In many pockets of Toronto, the fall real estate market began to run out of steam as November wound down. One deal that snuck in under the wire was the sale of 412 Lake Front for $6.1-million.
The price sets a new high-water mark for the Beaches, says real estate agent Thomas Neal, who represented the seller.
The original asking price of $8-million shocked many market watchers when the house was listed in April, 2012.
"In marketing at the high end, you have to test the market," says Mr. Neal, of Royal LePage Estate Realty. "You have to see what the market will bear."
His approach, he says, was to contemplate, "How much is that view worth?"
The property, set right on the shore of Lake Ontario, overlooks a sandy bay. It was built in the Arts & Crafts style in the 1920s and rebuilt by the current owner about six years ago.
"You walk right out onto the sand," says Mr. Neal. "The water is at your front door."
Toronto-based architect Sharon McKenzie restored many original features after the house had been divided up over the years. Today the house has four levels with multiple terraces, a wine tasting room, a putting green and a swimming pool with glass walls.
Mr. Neal says the previous milestone in the neighbourhood was about $4-million – and that property is not on the water. The seller of No. 412 is satisfied with the outcome after approximately a year and a half on the market and a couple of failed bids.
Lots of overseas buyers had a look around, says Mr. Neal, because many still consider Toronto real estate a good value compared with other markets.
The buyers are a couple who first saw the property in August, then returned for another showing and finally made an offer. They already own properties in Boston and London and plan to live with their daughters in the Lake Front house when they are in Toronto.
For his part, Mr. Neal didn't really mind that the property was on the market for 204 days.
"I attended every showing," he says. "It was a nice place to hang out in the summer."
The current owner is a businessman who spends a lot of time in the United States. Since he is seldom home to enjoy the amenities, he decided to sell.
Mr. Neal interviewed the prospective buyers who wanted to look at the property so he wasn't wasting his time satisfying the curiosity of the masses. There were no public open houses and no agent's open houses, he adds.
There's an art to selling in the rarified air of high-priced real estate, Mr. Neal says: when he suspected a potential buyer didn't have sufficiently deep pockets, he politely claimed a prior engagement at the requested time. If they didn't persist, he figured they were never serious in the first place..
Lowering the asking price to $7.5-million in June, 2012 sparked a couple of offers, he says, but the parties weren't able to negotiate a deal.
The final agreement came after about a week of back-and-forth between Mr. Neal and Brucyne Sud of Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd., who represented the current owners, he says. The two sides negotiated over price, timing and smaller details.
"The buyer and seller are successful people in business," Mr. Neal said. " You try and take the confrontation out of it. You have to be careful how you proceed and be respectful of their time."
He adds that buyers in this price range typically don't worry about the economy or the direction of interest rates so the sale doesn't tell us a lot about the market as a whole.
Such buyers can choose to live anywhere so the decision to buy another property is more of a lifestyle choice than a need.
"My seller was certainly under no pressure to sell and the buyers were under no pressure to buy," he says. "Everybody has to end up happy."