Sotheby's International Realty
When Linda Haugevik, an agent at Sotheby’s International Realty, put North Haven’s six-acre Strongheart estate on the market in July for $65 million, there were those who accused her of being on “hallucinogens,” she said.
In other words, even though the property belonged to the actor Richard Gere and his wife, Carey Lowell (who have since filed for divorce, according to the tabloids), it was perceived by some as overpriced. Nine months later, the price has been reduced to $56 million.
It’s not that Ms. Haugevik was trying to pull a fast one. “It’s tough to price high-end properties,” where comparable sales are few and far between, she said. The six-acre bayfront property with a historic manor house built in 1890 flanked by two guest houses, each on its own lot, is not as easy to peg as oceanfront.
“I spent an enormous amount of time pricing what it would be in a good market, bad market, south of the highway,” she said. Comparing it to Tyndall Point, a nearby 55-acre property that sold for $36 million in 2011, she concluded that the larger parcel was “all woods and no house,” whereas Mr. Gere’s property was “six acres manicured to the inch.”
The price had to reflect not only the property’s beauty and enviable location on Actors Colony Road, but also the quality of the expansion and renovations of its structures, which she said were by Ed Bulgin of Bulgin and Associates in Southampton. The firm “starts at $1,000 a square foot,” according to Ms. Haugevik.
As part of her research she also showed the house to Sandy Gallin, a former Hollywood talent agent who, as a sideline, sold more than 40 properties in Los Angeles (including a house to Frank Sinatra) before settling in Amagansett. “When I asked him what he thought I should price it at, he came up with the exact same number as me: $65 million.”
Does the fact that the property is owned by a movie star factor into the price? Not at all, according to Ms. Haugevik. “I’ve never capitalized on his name,” she said. But it’s certainly no secret to whom the spread belongs.
Even now that the price has come down, Ms. Haugevik is sticking to her guns and not second-guessing her original price. “You have to price it a little higher,” she said. There’s the negotiating factor on one hand, on the other hand “you don’t want to sell yourself short,” she said.
Now that there’s a reasonable comp in the neighborhood — a similarly sized property sold on nearby Roberston Drive in February for just under $32 million – Ms. Haugevik decided the time was right to go lower. Also, her sales efforts were hindered by an unrelenting winter. “The 1 percenters were not flying out here in the snow; they were someplace warm,” she said.
She feels she has a good shot at selling it in the spring. “There’s a lot of magic there. How do you price magic?”