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The Bear Stand retreat rises from the Haliburton Highlands

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Rising out of the Haliburton Highlands, The Bear Stand — named for the area’s past hunting legacy — is a spectacular retreat.

Built for Sharon Leece and her husband Joe Magrath, who grew up spending summers in the area, the 3,300-square-foot home sits on nearly 100 acres of woodland. It has 1,300 feet of uninterrupted shoreline on Contau Lake, and Crown lands beside and behind it.

The home’s lower level contains the living and dining spaces that look onto the lake and a rock face with expansive windows. The focal point of the main floor is a double-height, granite fireplace. There’s one guest suite on the lower level and another on the upper level where the master suite is located, along with a bunk room with four beds, and a den with a view to the lake and the surrounding forest.

The Bear Stand, three hours northeast of Toronto, is available for rent and also features a private sauna, ofuro soaking tub and hot tub.

Building materials include local blue granite for the fireplace, cedar exterior siding, Douglas fir glulam beams, wire-brushed walnut flooring, benches and bar tops reclaimed from a nearby farm.

The Bear Stand took five years to design and build and was completed in 2016.

Robert Miller, principal architect, and project manager Kyle Phillips, both with the Seattle firm Bohlin, Cywinski, Jackson, answered a few questions about The Bear Stand.

What was your inspiration for the design?

Robert: We spent quite a bit of time with Sharon and Joe and their daughter on the site, hearing stories about them growing up there and how the families used the lake. That was really an inspiration being on that site, trying to connect with the natural environment.

The fireplace is massive and dramatic — how did its design evolve?

Kyle: The fireplace is a centrepiece of the living space — it grows out of that camping idea where everyone is gathered around the fireplace.

Robert: There’s a lot going on there. It’s double-height, double-sided with a skylight above which brings light down to the base of the stonework. If you walk around the fireplace mass you have a screened-in porch outside with a fireplace there as well as one on the second floor in the master bedroom.

What challenges did you face?

Robert: There are serious rock outcroppings; that’s one of the beauties of the area but also one of the challenges. We have good contractors who are used to dealing with that. It was a bit of an unknown going into construction. We knew there would be rock there but we didn’t know the quality of the rock underneath. They ended up having to blast out additional rock just because the rock had been fragmented a bit. That part of the project took a little bit of extra effort.

Owners love the modern design, pristine landscape

Sharon Leece offers a few thoughts about her family’s retreat:

  • What did you want from the design? As a Shanghai-based, Canadian-British family, we wanted to build an indoor-outdoor vacation home that fused our passion for contemporary design with a pristine natural environment. We wanted a natural material palette and an unobtrusive form, so the house would blend seamlessly with the site and surrounds and not upstage the incredible landscape.
  • What is your favourite part? We love the fact that from every angle there are forest and lake views — reminding us we’re at home in the heart of nature.
  • What do your guests love about it? They’re fascinated by the fact it’s contemporary and comfortable at the same time. They love the indoor-outdoor connectivity, and the views of nature from different angles. We designed the house so multi-generation families can enjoy it — everyone having their own privacy yet being able to gather in the great room or the screen room, or through activities. They also love the screened-in ofuro soaking tub off the master bedroom suite. The combination of steaming hot water, pine forest aromas and the freshest air is really unbeatable.

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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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