Got $20 million? It's yours

The price tag on Blackstone Ranch near Taos was recently reduced by $36 million dollars. Courtesy photo

Psst. Wanna buy a ranch? It's only $19 million, a 65 percent haircut from the $55 million listing price of only a few months ago.

All you have to do is buy, yes, buy the due diligence documents on prusa.com, take a tour sometime this month, and make a bid sometime before Dec. 6 on the Blackstone Ranch, an 190-acre parcel on Taos' southwest side with a 27,000-square-foot house, a 10,000-square-foot guest house, a greenhouse and several barns. The earnest money required to make a bid: a mere half-million.

That's according to Misha Haghani, the Manhattan-based real estate broker who is auctioning the Blackstone Ranch.

That doesn't mean he stands on a makeshift stage in the front yard and yodels. He was hired by owner Pat Black of Erie, Pennsylvania, a wealthy investor in biofuels, to help him price the property, make up the marketing materials, including the website, and then give some tours of the property and analyze the bids that come in.

As for the potential buyers for the Blackstone, Haghani says, they fit into "two buckets": one bucket is the high-net worth person, who probably already owns two houses, maybe a celebrity, who just "wants to get away." The other bucket is inhabited by people with an idea for a commercial use for the property: a meditation center or executive retreat. Needless to say, neither group is short on cash.

That begs the question: how do you price a luxury property like this? It's not like you can "pull comps" as Realtors say. That is, find out what the comparable houses in the neighborhood sold for with three bedrooms and two baths.

Haghani says it isn't easy. He had to look for comparable properties in several states to compare this one to before he could suggest an opening minimum bid price to his client. Plus, he added, the auction itself sets the price. "That's sort of the purpose of an auction," he said. "You let the market tell you what it's worth."

Moreover, he said, in this price range, people don't usually squabble over a price difference of a few million or other details or features of the house. "It's not like they'll say, 'This house has 28 bedrooms, and I wanted 26. Or, I don't like the school district.' "

Oh, and by the way, you may have seen Haghani on CNN or Fox News last year. He's the guy who last November auctioned off Donald Trump's childhood home in Queens for $1.4 million to someone who turned around and sold it for $2.4 million all sight unseen. What happened in the interim? You guessed it. Trump was elected president. "I must have done 100 interviews, Haghani said.

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