Champagne, hors d’oeuvres, strolling through a 12,000 square foot mansion on three acres… really, buying real estate should not be this fun. But it was so fun and so fast, so very very fast. The M Mansion at North Forty Place opened at 4:oo p.m. Thursday afternoon for cocktails and to let the bidders, all who had been pre-approved by ConciergeAuctions.com (read: good for the money) and who had put up a $100,000 cash bond, mingle and tour. I checked the list of attendees — most were Preston Hollow agents and a few other well-known faces, like Clay Stapp who had the winning bid buyer at another Concierge auction last year, Champs D’Or. I saw Champs’ buyers names on the auction list, Zaf and Zeshan Tabani. Rustin Smith was there, principal of Rustin James Realty, with a hot potential buyer; Kyle Rovinsky; Kyle Crews, Missy Woehr, Julie Harrison all from Allie Beth Allman; Tucker Blemar was on the list (think they meant Tucker Bomar), as was Susan “Matoozawitz”; Pogir, Jonathan Rosen, Gene Taylor and Lisa Besserer of Briggs Freeman Sothebys were definitely there; Faisal Halum was on the list; Mike Brody; Kim Gromatzky from Dave Perry-Miller and her daughter were there, too — more on them later. And of course listing agent/broker, Rogers Healy. Then there were the bidders. All told, about 53 were expected or had registered, been vetted and plunked down $100,000 to participate in the bidding. Of course, everyone who drove up to the mansion was screened by the valet parkers: if you were not on the list, you did not go through the gates unless, maybe, you were Donald Trump.
Upon arrival you signed in, and Concierge explained how they had land lines in the house, house phones for agents to use to call their clients with none of that cell phone fuzz. This was to guarantee a clear, open line of communication for agents. There was also a pre-auction charity auction of a Mario Andretti Driving Experience that went for $1900.
The auction got underway at about 6:15 p.m. with a little talking up of the home’s attributes –
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” said auctioneer Frank Trunzo of Tampa. “This jewel is on the market for $12 million.”
They hoped to break $6 million.
“This is an absolute auction,” said Trunzo. “We are not here to appraise it, we are here to sell it. ”
There was also no reserve, or minimum bid, which is highly unusual in a multi-million dollar house auction.
The actual opening bid was $2 million — that is, someone was willing to plunk down $2 million right out of the gate.
“Two and a two and a two,” said the auctioneer.
For a few minutes I thought perhaps that would be it — and I had this gnawing feeling — why am I sitting here and not bidding? Was I missing out on the bargain of the century?
But paddles were quickly raised and it was $2.5. Did I hear 3? Yes, $3 million. Three three three. $3.5 anyone? Then four.
We spent more time on four than any other number. Someone snagged it, then Trunzo inched the price up to $4.2. Remember, he said, this is a 12 million dollar property. Like, come on folks, what’s wrong with you? $4.250? Anyone? Anyone out there? $4.5.
A paddle was raised for $4.5. It was the most tense moment of the event –at $4.5. You could have heard a pin drop in a room of 40-plus. One of the Concierge peeps was on the land line phone with a client, as were many of the agents — Rustin, Clay — and she asked for time. Trunzo gave us a 5 minute break. We came back to our seats and picked up at $4.5….$4.6…$4.7…$4.6? Oh how Trunzo tried and tried to get that number up. If someone in the room had offered a dime over $4.5 million, I think they would have gotten it.
Going, going, gone! $4.5 million dollars.
I was sitting directly in front of the new owners of The M Mansion, who were a little stunned.
“I’m going to stay in Preston Hollow,” he joked, “she will live here.”
They have three daughters. Earlier I had teased them that they would save so much money on wedding venues if they bought the house — my son got married at the M Mansion last year, and it was magical. The home was a favored local venue for weddings and parties.
The new owners were quickly whisked off to sign away documents confirming the sale. They were to pay $4.5 million plus 10 percent to Concierge to cover marketing fees. So they really paid $4.95 million in all. The (beaming) agents, Kim Gromatsky and Rogers Healy, would get their commissions out of the sale price. In the end, the Sellers would net a little over $4.2 million.
My impression was that the Sellers were not nearly as happy as the buyers, had hoped to get a couple million more perhaps, but they were happy to have it all over and done with. That’s the beauty of auctions — none of this drawn-out process of showings and staging and house prep and drawn out negotiations: by 6:39 p.m. the house was sold.
$4.5 million in less than thirty minutes.
Concierge handed a big bottle of champagne to the new owners and waiters brought out trays with glasses of bubbly and more hors d’oeuvres. We wandered around the house for a last gander, drinks in hand, as the new buyers phoned their children with the exciting news: we are the new owners of the M Mansion!