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The house that could break $3 million ceiling

33 Heather St.

THE BACKYARD of 33 Heather Rd., with Tucker on guard.

Leaside flirted with a real estate milestone this summer, seeing its first  listing  above the $3 million mark.

The four-bedroom, six-bathroom home at 33 Heather Rd., which has since been removed from MLS listings, weighs in at 5,400 square feet and sits on an 80-by 150-foot lot, said to be more than double the neighbourhood norm.

Previously the highest listing in Leaside was $2.9 million for a house on Divadale with a 4,100 sq. ft. interior on a 47-by 155-foot lot.

When first listed on MLS the asking price for the Heather house was nearly $3.5 million. It is now an exclusive listing for Charlene Kalia and Erin Ashby, with Chestnut Park, with no price shown.

The house owner, hockey player- turned-broadcaster Nick Kypreos, whose family has lived there since they bought and renovated it in 2004, says, “I believe that Leaside is still undervalued when it comes to where property sits in this location.”

Leaside, he says, may well be one of the best-located neighbourhoods in the city.

“Ten, 15 years from now, people are going to understand why now there’s $2 and $3 million  dollar homes in Leaside.”

“Up until a year and a bit ago I think there had only been two homes that sold in the $2.5 milllion range, and all of a sudden, now it’s not an uncommon number,” says Patrick Rocca of Bosley Real Estate.

This year alone, says  Carol Wrigley, of Royal LePage,  eight houses have sold over the $2 million mark.

Richard Byford says the Heather house sold for $740,000 when his firm, Bonnie Byford Real Estate, handled the deal in August 1989.

Back then, a few months could have made a big difference and a bigger price tag. The market had peaked in April.

But even back then, the house was a rare case, selling for several times more than the typical value of a detached home, he says.

“Don’t use this for a barometer. “It’s a unique-sized  piece of land, a unique house, and a unique street.”

But local realtors and residents alike have been speculating about what could happen if the Leaside homes start selling for above $3 million.

As the benchmark gets pushed higher and higher, the impact will be seen among both buyers and sellers, says Wrigley.

Leasiders looking to sell their homes will have higher expectations of what they should ask, expectations not always on the mark, as many factors go into home valuation.

Meanwhile, the many deep-pocketed builders buying older, smaller Leaside homes to convert and flip could be encouraged to bid higher if they know there’s a precedent for sales at the top end of the spectrum.

“If a builder will get $2.4 million for  a new house  he just  created, he might be willing to spend $1.2-1.4 million for a house he’s just going to knock down. So that raises the bar for the smaller older houses,”  says Byford.

“If they were happy to blow away a bungalow, they might now be happy to blow away two-storey, three-bedroom homes if the price is right and the location is right.”

The Heather house, built in 1902 for John Edmund Lea, grandson of the neighbourhood’s namesake, became Leaside’s grandest farmhouse.

John Edmund’s grandfather, John  Lea, came from  Lancashire, England, in 1819 to settle in the area.

That first house can be felt in the current home’s feel, partly from stained-glass windows from the original farmhouse and a wrap-around porch.

The porch was part of the renovation Kypreos finished in 2004 before getting settled. The main addition was a big family room facing the backyard from inside a six-sided turret.

“It seems to be the hottest seat during the winter games in the backyard,” Kypreos said.

Those games are played in a wintertime hockey rink, 33 by 54 feet, roughly a quarter the NHL regulation size.  It comes complete with four-foot boards and mesh nets to prevent run-away pucks, not to mention four floodlights to keep the game going into the night.

The backyard also  has a playground, complete with two swings and two slides, and still has lots of space.

The house doesn’t squarely face the street, like all its neighbours. Instead, its door is to the driveway – the original country path, once known as Heather Lane.

The front still boasts the original brick.

With three kids  who share his love for the national pastime, Kypreos said hockey parties have become something of a tradition over the past six years.

“The highlight was four years ago when I was able to bring the Stanley Cup and skate a lap with it in the backyard,” says Kypreos, who won hockey’s greatest prize in 1994 with the New York Rangers.