$17.5 million baby
ARIZONA DAILY STAR, Business, Tucson, Arizona, 03.09.2005
By Joseph Barrios
Spectacular Tucson home is drawing plenty of interest – from cyberspace
eBay hit parade leader
The Cobblestone Development might be paved with gold around the Campbell Cliffs estate, owned by former apartment developer Cary Marmis, who is asking $17.5 million for the 24-room, 31,000-square-foot Catalina Foothills home.
James S. Wood / Arizona Daily Star 2004
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31,000 square feet $43.6k property tax
$13.5M opening bid
Tucson’s biggest and most expensive home has also been one of the most watched items on eBay, where a real estate agent is trying to find a buyer for the $17.5 million estate.
Lots of people are buying homes these days, but the market for a home like Campbell Cliffs, which took nearly 10 years to build, is tight. As homes go, there is nothing close in size that compares. The house has 24 rooms and 31,000 square feet, 25,000 of them air-conditioned. It has a home theater, a gymnasium, an office wing, two elevators and an indoor gun and archery range.
Nothing compares in price, either. The price tag includes 20 acres of prime land in the Catalina Foothills near East Skyline Drive and North Orange Grove Road. The owner, former apartment developer Cary Marmis, is willing to split off 10 acres of untouched land and sell the home for just $13.5 million. That’s still millions more than the highest-priced home that sold in Pima County last year. That one went for $7 million.
The people in town who could afford to buy such luxury are few, said Anjelina Belakovskaia, a Realtor who placed an ad for the home on eBay. To be able to afford the taxes, electric bill and other operating costs associated with the house, she said a buyer would probably have to have a net worth of somewhere starting at $50 million. The 2004 tax bill alone for the estate was $43,626.38, according to the Pima County treasurer’s Web site.
The home has been on the market since 2001. It’s been featured and praised by publications such as Unique Homes magazine and recognized for its design. Marmis collaborated with architect Les Wallach and interior designer Elizabeth Rosensteel of Scottsdale. But still, no buyers.
Belakovskaia, who has had her real estate license for less than a year, heard about the property and thought she might be able to help in its sale. She said the home’s official listing agent, Martha Briggs, has done a good job of marketing the property to a national market but felt like she could help do more.
Belakovskaia, from Ukraine, is a three-time women’s U.S. chess champion. She earned a master’s degree in finance from New York University and worked for a company in Tulsa, Okla., where she traded weather derivatives, among other things. Having worked in finance and hailing from another country, she figured she could tap into well-to-do associates and into the international market.
But inspiration for the eBay post came from her and her husband. Just for kicks, the couple enjoy seeing what people are selling on eBay. She decided to put up information about the home, dubbing it a “22nd Century” Tucson estate, and linked to the home’s own Web site, www.campbellcliffs.com.
Over the last few weeks, the home has been on and off eBay Pulse, a list of the Web site’s most watched items, perhaps a dubious distinction for such a lavish property.
Last week, for example, other items on the list included a “mystery envelope” in which people bid on an envelope with unrevealed contents, and a drive-through strip club in Pennsylvania.
This week, watched items include a pretzel that purportedly depicts the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus.
Although the house may be unique, Belakovskaia’s idea of advertising on eBay was not. On Tuesday, the most watched items included a 7,800-square-foot “church house” in Kansas and a 3,000-square-foot home in Ohio. Other high-dollar estates have graced the list before.
Response has varied. One man asked if the home’s owner would simply give him the home.
“I get a lot of e-mails. I get e-mails from people who just admire the house. I get a lot of people who try to solicit business – you know, ‘If the owner’s in distress, we’d like to buy it for whole cash, 30 cents to 70 cents on the dollar,'” Belakovskaia said. “But I actually get quite a few serious requests.”
One potential buyer, a president of a “big corporation” flew in to town and considered buying the home either for himself or as a corporate retreat. It turned out to be “too big,” she said.
“You’re going to get a lot of different extremes. People who advertise on eBay . . . you should be ready for it,” Belakovskaia advised.
In 2004, there were 19 new and 74 existing homes that sold for $1 million or more in Pima County, said John Strobeck, a housing analyst. The most expensive home sold last year cost about $7 million, he said.
And despite Campbell Cliffs’ asking price, it’s still far from the highest one might pay for a place to hang a hat.
Ultimate Homes magazine has compiled a list of the 850 most expensive residential properties for sale in the country. The No. 10 homes – a tie between a French-style chateau near Denton, Texas and an estate in Montauk, N.Y. – cost $45 million.