Tales of a Seasoned Broker

No, I never sold a house for $30 Million dollars, at least not yet, but I once came close. It was early in 2005 and the real estate market was starting to heat up in a way that no one had ever seen before. The excitement was especially humming on Wall Street where real estate investment funds and mortgage backed securities were ruling the day.  I had an acquaintance living in Saddle River who ran a hedge fund and was very interested in hearing my perspective on the housing market, as just a regular agent in the field.  “What are you seeing, what are you experiencing,” he would regularly ask me as he attempted to gauge the mood among the actual people involved in the day to day business of selling and buying homes. If any of you have seen the movie “The Big Short” my friend was one of those lonely few people at the time who saw “it” coming and his conversations with me would always end with…”it’s only a matter of time before this whole thing blows up in our faces.”

With this introduction you can understand that when a home came on the market in Bergen County for $30,000,000.00, by far one of the highest asking prices ever for this area,  I simply had to call him. Perhaps his dire predictions for the impending crash of the real estate market were premature.  He laughed, thanked me for calling and then shockingly asked “when are we going to see it?” I was completely caught off guard as it had surely not been my intention to try and sell him the house. The average list price in Teaneck, my homebase, was then $392,000!  

I told him the listing could only be shown with proof of funds for an all cash offer, meaning producing a bank statement with 30 million dollars on it. I can’t remember if he emailed or faxed over the BofA statement with more than that number in the account but the next thing I knew I was making an appointment to show the most exciting new listing to hit our market in years, if not ever. 

Of special significance to me was meeting the listing agent at this home. She was my mentor and good friend, the perfect choice for representing such a distinguished house. We laughed and hugged when we met at the front door and then she abruptly turned and proclaimed “Let’s begin the tour – there is a lot to see!” 

I mean what wasn’t in this house? It was all there! Pools, indoor and outdoor, movie theaters, bowling alleys, endless rooms to host different theme parties, incredibly tasteful bedrooms for a young family and master closet the likes of which I had never seen. The most impressive part being the actual clothing, not the clothing itself, but how it was hung.  4” spaces between each shirt, each shirt tilted at a 45 degree angle. It was the staff. There was an army of help in this home including full time maids and butlers. A  private chef greeted us in the kitchen and told us about that night’s dinner and his up and coming show he was hoping to host on the food network.

By the end, my brain was tired. Living in a home like this wasn’t an upgrade in accommodations. It represented a complete change in lifestyle. I was not prepared for this showing as short of my knowledge of the royal family in England, nothing I had ever seen came close to corresponding  with this way of living.  The buyer (my hedge fund friend) and I started down the long winding driveway towards our cars and I didn’t say anything. We stood silently by his car and he smiled at me and said “what did I tell you? If this isn’t the clearest sign that the market is going to crash I don’t know what is. Tell them I will do them a favor. I will buy this house for $16,000,000.00 right now with all cash and save them the trouble of trying to sell it for the next decade.”

I tried catching my breath before presenting the offer but in retrospect it should have been obvious as to how it would play out. Had I presented it 6 months later, maybe even a year or two later, perhaps the seller would have countered with something reasonable and a deal could have been made. But this offer was presented in the first week of the home hitting the market and sometimes in life the timing just isn’t right. Fast forward 18 years and imagine my surprise when I saw that this same home (renovated) recently closed in the Spring of 2022 with a sale price of – 6 million dollars?!?!?