Luxury has a new price tag.
The 55th-floor penthouse of the new Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences Toronto has been sold for $28-million, the highest price ever fetched for a Canadian condominium. The buyer - who made the company sign a non-disclosure agreement - is from out of the country.
At about $3,000 a square foot, the 9,038-square-foot penthouse is a relative bargain by international standards. In New York, for example, a comparable property would hit the market at $5,000 a square foot.
"There's more demand than you would think for properties in this price range and the buyers come from all over the world," said Michael Braun, a Vancouver-based agent at Rennie & Associates Realty. "You're not talking about investors at this price - these are people who want a unique place to live."
The previous national sales record was held by Vancouver's Three Harbour Green, which sold for $22-million last year, or $2,300 per square foot.
The Four Seasons sale impressed even the most seasoned market watchers, although it is associated with one of the most luxurious hotel chains in the world. Isadore Sharp founded the company in Toronto in 1960, and expanded it into a global icon renowned for its customer service with more than 84 hotels in 34 countries.
Even so, $28-million is a lot of money for a condo, which comes with a 680-square-foot staff residence. But when it went on the market two years ago, the asking price was $30-million.
"For the same price as that penthouse, someone could buy an eight-storey office building in the city," said George Carras, president of RealNet Canada, which tracks the condo market in several Canadian cities. "Or a 14-storey apartment building. Or, 63 average-priced condos."
The sale isn't likely to wreak havoc in the broader market, because the new owner is essentially buying an entire floor of a Four Seasons hotel. The owner, and all other residents, can use all of the hotel's amenities, including room service and housekeeping. It all comes at a price: Condo fees are close to $7,000 a month.
The taller of the project's two towers contains 253 hotel suites, with 100 condos built atop. There is a 110-unit condo next door, and 85 per cent of the units are sold despite prices starting at about $1.9-million for a 1,000-square-foot unit.
"The penthouse gets the press, but the nuts and bolts of success is actually selling the other inventory," said Scott Woroch, executive vice-president of worldwide development for Four Seasons. "It's a great vote of confidence in this project specifically and the global brand in general."
Canada's real estate market has attracted investors from around the world since the recession, as buyers look to invest in properties that will retain their value.
It's estimated that as much as 60 per cent of new condo sales in Toronto are to investors who plan to rent them out. The average selling price is about $520 a square foot, according to data compiled by condo tracker Urbanation.
Anyone disappointed that they didn't get to buy atop the Four Seasons might consider the penthouse atop Vancouver's Shaw Tower, which is on the market for $19.5-million.
They could also look down the road to the planned Aura development in Toronto by Canderel, which at 75-storeys will be the tallest in Canada. Its penthouse is on the market for $17.5-million.
"There are pockets of international buyers who are looking in Canada, and while this all sounds like a lot of money, to them this isn't all that much," said Riz Dhanji, a vice-president at Canderel. "Five years ago, these sorts of prices were incomprehensible. But now the buyers are out there and they are willing to pay."
The most expensive home for sale in the country on Realtor.ca, which is maintained by the Canadian Real Estate Association, is a $27-million, 41,000-square-foot mansion in Montreal.