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[whitespace] Hillsborough's Tobin-Clark mansion is for sale. At 37,000 square feet, with six acres of landscaped land, it's a steal at $45 million.

Los Gatos--What will $45 million get you these days?

What do you mean there's no housing in the Bay Area? All you need is a preapproved application, a six-person staff and $45 million in disposable funds and, voilà, Hillsborough's Tobin-Clark mansion is yours.

"It's by far the most expensive residential real estate listing I've ever seen," Dennis Byron, broker associate for Fred Sands Estates, said.

The high-end real estate firm and, specifically Byron and San Francisco agent Joel Goodrich, recently won the listing rights for the 70-year-old historical estate. Byron, who lives in Los Gatos and works in Fred Sands Estate's Saratoga office, helped to craft the marketing strategy, which he said was the deciding factor in the homeowner's selection of a listing agent.

"There were other Realtors competing on the property, and the marketing ideas [for price] went from $40 million to $50 million," said Byron, who has been working in the real estate business in one form or another since 1974.

So what exactly does the home buyer get for $45 million? To start, the property features six acres of landscaped, hilltop grounds, complete with views of most of the Bay Area. There's an impressive pool, stone cabaña and cascading waterfall. Of course, the entire grounds are wired for sound, as well.

Approaching the house through the wrought-iron gate, the homeowner travels along the cobblestone drive, parking--or perhaps asking the chauffeur to park--next to the large stone fountain. The foyer of the 37,000-square-foot mansion features a black and white marble floor, with an almost M.C. Escher-like design to it.

The estate, designed by David Adler, includes nine bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, main and service kitchens, a bar room, a gigantic media room, a wine vault, an original elevator and a six-car garage. There's also a 55-foot-long music room with 15-foot ceilings.

Naturally, according to Byron, an unusual estate such as this requires a unique marketing approach. The homeowner--who is selling to try to "simplify" his life--believes the buyer will be found overseas. Subsequently, Fred Sands Estates has taken out advertisements in 50 newspapers across the globe, including papers in Saudi Arabia and The Times in London. The mansion is also being promoted on its own website.

Byron, however, believes the buyer will come from the Bay Area. He said there have already been several positive inquiries. Of course, not everyone interested will actually see the home. "We need to preapprove every buyer that goes in," Byron said. "Somebody with $45 million in the bank isn't going to be able to afford this house." He added that buyer's agents will also have to be preapproved before being allowed to tour the estate.

Once the time comes to close the deal, which Byron believes will be sooner than anyone anticipates, the transaction most likely won't involve the credit of any local banks. "The person who will buy this property will probably come up with all cash," Byron said.
Nathan R. Huff

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Web extra to the November 2-8, 2000 issue of Metro.

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