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A ‘palatial property that feels like a home’ in the B.C.’s stunning Okanagan Valley

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Living in the lap of luxury never felt, looked or smelled so good.

Up on a hill overlooking British Columbia’s verdant Okanagan Valley, the 16,000-square-foot manor is surrounded by waving grasses, fragrant lavender and magnificent views of open space.

Floor-to-ceiling windows across the back of the house make the most of magnificent views.
Floor-to-ceiling windows across the back of the house make the most of magnificent views.  (Richard James Deacon / Buzz Photos)

Inside, light-filled rooms detailed with exquisite woodwork and comfy seating invite visitors to relax and enjoy the atmosphere.

“You have this feeling of your breath releasing when you’re there,” listing agent Richard James Deacon enthuses about the grand yet homey estate on the outskirts of Vernon, in southern B.C.

Designed as the owners’ “comfortable family retreat,” the home has been the site of numerous social gatherings and dinner parties for as many as 45 guests, he says. It can sleep 20 or more, for those who want to linger longer.

The homeowners, “successful, wealthy people” originally from the U.K., are warm-hearted “fun folks” who love to entertain, Deacon adds.

Sitting on five acres on Ravine Drive, the residence claims bragging rights to “one of the most prestigious addresses in Western Canada,” according to the realtor.

Terraced gardens produced a bounty of fragrant lavender and colourful shrubs.
Terraced gardens produced a bounty of fragrant lavender and colourful shrubs.  (Richard James Deacon)

Built by renowned local builder Heartwood Homes, the house makes the most of the sweeping views of mountains, lakes and valley that’s famous for vineyards and fruit orchards.

Double-height windows infuse the principal rooms with natural light while Swarovski crystal fixtures, maple inlay flooring and imported tile add another layer of luxury.

Detailing in American black walnut — perfected by craftsmen who worked full time on site for more than three years — fosters a connection to nature, says Deacon of Engel & Volkers Okanagan.

Cooking is a joy in the open kitchen where guests frequently gather.
Cooking is a joy in the open kitchen where guests frequently gather.  (Richard James Deacon)

The decorative wood features of the house, completed in 2007, continue with a collection of antique, handcrafted palace doors from India. One wall-mounted set, which Deacon calls “Narnia doors to nowhere,” adds a touch of whimsy.

The owners’ overseas travels have resulted in containers full of collected treasures being sent home, says Deacon. The art collection displayed throughout the house includes busts from Africa, hand-carved stone elephants from India and custom art from notable South African artists.

An ornately carved wooden swing from India is the ideal vantage point to enjoy panoramic views of the Okanagan Valley.
An ornately carved wooden swing from India is the ideal vantage point to enjoy panoramic views of the Okanagan Valley.  (Richard James Deacon)

A package of art, collectibles and custom-designed furnishings is being sold separate from the house, Deacon says. With homes in other parts of the world and an “amazing property” in Yorkshire, England, the family has decided it’s time to let this one go, he explains.

But it won’t be an easy parting after putting “so much of themselves” into it, says Deacon. There’s the “grand spa-like bathroom,” the chef’s kitchen and the wood-wrapped library that’s the go-to spot for reading or relaxing with an afternoon brandy.

Furnishings were custom-designed to suit the spacious rooms and homeowners' art collection from India and South Africa.
Furnishings were custom-designed to suit the spacious rooms and homeowners’ art collection from India and South Africa.  (Richard James Deacon)

And, in a nod to the owners’ heritage, there’s the Scottish bothy for quick retreats. Normally a basic cabin or warming hut left open for use by hikers or travellers, this one’s a cosy, well-equipped lounge and studio suite built on “the best spot on the lot,” says Deacon.

There’s also an outdoor kitchen, pool, mini orchard, Italian garden and terraced rows of lavender. The house has a theatre and full-home automation system controlled from a smartphone or tablet.

“The flow of the house is really smart,” with staircases on either side so you don’t have to backtrack, says Deacon.

A pair of handcrafted antique doors from Indian palaces flanks the entrance to a well-stocked wine cellar.
A pair of handcrafted antique doors from Indian palaces flanks the entrance to a well-stocked wine cellar.  (Richard James Deacon)

“I’ve been in tremendous homes around the world,” he says. “But — omigosh! — this is probably one of the nicest ones I’ve ever been in. It’s a palatial property that feels like a home.”

