Super-Sized Real Estate
How one couple built their dream home, a $5-million south Mississauga mansion, and then realized it was just too big
Ed Hand, a 53-year-old client manager at a personal injury law firm in Ajax, and his wife, Reta Hand.
A 6,000-square-foot, six-bedroom, six-bathroom, multi-gabled mansion in Mississauga’s tony lakefront Lorne Park neighbourhood. Extras included a saltwater swimming pool with a waterfall, an outdoor bar (“Ed’s Place”) with a flat-screen TV, and a massive 3,500-square-foot finished basement featuring a wine cellar, movie theatre, exercise room and game room.
Hand had lived in condos and a relatively modest 3,400-square-foot house his entire adult life. In 2006, he began building his dream home. By 2008, when the Hands finally moved in, they had exceeded their budget by $1.5 million in a quest to go over the top: there was the $250,000 sound system, the $600,000 in landscaping and $700,000 in furniture. “I got a little carried away,” Ed says. The Hands, who shared the house with their three 20-something sons, soon realized their home was way too big. There were entire rooms, such as the upstairs lounge, that no one in the family ever used. In June 2009, they put the house on the market for $4.9 million.
Their agent, Lisa Searchfield of Sotheby’s, warned the Hands that properties in this price bracket can take two or three years to sell. She devised a $10,000 marketing plan but didn’t need to spend even a quarter of that. After an open house for agents, one agent quickly alerted his client, Harold Shipp—a wealthy Mississauga builder and a close friend of Hazel McCallion—about the property. Shipp, who is 84, was looking for a ready-made mansion and was immediately intrigued. He returned several times over the next few
weeks to see the place.
Three weeks after the open house, Shipp offered $4.5 million (furniture included), which wasn’t enough for the Hands—it had cost them almost that much to build it. Shipp and his agent faxed back an offer of $4.8 million, and the Hands accepted.