Highly customized homes are a tough sell

Tricked-out homes and suburban castles tend to flounder on the market

New York /
Nov.November 02, 2014 03:00 PM

Occasionally, the very wealthy turn their mansion homes into eccentric pet projects. The results are often amusing and sometimes stunning, but for brokers they are a nightmare to sell.

Take the Andover, Mass. home of tech CEO John Nugent, who spared no expense customizing his mansion for his sports-loving children, according to the Wall Street Journal. Nugent added a full-size Indoor Basketball Court with a scoreboard, a 30-second shot clock and three rows of bleachers to the home – not to mention a bowling alley, an indoor pool with a water slide and family murals.

But when Nugent listed the home for $6.5 million – it cost $6 million to build – the property failed to attract a buyer.

“People see all the unique things that are being done, and it inspires them to want something unique,” Peter Archer of Pennsylvania-based Archer & Buchanan Architecture, who recently designed a “Hobbit house” on a client’s property to hold a collection of J.R.R. Tolkien memorabilia, told the Journal.

According to brokers, suburban “castles” can be one of the most difficult types of homes to sell.

For instance, Mel Bacon, the founder of Coronado Stone Products in Fontana, Calif., built himself a 6,000-square-foot castle-like structure, complete with turrets and drawbridge in the San Bernardino Mountains. But when he eventually put the home on the market for $3.5 million, the listing attracted more gawkers than serious buyers.

Bacon eventually had to reduce his asking price to just $1.8 million to move the home. [WSJ]Christopher Cameron


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