Carola Vyhnak is a Cobourg-based writer covering home and real-estate stories. She is a contributor for the Star. Reach her at cvyhnak@gmail.com

THE NUMBERS

Price: $16,868,000

Size: 16,658 sq. ft.

Bedrooms: 5

Bathrooms: 7 full, 3 half

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Victoria real estate agent disciplined for false advertising, encouraging cash deal to avoid taxes

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A Victoria real estate agent is facing $9,000 in fines and a 60-day licence suspension after breaking several professional rules during the sale of her father’s half-million-dollar property, according to a decision by the Real Estate Council of B.C. 

Whitney Garside’s missteps — outlined this week in a disciplinary decision posted on the council’s website — included falsely advertising the property as being almost twice its actual size and advising the buyer they could avoid the property transfer tax if they paid cash directly to the seller.

The property on Burnett Road in Victoria was being sold in 2016 by the real estate agent’s father. That relationship was disclosed and isn’t among the reasons she has been disciplined.

According to the disciplinary consent order, Garside told the buyer — whose name is redacted — that by paying $42,000 cash on the side, the value of the property could be reduced to avoid paying the property transfer tax.

That cash arrangement was not shared with Garside’s brokerage, Re/Max Camosun, a failure that contravened the Real Estate Services Act.

The council also ruled that she “failed to act honestly and with reasonable care and skill” when she advised the buyer the property transfer tax could be avoided by paying cash directly to the seller. 

The council’s discipline committee also found that Garside committed professional misconduct when she failed to recommend the seller and buyer seek independent legal advice, specifically regarding the property transfer tax and the cash agreement.

Another issue the council considered professional misconduct involved the size of the property in question.

The council ruled that Garside published false and misleading advertising and failed to act with reasonable care and skill when the property was advertised as 8,712 square feet, when in fact a portion of the lot belonged to the Ministry of Transportation, and the actual size was just 4,711 square feet.

The discipline committee ordered Garside’s licence be suspended for 60 days, which will be completed Jan. 3, 2021.

She has also been ordered to complete real estate ethics and remedial classes at her own expense.

Garside was also fined $7,500 as a disciplinary penalty and $1,500 in enforcement expenses.

She agreed to waive her right to appeal the council’s discipline committee’s decision in September.

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Frisco apartment community sells to Canadian investor

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A Canada-based investor has purchased a Frisco apartment community as part of a larger Texas deal.

The 330-unit Satori Frisco apartments opened last year on Research Road in Frisco.

BSR Real Estate Investment Trust bought the four-story rental community that was built by Atlanta-based Davis Development.

Satori Frisco was more than 90% leased at the time of sale. The property includes a two-story fitness center, a car care center, a dog park and a resort-style swimming pool.

The Frisco property sold along with Houston’s Vale luxury apartments in a deal valued at $129 million.

“BSR recently exited the smaller Beaumont and Longview, Texas, markets and also sold noncore properties in other markets,” John Bailey, BSR’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We are now using our strong liquidity position to invest in Vale and Satori Frisco, modern communities in core growth markets with the amenities our residents desire.”

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House prices on Prince Edward Island continue steady climb

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Residential real estate prices on Prince Edward Island continue to climb at a rate higher than the national average, according to the latest report from a national organization. 

The Canadian Real Estate Association released monthly figures for November 2020 on Tuesday.

They show that the average price for a resale home on P.E.I. is about 21 per cent higher than it was a year earlier. 

Only Quebec had a bigger year-over-year increase, at about 23 per cent. Overall across Canada, prices were up 13.8 per cent year over year in the ninth month of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For the fifth straight month, year-over-year sales activity was up in almost all Canadian housing markets compared to the same month in 2019,” the report noted.

“Meanwhile, an ongoing shortage of supply of homes available for purchase across most of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces means sellers there hold the upper hand in sales negotiations.”

That lack of houses coming onto the market compared to the demand means that in those provinces, there is “increased competition among buyers for listings and … fertile ground for price gains.”

There have been anecdotal reports for months that Prince Edward Island’s low rate of COVID-19 infection and looser rules around social activities have been encouraging people to buy homes on the Island. 

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