Got $250K? Only Three More Days to Register for the Champ d’Or Auction Coming Up This Saturday — but Maintenance Could Eat You Alive!

Published March 29, 2012 by Candy Evans

This is Briggs Freeman agent Joan Eleazer and her beautiful real estate selling family in the main parlor up in Hickory Creek. Layne Pitzer is Joan’s daughter pictured here with her precious children, and Joan’s husband (Layne’s dad) Jeff Eleazer. They were all up at Champ d’Or weekend before last for the special invitation pre-view party before Saturday’s big auction. I loved it when Layne introduced her perfectly-mannered angels to me, adding they are doing just what she did as a child: hanging with mom while she works selling real estate. That was, she said, how she learned the business: toting along with her mother to open houses and showings. But I’ll bet Layne never played tag in a 48,000 square foot mansion while mom worked! Only thing I want to hug more than some listings is these precious babies. Joan et al are, of course, the current agents on the Champ listing and the one who has had the listing the most.

Awaiting word on who has signed up to bid on Champ. As you know, it takes a $250,000 refundable deposit to even get into the auction. No looky-loos but only those with the means to follow up with a check for at least $10.3 million need apply or wire transfer $250,000 over to Concierge.

In case you are undecided, wondering perhaps if you could afford the maintenance on Champ, here are some of the expenses for upkeep. The Goldfields had three to four full time home tenders or caretakers on retainer — people to not only clean but maintain, check for leaks, replace fuses, initiate repairs or obtain bids on, meet workmen, basically do everything we all do in a normal 2500 to 5000 square foot house but 9.6 times that amount of work. One source who deals in the auctioning of luxury estates like Champ told me maintenance costs on places like this can run as high a $400,000 a year, more if you have to cover health care and benefits for the caretakers. Taxes are actually surprisingly low for this place: $189,000 for Champ plus 5 acres. If you buy the other 39 acres, you will have to pay taxes on the acreage but something tells me a few grazing cattle might net you an ag exemption. Still, that’s pretty cheap considering I am paying almost $40,000 on a home that is about 1/10 the size. Maybe lower taxes are one reason why Alan Goldfield went north to build his dream castle. This estimate of course does not count utilities, and I will venture the electic bill in August is — $11,000 to $15,000 a month, sound right?

Then there’s the racquetball court and bowling alley. A wooden bowling lane is made of hard maple on the approach and for the first 20 feet, followed by 40 feet of pine, the pindeck is usually maple. On top of this wood is a solid resin coating that must be redone every few years: cut down the old resin coating and a little bit of the wood to make it flat, then recoat. So even if the lane’s a little torn up, you can make it usable again by recoating it. You can pay someone to do this, but they must be specialized. You also need to keep oil on the lanes whenever you bowl or risk tearing up the coating on the lanes or damage bowling balls. A machine that strips and oils the lanes runs about $25,000 and requires maintenance, plus the oil and stripping solution for the machine. I’m happy to tell you such a machine comes with the purchase of Champ!

Sprinkler systems are my pet peeve in my home, they are always breaking and I swear on a stack of bibles the height of Champ, no sprinklers in our next house. But swimming pools are not far behind in  terms of maintenance nightmares. For fun, I snapped a photo of the giant swimming pools’ (plural, there are two) equipment shed, which is as large as a four car garage. I also discover something new with each visit to Hickory Creek: there is a remote control gas log fireplace in one of the powder rooms, below. Gilded, of course.

— Daily Local Real Estate Dish By Dallas Real Estate Insider — Candy Evans at