In my town, the realty mavens were shocked by last year's $25 million print for the Phil & Marlo house, per NY Times:

"New In The Neighborhood Herbert M. Allison Jr., the chief executive of TIAA-CREF, may have taken a big pay cut when he left Wall Street, but he can still afford to live in rarefied company. In what may have been the most expensive home purchase ever in Westport, Conn., Mr. Allison, who was the president of Merrill Lynch until 1999, bought a waterfront estate from Phil Donahue and his wife, Marlo Thomas, for $25 million. The couple had put the 7.7-acre property on the market last year."

But in this week's paper I notice a new listing, of a property very similar, and not clearly better than (e.g., on a smaller lot) the Phil & Marlo house — for $38 million!

I thought at the time Allison was getting a good deal, despite the "all time high" aspect (I doubt any home had traded higher than the teens in Westport before). His lot is subdivisible into three (as is the new listing, as it happens) so he was paying $8 million per building lot — cheap'ish for prime waterfront.

Probably some kind of lesson in all this — "anchoring," as Twersky might say. Hard for buyers to imagine paying $25 million for a home when their perception was "anchored" by prior sales in town. By breaking free of that bias, and bravely "being the high," Allison is up $10 million or so on his purchase (assuming the current listing is tradeable anywhere close).


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