Rudy and Linda spent the last 20 years of their lives building their dream home—an authentic Victorian house on a 1745 acre cattle ranch in a beautiful, remote valley of Mendocino’s wine country. “Then the strangest thing happened,” said Linda. “We got older. We realized it was time to downsize and spend more time traveling and doing things we enjoyed besides running the ranch.”
When they decided to sell, they knew that the buyer for such a unique and expensive property would not be local. They wanted an agent with access to a diverse range of affluent buyers, so their attorney recommended Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty International Realty in the heart of Silicon Valley. After meeting with Chris Iverson and his team, they knew it was a perfect fit.
“We were very impressed with his professionalism and friendliness,” said Rudy. “He told us that he thought it was a very special place, but he needed to consider carefully how he could market it and come up with a plan. His honesty gave us a feeling of trust. And we felt like the Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty name would attract the kind of upscale buyers we were looking for.”
The couple knew that their property was one-of-a-kind and that it would probably take some time to sell. Chris advised them about the likely three seasons of selling: the first spring that the home was on the market, the next fall and then spring the next year, realizing those times were when the ranch was at its most beautiful and also when more buyers were looking.
Everyone agreed to begin with a private marketing campaign, with Chris getting the word out to his elite agent contacts and his exclusive network of high net worth individuals. He also hired a public relations firm to get article placements about the property in prestigious publications like the Wall Street Journal and Architectural Digest. When those efforts failed to create much interest, Chris then recommended putting the property on the MLS for wider exposure.
“Chris was working on it the whole time and thought of many unique places to advertise, like Horse & Rider Magazine,” said Linda. “Whenever someone was interested, he drove the six-hour round trip to personally show them the property.” Still, there was little serious interest in the property. It was time for more creative, perhaps less conventional measures.
Chris networked with other Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty agents from all over the country and learned about the luxury auction market. At first, the news was not good. He talked to several agents who had bad experiences. Then he met the representatives from Platinum Luxury Auctions. “This firm seemed to be really mature and have a great track record,” said Chris.
In the spring after the home had been on the market for a year, there had been only six serious inquires and no offers. They all agreed to try something different to move the property. There were two options: reduce the price or try an auction.
Rudy and Linda knew that there were several other similar properties in their vicinity that had been on the market for years and, even after significant price reductions, still had not sold. They trusted Chris to advise them, but had concerns.
Chris explained the concept of luxury property auctions and how they could attract qualified buyers from around the world in a dignified and efficient way. Chris recommended trying the auction route first and, if that didn’t work out, they could lower the price later.
Chris also knew that there were distinct advantages to selling this particular property at auction. “In an auction, there are no contingencies,” Chris said. “Imagine a 1700+ acre property with five ponds, four springs, a barn, 24 miles of roads and so much land. How do you manage all the possible contingencies?”
Yet, the auction was a leap of faith for the homeowners. “When a property goes up for auction, the auction company estimates the price it will bring. Then the auction house sets a low reserve price. The person can buy the property for the reserve price if there are no other bidders,” said Rudy. “This is guaranteed to make the seller gasp. You are going on faith that the auction company can get more than one bidder and that the sale will be for significantly more than the reserve price.” The reserve price was set at $3 million.
Platinum did the full-court press on marketing and the website for the property had over 39,000 hits. Once an auction date was set, buyers started coming out of the woodwork, just as Chris predicted. Chris said, “Once you set an absolute date that the property will be sold, people get serious.” Chris fielded two preemptory offers, but he thought he could do better. His advice to the potential buyers? “Come to the party and bring a lot of cash.”
But there is more than chance at work at a luxury auction. Platinum stations an agent on the property to guide tours and to collect intelligence on the potential bidders. Using this information, the auction house is able to predict who will show up to bid, and how serious they are.
Before the auction date, a conservation group offered $4 million for the property and Chris coaxed them up to $4.2 million, giving everyone some comfort.
During this stressful, unpredictable time, Chris handled everything excellently. “We really appreciated how he guided the overall process and served to work on behalf of the auction company and us,” said Linda. “Chris knew that we are private people and he respected and protected our privacy, while making sure that Platinum got what they needed to do their job.”
And Chris always kept Rudy and Linda’s interests as his priority. He let them know that they could cancel the auction at any time—up to within 30 minutes of the auction if they had second thoughts.
The Victorian-sized dining room was standing room only with five active bidders, their associates, Platinum Auction staff, and Chris. As a practice, they first auctioned off a bottle of Dom Perignon, with Chris winning. Clearly, the bidders were not there for champagne, but for serious business. Bidding began at $3.1 million and within 15 minutes, the property was sold for a total of $6,215,000—more than twice the amount of the reserve price!
“We are so pleased with the way everything turned out and the job that Chris did for us,” said Linda. “He is professional, pleasant, patient, extremely supportive, knowledgeable and is really good at this job. I can’t say enough nice things about the guy.
“He made selling a place that I never wanted to move away from possible and bearable. He really understood what a special place [our property] was and empathized with us about the loss of it. Chris has always been there when we needed him, always responding patiently when we had a question or problem. I’m so grateful that he was our Real Estate Agent.”
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Chris Iverson has worked in the real estate industry for over 18 years and has amassed a renowned class of clientele and unmatched experience.