BY MICHAEL PRENTICE, SPECIAL TO THE OBJ September 10, 2008
When Jean-Louis and Colette Bellemare recently put their Rothwell Heights home on the market for $3.9 million, their neighbours nodded their heads knowingly. They probably weren’t surprised the Bellemares were asking so much, given the home’s spectacular “curb appeal” and its location, with commanding views across the Ottawa River to the Gatineau Hills.
Although this Rothwell Heights house has an asking price of $3.9 million, typical properties in the area cost a fraction of similar lots in Rockcliffe Park. (Darren Brown, OBJ)
But despite the neighbourhood’s panache, many people have lived for years – perhaps all their lives – in Ottawa without ever visiting Rothwell Heights, or even knowing quite where it is. The few hundred people who live there seem to like it that way.
Yet the $3.9-million asking price for the Bellemare home confirmed what many knowledgeable people in real estate have said for years: Rothwell Heights is second only to Rockcliffe Park as the place to live in Ottawa, for those that can afford it.
It’s possible, however, to find a home in Rothwell Heights today for perhaps half what such a property might cost in Rockcliffe Park.
That rough estimate comes from Marilyn Wilson, who specializes in selling high-priced Rockcliffe real estate but who says she “loves” Rothwell Heights.
Wilson says some of her clients start by looking to buy a home in Rockcliffe, but then opt to buy in Rothwell Heights when they see how much more affordable it is.
What does Rothwell Heights have over Rockcliffe, besides being more affordable?
It typically has larger lots, many of them heavily wooded. Residents say it’s more like living in the country, even though it’s only a few minutes further than Rockcliffe from the heart of Ottawa.
And plenty of homes in Rothwell Heights are on high ground, with views over the tree tops to Quebec. Rothwell Heights is situated just east of Blair Road, stretching from Montreal Road north almost to the Ottawa River.
But you have to be a lot richer, generally, to live in Rockcliffe than in Rothwell Heights. Homes can still be purchased in Rothwell Heights for around $400,000. That’s well above the city-wide Ottawa average of about $280,000, but you’d be lucky to find a single home for less than $800,000 in Rockcliffe.
In the first seven months of this year, 10 homes were sold in Rothwell Heights on the Ottawa Real Estate Board’s multiple-listing service at an average price of about $749,000.
Four of those homes – 40 per cent of the total – sold for less than $500,000, with the least expensive going for $405,000.
What do you get in Rothwell Heights for $405,000? You might be surprised how much. This is what the sales brochure from Keller Williams Ottawa Realty had to say about the approximately 40-year-old home that went for $5,000 below the asking price of $410,000: “Stone bungalow on big lot…Bright, spacious eat-in kitchen with patio doors to interlocking patio and large, two-tiered cedar deck…Inviting living room with gas fireplace…Spacious dining room…Finished lower level with large family room, games room and fourth bedroom with three-piece bathroom, great as in-law suite.”
The 10 Rothwell Heights homes sold from January to July were on the market for an average of about four weeks, which is slightly less than the city-wide average of five weeks.
Of the six least expensive homes sold in Rothwell Heights in that period, two went for more than list price and two were sold at list price, indicating the strength of demand to buy homes in that area.
Ms. Wilson, the real estate agent who recently listed the Bellemares’ digs at 41 Davidson Dr. for $3.9 million, says theirs is the highest-ever asking price in Rothwell Heights. But she sold a home in Rockcliffe several years ago for more than twice that amount.
Ms. Wilson says in her website listing of the Bellemare property: “The magnificent stone residence is only five years old and was designed to maximize the light and views. A flagstone entrance leads to the elegant, terrazzo-floored foyer with its antique chandelier and large guest cloak closet. French doors open to the grand foyer that showcases an elegant circular staircase. The circular foyer gives entry to the dining room, living room, kitchen, study and sitting room.”
The highest price paid for a home in Rothwell Heights in the first seven months of this year was $1,275,000 for a house at 4805 Massey Lane, built almost 30 years ago. The Royal LePage Performance Realty listing said: “Incredible property. Over half an acre backing on NCC land. Salt water inground pool. Distinguished brick home. Over 4,700 square feet of well designed space. Ideal for entertaining.”
What do you think that might cost in Rockcliffe?
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