Lifestyle » Homes

A solid investment

Flipping a house is a risky way to make money. Instead consider the example of Blye Frank and Jim Oulton, who lived in their character home for 19 years before selling—for nearly four times what they paid. How’s that for buy, hold and prosper?


The place on Maynard is 146 years old, a beautiful three-storey, three bedroom home featuring five---count ’em---fireplaces. The upper floor’s master enjoys a harbour view, and the property includes a landscaped city garden and a separate in-law/nanny suite rented at $640 per month.

On July 1, 1992, it was just another north end home, purchased for $123,500 by Blye Frank and his partner, Jim Oulton. “It had been renovated a bit,” says Frank. “The original wide-plank floorboards had been done. We lived in it for about one year before we did much.”

Nineteen years later, Frank accepted a deanship at a university in British Columbia and the house was put up for sale in February 2011. The asking price: $489,000.

Frank and Oulton wanted to live in the home for awhile, figuring out what the place needed, which included making sure the exposed brick was highlighted and bringing the fireplaces into working order---the chimneys are all original.

“We had a head carpenter who’d worked on a number of the houses on the street,” says Frank. “He spent a year with us overseeing the project. We wanted to maintain the original character of the house but to modernize the systems and to upgrade the kitchen and so on.”

One interesting feature is that on both the upper floors, the staircase comes to a landing halfway up then splits to allow access to two different rooms on either side of the house.

“Either way, once you go up you’re then on a level, so you don’t have to go down and up,” says Frank. “The house has a spine. It’s one of things we really liked about it. The house is funky in a kind of way. It’s peculiar. Some people maybe wouldn’t like that many stairs.”

The renovations, which were completed over the course of years, included adding solid wooden doors and privacy walls on the deck to match the wainscoting in the kitchen.

Represented by Rick Foster of Prudential Property Specialists, the home sold for $475,000 within weeks. It’s manifest evidence that even if you don’t plan on it---and aren’t in any hurry---investing in Halifax pays off.

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