Montreal mansion sale could be "one heck of a bargain"

Something a little different for Friday ......

A retired businessman whose plans to travel the world with his wife were delayed because their $5.5-million mansion wouldn’t sell has decided to gamble on an absolute auction, where there are no minimum bids required.

Theoretically, it means that the five-acre estate once priced at $5.5-million in the Multiple Listing Service could be sold for less than $1-million.

“That’s a pretty scary thought,” said owner John Hooper, 70, former CEO of the now-defunct Phoenix International Life Sciences Inc.

“Somebody might get one heck of a bargain.”

Stacy Kirk Reich, president of the U.S.-based Grand Estates Auction Co., which is organizing the sale, said it’s the first time such an auction has been held in Quebec, and possibly in all of Canada. In order to register for next Tuesday’s bidding, potential buyers must have a $100,000 cheque.

Mr. Hooper and his wife, Diane Bradshaw, built the eight-bedroom waterfront mansion in Hudson, a Montreal suburb, in 2000, following the sale of Mr. Hooper’s shares in Phoenix.

But the house hasn’t sold in two years of trying and was becoming a liability. Municipal and property taxes alone cost more than $34,000 a year in 2008, the original listing shows.

Once a family of six, with two children each from previous marriages, the couple now live alone in the 17,000-square foot home, inspired by the English country manors Mr. Hooper saw as a child while growing up in a modest home in England.

Mr. Hooper said he and Ms. Bradshaw, 65, want to buy a small home in the Montreal area, and start their global trip with two plane tickets to Italy.

“I’ve travelled the world before, but mostly saw hotels and airports,” he said. “Now I’m 70, it’s time to see the world. This gives us an assured sale.”

Grand Estates will get 10% of the sale price, including a commission for the referring broker, who in this case tried unsuccessfully to sell the home for a year. A previous broker also tried for a year to sell the mansion.

It almost sold twice to foreign buyers. Mr. Hooper said he had a signed promise to purchase with a U.S. resident, but that fell through. Another deal with a Chinese buyer was close to being inked when the purchaser realized it would take longer to immigrate to Canada than expected.

Source: Allison Lampert, Postmedia News


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