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Vancouver home lists for C$63m in buoyant market
[VANCOUVER] A waterfront mansion on a Vancouver street known as Billionaires' Row is on the market for C$63 million (S$66.2 million) - a record listing in a market where rapid home-price gains are seemingly unstoppable.
Perched above a popular beach, the manor features expansive views of downtown Vancouver and snow-capped mountains across the bay. It's owned by local business titan Joseph Segal and his wife, Rosalie, who are well-known as philanthropists in the city. The asking price is the highest ever for a residential single-family home listed in Greater Vancouver, according to Sotheby's International Realty Canada, which represents the sellers.
"Why do people sell? Because they have a change of life," Segal, 92, said in a phone interview. "Life is a runway. I'm finished cruising and now I'm descending." The 92-year-old president of Kingswood Capital Corp., who has four children, adds with a chuckle, "They can't afford it. Besides, how do you divide a house in four?" The lofty price tag underscores the ever-escalating home values in Canada's most expensive city, which has defied a succession of government efforts to cool gains, as well as concerns about the near-collapse of alternative-mortgage lender Home Capital Group Inc. The price of the average detached house in Vancouver climbed 5 per cent to a record C$1.8 million in May, while the number of properties sold was the third-highest ever for that month.
Christa Frosch, the Sotheby's listing agent, declined to say how long it might take to find a buyer. But a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers introduced last August, that would add more than C$9 million to the listed price, is unlikely to dissuade any deep-pocketed overseas investors who would consider the property, she said.
"This is a very unique property - there are not very many people in the world who would be looking at this," she said by phone. "They will love and understand its value. Fifteen percent won't affect that buyer." The Segals' five-bedroom, 12-bathroom residence boasts more than 1,950 square meters of living space on a 0.5-hectare lot, according to Sotheby's. It's located on Belmont Avenue, home to five of the region's 10 most expensive properties.
The house features gallery halls that can seat up to 100 guests for private concerts, a six-car garage, an indoor pool surrounded by white arches and a double-height foyer lined with paintings. The listed price includes light fixtures, such as the chandelier originally from a French chateau which fell into the possession of Benito Mussolini during World War II before it was returned to its owners and sold, Mr Segal said.
While Vancouver's lure as a magnet for global cash has sparked local criticism of foreign property owners inflating the market, the story behind the owners of 4743 Belmont Ave is a quintessentially Canadian one.
Segal left school at 14 when his father died and later joined the Canadian army penniless to fight in World War II. His road to riches began after the war, when he purchased military surplus goods that no one else wanted - starting with 2,000 cans of olive paint that he convinced farmers to buy to beautify their dilapidated barns, Mr Segal said.
"Nobody would even take them to dump them," he said. "I bought them for 25 cents a gallon and sold them for C$2." From there he built an empire spanning retail, manufacturing and real estate, including founding Fields Stores Ltd, a no-frills chain that became a fixture in many rural towns across western Canada. The holdings of his family's Vancouver-based conglomerate Kingswood Capital Corp. today include interests in crib maker Stork Manufacturing Inc, a Vancouver television broadcaster, and commercial, industrial and residential real estate developments in the region.
Mr Segal says he's in no rush to sell.
"I don't need the money," he says. "I want someone who will respect and treasure it."