Listed originally at $28 million

By Emily Stifler Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor

BIG SKY – Offered last year for $28 million, 26 Obsidian Road is the highest priced residential property ever listed in Big Sky and in the Gallatin Association of Realtors multiple listing service.

The property, now set to sell at live auction without reserve on Feb. 18, was one of the first lots developed in the Yellowstone Club – something listing agent Shawna Winter says adds to the allure.

“The exclusivity of the club, the uniqueness of property, and the current owner’s initial opportunity to select a prime site… It truly is one of the best locations from a ski-in ski-out perspective and a view perspective at the club,” Winter said.

New York City-based Concierge Auctions, which is running the auction, is advertising the 15,552 square foot residence on 2.6 acres as “a ski lover’s paradise with sweeping mountain views and direct access to 8,000 skiable acres.”

Concierge sells high-end, luxury properties at absolute auction nationwide, and while auctions are sometimes equated with distressed property, that’s not the case here, according to Laura Brady of Concierge. “The vast majority of our sellers aren’t distressed. It’s just a decision to sell this way.”

By aggregating competition, an auction can “maximize value and produce the highest possible price by a given date,” Brady said. Otherwise, sellers are “at mercy of when buyers come forward.”

“You’re flipping the table around and putting buyers and sellers on an even playing field – and at a live auction at the property.”

The auction format helps generate excitement, Winter said, noting the Nov. 16 announcement attracted attention “instantly.” By Nov. 26, she and the other listing agent Lynn Milligan already had a few hundred inquiries.

“Those with the wherewithal to make a purchase like this, when something like this comes up from a location perspective, it’s an opportunity they’re not going to turn away from,” Milligan said. “The price point alone generates interest.”

Since it will sell at live auction, the price isn’t set and the property will instead sell to the highest bidder on auction day. “Being optimistic, we sure hope that it gets close to that number,” Winter said.

Concierge did three auctions in the Spanish Peaks earlier this year and one in the Yellowstone Club. Working with the now dissolved brokerage Rivers to Peaks, they sold all four units in five weeks.

“Certainly in both Spanish Peaks and the Yellowstone Club we’re selling the lifestyle as much as we’re selling the properties themselves,” Brady said. “Both of those communities are well-known nationwide and worldwide, so we have a lot of interest just from folks knowing they were [there].”

A simultaneous sale in Aspen, Colo. generated cross interest, Brady said. “A lot of people became familiar with Big Sky who weren’t necessarily looking [there] before that.”

Many Concierge clients are searching for certain amenities rather than a specific location, she explained. “We might have someone in Princeton, New Jersey, looking for a ranch or a ski chalet, not telling us they want to be in Big Sky or Telluride.”

The auction house also sold a luxury ranch south of Cameron this year, and a property in Whitefish in 2011. It’s had continuous business in Jackson, Wyo. since 2009.

As far as 26 Obsidian Road’s $28 million price tag, that’s comparable to the highest end listings in other resort towns. Aspen, Colo. currently has 15 single-family homes listed higher than $20 million on its MLS servicel; Vail has one at $25 million; and Jackson has five above $20 million, with one listed at $29.5 million and one at $37 million.

Compared to Jackson or Vail, Milligan said, “There’s so much growth potential here, buyers think they’re getting in on the ground floor.”

Winter says she’s starting to see signs of health in the real estate market. “There seems to be more higher-end home sales than in last year or two. A lot of buyers feel that the bottom has occurred and the market is slowly climbing back up, and they want to get ahead of that curve.”

More information is available at bigskyauction.com.