576 BROOKDALE AVE., TORONTO
Asking price: $1.994-million
Taxes: $10,323.84 (2011)
Agent: Jennifer Spring Levy (JSL Realty Corp. Brokerage)
The back story:
Homeowner Jeff Levy (brother of the agent) is a mortgage specialist and lawyer specializing in real estate. In his capacity as managing partner of law firm Porco Levy Zavet, the 34-year old works and consults daily with realtors, developers, homeowners and investors. When he saw this North Toronto address come across his desk more than a year ago with a list price of $1.3-million he considered it undervalued.
“A house a few doors down had sold for over $1.5-million earlier that year,” says Mr. Levy, a former investment banker. “In the City of Toronto, prices in Bedford Park-North have risen by over 10 per cent each year. That would have made it worth at least $1.5-million to $1.6-million in 2010.”
He swooped in, putting in an offer at close to asking before inspecting it. He made the rounds later the same day, relying on his industry expertise and his eye for detail to determine whether his instincts had been correct. It turned out they were: “I inspected the foundation and structure by going straight to the basement cold rooms, and by looking under the staircases,” Mr. Levy says. “I immediately took notice that the house’s foundation is solid poured concrete over a foot thick with steel beams supporting every floor in the house. It was built like Fort Knox.”
That’s all he needed to know – that the house was solidly built – because he knew going in he would change everything, from the roof right down to the blue-grey colour scheme on the interior walls.
“The house was built in the 1990s. It was then a contemporary modern design, offering the best in home design for the time – an architect’s and interior designer’s dream home.” Mr. Levy says. “With over 44 windows on the main floor alone and two oversized custom double doors to the backyard, on a sunny day the house on the inside has the feeling of a beautiful courtyard.”
Still , he wanted to put his own stamp on the place and so spent two months planning and designing before commencing an extensive six-month renovation that ended up costing “a few hundred thousand,” Mr. Levy says. “I totally renovated the entire house, the interior and exterior. I treated it as if I was going to live in it for the rest of my life, and with that in mind there was no sense in overlooking any aspect of the house.
“I even changed the colours of the exterior and added a new roof to match the colours of the exterior, which in turn match the colours of the interior.”
Everything in the home was remodelled and enhanced, Mr. Levy says, including the washrooms, a new kitchen and electrical and plumbing.
“The house was completely rewired for a state of the art surround-sound multicontrol speaker and music system,” says Mr. Levy, pointing out an innovation to the house of which he’s most proud. Speakers have been built into the walls and ceilings on every floor, and the homeowner has the ability to control the music and volume in every room separately through remote controls or any smartphone or tablet computer. Every light switch and fixture was changed to LED, helping to reduce electrical costs by two-thirds.
Mr. Levy also said he was careful to use materials that would be appealing both now and into the future. “Natural, high-quality Italian stones like marbles and granites have an everlasting appeal and quality.
The ceilings are at least 13-feet high, lending a feeling of airiness. That spaciousness is felt particularly in the interconnected living/dining rooms, which boast large classical-style columns wrapped in modern mosaics of marble, glass and stainless steel tile. The main floor area has a stainless steel-wrapped 10-foot high fireplace, which Mr. Levy feels twists the feel of the home in an avant-garde direction. “With music resonating from speakers embedded in every wall, natural light piercing from every window and a Hollywood-style floating staircase with a brushed steel railing, the entire main floor truly is impressive. It’s like your very own surreal hotel.”