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Realtors try teaming up on luxury listings

Realtors try teaming up on luxury listings

List price of five open houses Sunday in downtown Saratoga Springs averages $1.08M
Realtors try teaming up on luxury listings
Christine Marchesiello stands in front of 120 Fifth Ave., which is on the market for nearly $1.4 million.
Photographer: Erica Miller

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Five Realtors each trying to sell a luxury house in the city are banding together to find buyers for the five properties, which have combined asking prices of $5.4 million.

They’ll hold a coordinated open house Sunday. It’s not uncommon for a group of real estate agents to caravan through a bunch of houses for sale in a particular area, primarily to get a better sense of the market, but synchronized public showings are not a routine tactic.

“As the old saying goes, the higher the price the smaller the pool of buyers,” said Dona Frank-Federico of Select Sotheby’s International Realty, who’s organizing the event.

People seriously shopping for a house in that price range have the means to buy or build exactly what they want, she said. Because there’s less likelihood they’ll settle for a compromise, there's more benefit to getting them on site to see a house and feel its atmosphere.

“There’s not much that can take the place of standing in the middle of a beautiful home,” Frank-Federico said.

Christine Marchesiello of Keller Williams is listing the most expensive of the five, a four-bedroom house on Fifth Avenue with the Oklahoma Training Track literally in the back yard. Asking price is $1,395,000.

The house would list for much less if it were not on the rail of the track, she said. But for people who are involved with horse racing, it becomes more valuable due to its location.

Marchesiello said she is not a luxury broker, per se.

“We do luxury luxury and then I have a $50,000 vacant piece of land for sale,” she said.

With houses in all price ranges, the critical step is staging and appearance.

“I always tell [sellers], honestly, a lot of it is similar, it’s about the presentation.”

One thing that differs is how the potential buyer shops, Marchesiello said.

“That’s the hard part about a luxury listing,” she explained. “A luxury buyer isn’t necessarily on Zillow [surfing online listings]. It’s really a ‘who do you’ know marketing — old-school networking, who knows who, who knows the [horse] trainer. Mine probably more so than the other [listings].”

The owners of the Fifth Avenue house got three offers on it before it was even listed, she said, when it became known they were planning to sell it. But none of the offers was viable, she added. “It just became a mess for them.”

Marchesiello said a house is classified as “luxury” more for its price than its features, so the threshold varies greatly within the region.

Statistics from the Greater Capital Association of Realtors give some insight into the upper end of the housing market, but not specifically on luxury homes.

Only about 8 percent of the 11,000 previously owned houses sold through GCAR's multiple listing service in the first quarter of this year sold for more than $400,000. They took a bit longer to sell — 69 days on average vs. 57 days for the entire market — but commanded almost as much of their original asking price: 96.8% vs. 97.5% for houses in all price ranges.

Marchesiello said in downtown Saratoga Springs, $400,000 is merely an average sale price, while in nearby cities it might be the very top end of the market.

“It’s really impossible to make generalizations without going to the county level and the city level,” she added.

Marchesiello and Frank-Federico said they expect Sunday’s five-way open house will draw guests who aren’t seriously shopping for a million-dollar home.

That’s OK, Frank-Federico said — every open house gets tourists, whatever the price.

Casual walk-throughs can help with the Realtor’s networking, Marchesiello said. “Even if it's a nosy neighbor, you never know who they know.”

Details of the five open houses Sunday:

  • 118 High Rock Ave., $895,000, 12-3 p.m., Mary Lou Pinckney, Select Sotheby’s International Realty;
  • 193 Caroline St., $930,000, 12-3 p.m., Lori Leeman/Sarita Porter, Saratoga Realty Associates;
  • 42 Fifth Ave., $950,000, 11 a.m.-2 pm., Harold Reise/Chris Johnson, Julie & Co;
  • 228 Caroline St., $1,200,000, 12-3 p.m., Ellen Ritchie/Robyn Tellstone, Select Sotheby’s International Realty;
  • 120 Fifth Ave., $1,395,000, 12-3 p.m., Christine Marchesiello, Keller Williams.
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