A One-of-a-Kind Property: Mark and Meghan’s REALTOR® Helped Sell Their Iconic Passive Home

Written by: Rachael Westgate, Realtor.ca | Published: July 2nd 2024

In the bustling Hintonburg neighbourhood in Ottawa, Ontario, one home is so much more than meets the eye. For sellers Mark and Meghan Rosen, showcasing the unique features of their iconic passive house led to a competitive bidding scenario. 

How did they do it? A fantastic communication plan, ace marketing, and the expert guidance of a REALTOR®, of course! (Plus a media spotlight on CTV News added a unique element to their home selling journey).

A one-of-a-kind home

Building a passive home from the ground up was an ambitious undertaking for Mark and Meg, but one they approached with passion and enthusiasm. 

“The design-build process was a very challenging time,” Mark shares. “At the time, I was working in architecture and energy advising, and I had recently completed my passive house designer certification. I was very taken with the philosophy of passive housing and the idea that there were benchmarks that homes could aim for that prioritized the protection of the environment first and foremost.

“We toyed around with the idea of engaging a contractor to build a house for us,” he continued. “At the end of the day, I felt there were just too many things to solve in real-time as we went because we were learning as much about this as we were teaching, so going through the build as the contractor, designer, and homeowner was an opportunity for us to explore those problems.”

The idea of a passive home in Ottawa, a city with such temperature differences, was a rarity. The home’s furnace is the size of a toaster oven, there’s no air conditioning, and there are no fossil fuels used at all. The efficiency is something Mark was passionate about, hoping to use this experience to inform others. 

“At the end of the day, not only did we want a home that was going to be a great family home for us and one that would be as much about architecture and design as it was about energy efficiency, but it was also to walk the walk and testing it to see if it works. We hoped to learn about living in a house like that so we could share those learnings with others and be better equipped to advise people on how to build their homes in the future.”

Telling their authentic story

Selling was always at the back of Mark and Meg’s minds—both of them coming from out west and still feeling drawn back to that part of the country. 

“The move was a long time coming,” Meg shares. “Mark is from the mountains of Alberta, and all of my family was out west—we wanted to be closer, you know?”

A knock on the door and a brief but thoughtful conversation with Jenniffer Alvarenga, broker and REALTOR® with Re/Max Hallmark Realty Group in Ottawa, Ontario got the gears turning. A show-stopping brochure left behind was the perfect touch to incite action if and when the time came to sell. When the pandemic brought about the opportunity for remote work, Mark and Meg’s dream of a life out west became possible.

“What we didn’t want to have happen to that home was for it to fall into the same categorization every other home goes through,” Mark explains. “We wanted its story told: to pull the curtain back on all the hard work and thought that had gone into the house up front. We really resonated with the lifestyle storytelling approach in Jen’s brochure, so we thought maybe we ought to reach out to her. Her approach to truly wanting to understand what the house was, I think, is what convinced us at the end of the day to go with her.” 

Jenniffer shares her take on the storytelling philosophy in her business. 

“When we get a listing, our clients fill out a questionnaire,” she tells us. “The more they tell us about the home’s specifics and their stories, the more value we can create. For unique properties like this, or custom homes, it’s very important. From there, we analyze it, look at market trends, rebuild costs, etc. We take all these things into consideration as we establish pricing.”

And the thoughtful integration continues when prospective buyers come through the door.

“When people walk through our listings, we want to elevate their experience,” Jenniffer continues. “For this house, it was so unique. We tagged everything to help explain the passive home finishes. We wanted people to leave without questions. All these things are done to elevate the home. We want them to experience what it is like to live there.”

Meg says she appreciated the emotional layer Jen added to the selling process, understanding this wasn’t “just about selling a home, or flipping a property, or moving onto the next thing.”

“This was closing a chapter in our lives and moving on was very emotional and very powerful for us,” Meg says. “Right from the beginning, everything they did with us was thoughtful and with attention to how it impacted us. But at the same time, coming in with a clear strategy and communication plan laid out. They acknowledged and helped us, but they also kept us informed on their tactics.”

Conscientious communication

“When we ask questions off the bat, we always ask how you want us to communicate with you and how involved you want to be,” Jen shares. “Mark and Meg were part of everything. We always let them know the next steps and put together a schedule for them… It’s so important for us to always be transparent with our clients throughout the process.” 

Mark agrees, “I think that communication, always keeping us up to date on the strategy as it evolved and as they were reading the market, helped us understand what they were doing. We didn’t have a lot of nerves compared to what it could have been. When the offers did start to come in, we felt confident that we were getting the top value for our home.”

Wrapping it up in a bow

“I think they really threaded the needle,” Mark shares, when asked about the sales strategy of Jen and her team. “What we were able to sell that house for has enabled this transition for us to where we live now on the west coast with our family, and so much of our lives here is possible because we timed the sale well and they communicated what we were selling so eloquently to bring that value out.”

“[Without Jen and her team], selling our home would have 100% been more stressful,” he elaborates. “Working with a REALTOR® is a service that has financial, monetary value because you don’t know what you don’t know about the process. The complexities of making the biggest sale of our entire lives revealed a lot of stuff that we didn’t even know to ask about until Jen walked us through the whole process.”

“Yeah, and she wrapped it up in a tidy bow,” Meg adds. “We think fondly back on selling our home. Yes, it was stressful, but it was also wonderful. We just loved working with her. We got beautiful photographs, and we got this lifestyle video, which is kind of emotional for us to look back on. The process was rewarding as much as the results.”

After three years on the west coast, Mark and Meg share they’ve found home, and are thrilled for those who have also made a home in their previous space in Ottawa. 

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