Abandoned, mouldy Toronto mansion sells for $3.4M in 'good deal': realtor

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Published Jan. 15, 2019 3:10 p.m. ET
Updated Jan. 15, 2019 4:46 p.m. ET
Video of the home shows a ransacked interior with a peeling ceiling, broken cabinetry, as well as mould and water damage. (RE/MAX)

Despite the toxic mould, peeling ceilings, and animal excrement, a large mansion sitting on an expansive piece of property on Toronto’s waterfront has sold for a whopping $3.45 million.

The dilapidated 13,000 square-foot home at 4 Birchmount Rd. in Scarborough made headlines last spring when it was put on the market with an asking price of $3.8 million.

Normand Gautreau, a Royal LePage realtor who wasn’t involved in the final sale but showed potential buyers the property at the time, said he and his partner toured the house during an agents’ open house in early June.

“We had to put masks on our faces because of the mould,” he recalled to CTVNews.ca during a telephone interview on Tuesday. “There were no handrails. It was really, really scary.”

The real estate agent said he even had to sign a disclaimer before entering the crumbling mansion because it was so dangerous.

A YouTube video posted in May shows the inside of the main floor of the home with broken cabinetry, water damage on the ceilings, and scattered debris everywhere.

In spite of its unsightly appearance, the five-bedroom, seven-bathroom house was sold under a receivership shortly after it was put up for sale.

Gautreau said the speedy sale can be credited to the property’s impressive 135 feet by 548 feet lot, which boasts a “180-degree view” overlooking Lake Ontario, according to the listing.

“It’s basically land value,” he said.

The realtor predicts the new buyer will either tear down the structure and build an entirely new house in its place or strip it down so just the skeletal steel beams remain and renovate from there.

“It’s a massive undertaking,” he said. “It’s 13,000 square feet. If you just calculate the plumbing, and drywall, and hardwood floors and times that by the square footage… just the materials is massive and then you have the labour.”

By Gautreau’s estimation, however, the costly construction will be worth it in the long run. He said the new owner should be able to fetch $8 million to $10 million for the property after it’s been fixed up – depending on the market at the time, of course.

“At $3.45 million, it really is pretty good,” he said. “It’s land value. I think it’s a good deal.”

A ‘dream home’

Before the sprawling mansion on Birchmount Road fell into disrepair, Gautreau said it was actually a “dream home” for former owners Lauren and Christine Drotos.

The couple purchased the original century-old farmhouse on the property for $1.9 million in 2006 and set about renovating the structure from top to bottom. The couple redid the interior and even started putting in a basement basketball court complete with 20-foot high ceilings.

Even though local zoning laws prohibited anything larger than a two-car garage, Gautreau said the Drotos were able to side-step that rule by installing a garage with only two doors, but that could fit up to 16 vehicles.

“It’s such a unique property,” he said. “It’s really a crazy spot.”

When the cost of renovations became too much, the couple attempted to sell the partially constructed home for nearly $6 million in 2012, but it never sold.

Eventually, the Drotos gave up the property and it was seized by creditors.

Now, after nearly 10 years of sitting abandoned – save for the occasional rodent or trespasser – the incomplete home at 4 Birchmount Road finally has a new owner.

Gautreau said the sale has been tangled up in the courts since the offer was accepted in June because the receiver has had to sort out payments to all of the various lenders on the property over the years.

Although it’s not known what the new owner will do to the property, Gautreau said some of his clients who live in the area are pleased to know that something will happen to it.

“They’re thrilled,” he said. “They’re saying it’s been such an eyesore for such a long time and they’re really, really happy there’s a new owner. Hopefully this person has deep enough pockets to do a decent job with it.”

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