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I have been on pins and needles waiting out this auction, bugging Robbie Briggs and Laura Brady at Concierge Actions all day yesterday. At about eight p.m. Friday night Robbie Briggs emailed me that “It was a fascinating process, and it appears to be successful.” Saturday morning I heard from Laura Brady who said — “we haven’t released details to anyone… the high bidder has formally requested confidentiality about their name and the high bid amount.” Which means the house did sell, we just don’t know for how much and who it sold to.

Great news! Briggs pulled off a near dang miracle!

Refresher: the 48,000-square-foot Hickory Creek mansion, known as Champ d’Or, which translates to “Fields of Gold,” was put up for auction by Concierge Auctions out of New York Friday, March 30 with a minimum reserve bid of $10.3 million. Champ d’Or cost about $46 million, took five years to build, and has been sitting on the market for umpteen years. Last market listing was $35 million and at least five local brokers have attempted to shed the house spending at least a half million to do so. The Denton County mansion was last appraised for tax purposes at $9.72 million, according to the Denton County Appraisal District. Champ d’Or was modeled after Vaux-le-Vicomte chateau in Paris.

Reading between the lines, I’m wondering if there was a confidentiality clause signed.

I have so many questions: how many bidders were there? Did they meet the reserve? A reader on CandysDirt pointed out they must have because, in order to bid, you agreed to start at the minimum amount. (Unless, as someone else said, they dropped the reserve at the last minute…) Did they go into private negotiations? Were the bidders actually there? In most auctions, experts tell me they show up 75% of the time, unlike luxury auto auctions. They like to see the process and what they are buying. Sometimes buyers do send their brokers or POA reps.

I asked a veteran local real estate auction expert (who asked to remain confidential) to speculate on a couple of scenarios and tell me what HE THOUGHT went down. Speculation here, folks. What if, I asked, they didn’t meet the reserve yesterday? Let’s say they stalled out at 7 million, he said, you know everyone is staring at each other, they just thank everyone for participating and end the auction. They may take the top bidders aside, say hey we didn’t make the reserve, what are you interested in putting into this property? In other words, private negotiations begin.

“Pending contract” could mean they are still trying to work out a contract, they didn’t make the reserve and are still negotiating. “Sale pending” may have indicated they made the reserve.

Now let’s say it sold at auction, met the reserve, bingo. Typically, there are no contingencies. If they negotiated privately, the buyer may have said I want to bring in my own inspectors, etc., which any realtor knows just opens up the door for guess what: more negotiations.

The sprawling estate was drawing widespread interest from buyers across the U.S. and internationally, Laura Brady, vice president of marketing for Concierge Auctions, told the Dallas Morning News’s James Ragland. I know that, because even people from Japan who had seen it on my blog were emailing me about it. A refundable $250,000 cashier’s check was required to register, the number of bidders was confidential. James asked Laura some great questions:

Potential buyers were expressing interest in pursuing “the property for residential purposes, which is how it’s used now,” as well as possibly using it for a business headquarters, she said. Brady said developers also had designs on the property, which is about 40 miles north of Dallas.

 

As This may be of interest to my Dallas readers. Much more, including a forthcoming statement from Dave Perry-Miller, on CandysDirt, where you will find all the local real estate news in North Texas on the ONLY real estate blog in town! I told you Saturday/Sunday, Ellen Terry has made the move from Ebby Halliday – her high end boutique firm was purchased by Ebby in 1995 — to Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International. This comes just a month after Ebby folded her firm into the Dave Perry-Miller brand — told you about that one first, too! Well, today was Ellen’s first day at Briggs Freeman, she said, since I broke the news of her departure over the weekend!

I got an exclusive interview with Ellen and Robbie Briggs just moments ago. First of all, she will office out of the Lovers Lane office, with Robbie. Not sure of all who will be coming along with her, Todd, her son, will come for sure. Hopefully, Caroline Summers. Ellen said she had several brokers pursuing her after the E/DPM merger, but she has admired Robbie for years and watched the incredible marketing being churned out of his office with the Sotheby’s merger. And she likes how Briggs is expanding like wildfire, too — new offices in Uptown, Southlake and soon, Fort Worth. Her new title at Briggs: Executive Vice President of Mentoring and Coaching.

