quick offers”
By Sydnia Yu in The Globe and Mail on Nov, 22 2013



ASKING PRICE $1,550,000

SELLING PRICE $1,625,000

TAXES $9,223 (2013)


LISTING AGENT Elli Davis, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.

The Action: Late in the summer, this semi-detached house was pitted against a few other Rosedale residences for sale, so it was priced at $1.55-million for better detection on buyers’ radar. Before the open houses could be held, two offers materialized after a dozen midweek showings.

What They Got: Across the street from a park and tennis courts of the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club, is a 25-by-115-foot lot supporting this three-storey, brick structure with an unfinished basement and private driveway.

Hardwood floors are a common feature in the living room, formal dining space and family room with a walkout to a flagstone patio, while tile was laid in a remodelled kitchen with stainless steel appliances.

On the top two levels, there are two out of three bathrooms, a fireside den on the second floor and three newly carpeted bedrooms.

The Agent’s Take: “It’s in a very good location in north Rosedale, adjacent to a park and an easy walk to Yonge Street,” says agent Elli Davis. “There are a good number of buyers waiting for a property like this that weren’t exceeding $2-million … because it wasn’t detached and it wasn’t gigantic.”

This property was also hassle-free compared to others. “It was in very good condition, it had some updates and renovations over the last several years,” Ms. Davis notes. “It has a private driveway at the rear of the house and that has a lot of appeal for buyers.”

National Post Feature: 93A & 95A Balmoral Avenue


“Deer Park”
by Connie Adair in National Post on 16/11/2013

The National Post recently featured Elli’s listing at 93A and 95A Balmoral Avenue in their Resale Homes section which highlights unique properties for sale.

Deer Park
93A/95A Balmoral Ave.
(Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue)
Asking price: $1.595-million
Taxes: $8,579 (2013)
Bedrooms: 2+1
Bathrooms: 3
MLS# C2731873

“I have never had a property like this listed in my 30-year career,” says listing agent Elli Davis. “It features two separate homes, which I believe were once coach houses or garages in a private courtyard off Balmoral Avenue.”

The interiors have been renovated, and both feature modern bathrooms, built-ins and chef ’s kitchens that have custom cabinetry.The home at 93A offers two bedrooms and about 980 square feet of living space plus a 600-sq.-ft. lower level. Features include a fireplace in the combination living and dining room, a centre island in the kitchen and a cathedral ceiling and a three-piece ensuite bathroom in the master suite.


93a main living area

The second home is a bungalow that has about 637 square feet. It has a skylight in the open-concept kitchen, a combination living and dining room and a bedroom with a three-piece ensuite bathroom.

“The two homes must be purchased together,” Ms. Davis says. “The homes face one another, rather than being side by side, and tearing them down and building one large home is not an option.”

The 34×84-foot property is close to yonge and St. Clair. It’s within walking distance of up scale shops, restaurants, parks and public transit. The property has four parking spots.

Listing Broker: Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. (Elli Davis)


National Post Solds: 767 Spadina Rd.

767 Spadina Road

767 Spadina Road

“Classic charisma, period details inside and out form a good
foundation for an update of this traditional home”
by Connie Adair in National Post on 08/10/13


767 Spadina Rd. (Spadina Road and Eglinton Avenue)
Asking price: $1.35-million
Sold for: $1.25-million
Taxes: $9,052 (2013)
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 4
Time on the market: 19 days

Seven sixty-seven Spadina Rd. has been in the same family for more than 60 years, says listing agent Elli Davis. The two-storey detached Tudor-style home features leaded glass windows in the living room, a separate dining room and an eat-in kitchen that has built-in appliances.

Four bedrooms plus a den are on the second floor. The master suite has a walk-in closet and a four-piece ensuite bathroom. One bedroom has leaded glass. The den has a built-in bookcase and a walkout to a balcony.

The lower level has a recreation room and a two-piece bathroom.
An attached one-car garage and a private driveway are features of the 50×120-foot lot. It’s close to restaurants, shopping, public transit, parks and schools.

Listing Broker: Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. (Elli Davis)


Elli’s Listing in the Globe and Mail

58 Rowanwoods avenue

58 Rowanwoods avenue

Published in The Globe and Mail , 12 September 2013

By Sydnia Yu


ASKING PRICE: $2,375,000

SELLING PRICE: $2,420,000

PREVIOUS SELLING PRICES: $1,310,000 (2005); $1,260,000 (2004)

TAXES: $12,485 (2012)


LISTING AGENT: Elli Davis, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.

The Action: This semi-detached home’s two-bedroom plan catered to a smaller pool of buyers, so there were just over two dozen showings this summer. The price was reduced after a month, which brought out a serious buyer and a $2.42-million deal close to the original list price.
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What They Got: In one half of the more than century-old, heritage structure is this three-storey portion on a 35-by-126-foot lot with a private driveway and detached double garage.

The interiors were recently renovated, so it has a modern eat-in kitchen with a pantry and top-of-the-line appliances, a dining room with a built-in bar and a living room with a gas fireplace, skylights and patio doors to a walled-in backyard with a built-in barbecue and fountain.

Areas for studies include an office in the basement and a fireside library on the second floor, which also accommodates one bedroom and stairs to a third-floor master retreat with a deck and largest of four bathrooms.

The Agent’s Take: “It was a little different because it was a large home made into two smaller homes in the ninties,” agent Elli Davis said. “It’s a gorgeous semi-detached home with a garage … and was beautifully decorated and renovated with top designer tastes and finishings.”

Buyers also fancied the proximity to extensive parkland, the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club and to upscale bistros and boutiques. “You can walk to Yonge Street, so that had a lot of appeal,” Ms. Davis added.

Editor’s Note: Done Deals contain information gathered from real estate agents, home buyers, home sellers and sale prices that are publicly available from government sources. While we try to publish Done Deals as soon as possible after the transaction has occurred, long closings can cause delays.