“One of my passions in life has always been to mentor others to help them reach their potential,” says Ellen.

But never fear, Ellen will be selling. Her first sale was in 1976, a $400,000 home — believe it? — on Lakeside Drive to Jan Cox.

“I sold her a great investment,” says Ellen. The last time that home sold, Robbie Briggs says they handled it. It was $2.5 million.

Thirty days after she joined Coldwell Banker, her first broker, in 1976, the single mother had closed over a million in real estate sales, enabling her to pay off an IRS bill in full. In 2002 she sold, at that time, the most expensive home in Dallas, 4707 Park Lane, the $22 million Dick and Jinger Heath mansion designed by Cole Smith on Park Lane, now owned by Scott Ginsburg and listed with another high power broker at Briggs, Claire Dewar. Stay tuned: that listing is practically a blue light special!

Ellen sold townhomes for Al Hill, Jr., and most Highland Park notables.

“Since 1976, I have sold over a billion in residential real estate,” says Ellen. “Half of that was from 1996 to 2011, when I joined Ebby Halliday.”

Ellen has sold more than 173 multi million dollar homes in her career.

“Her strength is sales, listing and selling, and she will continue to do that,” says Robbie. “But I would even say that Ellen mentored me in a little way. I watched her from day one as she created two strong companies to become the leading luxury real estate brand in the market, focusing on giving the best service. That’s my goal, too.”

My goal was never to be the biggest, said Ellen, just the best of the boutiques.

“I couldn’t let him outdo me,” she said. “I had to join him!”

Oh and Robbie and his wife spent all day Sunday getting Ellen’s office ready for her, furniture and flowers.

“It’s beautiful,” she told me. “I came over here because they are having a Christmas luncheon, and I didn’t want to miss it.”

She added:  I wish my former company the very best.

But tall Robbie has already been forewarned by his petite, 151st agent.

“I told Robbie to get on his knees, or I need a stool,” said Ellen.

Ellen was not at her old firm’s regular Monday morning meeting on Luther Lane today — Dave Perry Miller and Bud Bush held the podium. DPM is keeping the Luther Lane office as well as Ellen’s Lakewood offices and will soon hoist new signs on both. I’ve spoken with a few agents who tell me they were not surprised at all by the move. Word on the street last week was that Ellen had whittled her choices down to two brokerages: Virginia Cook and Briggs.

“There was never a choice,” she told me today. “It was Briggs all along.”

I caught up with charged-up Briggs Freeman CEO Robbie Briggs for the low down on his new deal with Sothebys. After all, that was all any of us talked about last night at Duxiana. Did Robbie sell out? Is he retiring? What’s the story– inquiring real estate minds want to know all. Well, here’s the deal: last week Robbie and some BF agents were showing homes to 25 very wealthy Chinese citizens along with Mayor Leppert. They want to buy homes, In Dallas. Then there were the New Zealanders who came in to Big D on a private jet, looking at real estate. The point is Robbie Briggs gets it: real estate is going global, and he wants to position Briggs Freeman to be ready for it. So he just invested in more exposure for Briggs Freeman by relinquishing the firm’s Christies Great Estates affiliation and buying into Sotheby’s International Realty.

Did I say buy in? Yes, Robbie made an investment in his company’s future. From now on there will be a fee to Sotheby’s on every BF transaction so that BF can basically “have a guerilla for a partner,” says Robbie. What he means is that Sotheby’s takes those hefty fees BF pays on each transaction and puts them to work developing state of the art technology, computer systems and websites designed to keep BF competitive not just in Dallas, but everywhere, and to bring in those referrals from folks who recognize the quality of the name. BF will have access to a 9000 member company. And here’s how BF listings have already changed: Any home $1.5 million or over goes into an E Gallery shown in every single Sotheby’s office IN EVERY COUNTRY.And get this: all of BF’s graphics have been translated into 15 languages with sales prices posted in 15 languages. And as for language, does anyone speak Mandarin?

“I’ll soon be looking for agents who speak different languages,” says Briggs.

(To be continued)