Most Expensive House in Most Expensive Zip Code: Is It Worth It?

It may look like Newport, R.I., but it's actually New Jersey -- the Jersey that Manhattanites and Americans of all stripes love to mock. But Alpine, N.J., is far from the Jersey Shore of "Snooki" and "The Situation." Just six miles away from Manhattan, it is the most expensive zip code in the United States, according to Forbes.

A current listing in Alpine, a 30,000-square foot mansion with a price tag of $68 million, has also set a record. It is the highest-priced free-standing residential property currently listed in the United States.

The property has so far attracted the interest of four buyers from the world of business and finance, broker Dennis McCormack of Prominent Properties Sotheby's Realty told HousingWatch.

The prospects remain anonymous, but imagine the buyer as someone who covets a grand, Newport, R.I.-style spread, complete with requisite ballroom, library with vaulted ceiling, a 2,000-square-foot pool house (next to the 65-foot pool), a slate roof and tons of substructural steel, for added stability.

But is this house --or any house, for that matter -- worth $68 million?

Shockingly, the answer could be yes.

The antique crystal chandeliers alone -- included in the price -- are worth between $2.5 and $3 million. For the landscaping, 60-foot trees were hauled in, so the owner wouldn't have to wait around for puny 4-foot shrubs to grow.

And let's not overlook the 12 bedrooms,19 bathrooms, 11-car garage and several kitchens -- not to mention the French limestone walls and $5 million worth of hand-cut Tuxedo stone walls surrounding the property. The house comes with its own generator to produce electricity in case of a blackout; and a fire-compression system, so if lighting strikes, your chateau won't be reduced to ashes.

The decor is very Louis Whatever, with Venetian-plaster walls and a hotel-size grand foyer with sweeping stairway, pictured at left.

McCormack says similar homes in the gated community, the Estates at Alpine, are valued between $57 million and $200 million, so you will be in good company in the Garden State. For this property, the land is worth around $15 million, construction costs were $36 million, then throw in the extras, and, well, it does add up.

This wasn't a spec house, which is why the detailing is so special and the price so high. The manse was built by Richard Kurtz, whose business is owning and managing apartments. In 2006, according to the Wall Street Journal, he paid $58 million for the land on which the house sits -- a 60-acre estate, part of larger parcel once owned by Henry Clay Frick -- and then divided the land into multi-acre properties. The 70-year-old Kurtz and his wife will remain in Alpine in a small-ish 10,000-square-foot home.

For $68 million you can buy quite a palace in the sky in Manhattan, but if you're a Wall Streeter who wants to go suburban (with a touch of Gatsby), this nifty cottage might just do the trick.

Find homes for sale in Alpine, N.J. and elsewhere at AOL Real Estate.

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Latoya Rutledge

When it comes to selling real estate, one of the most difficult and frustrating situations for sellers is when market conditions make it nearly impossible to sell at the desired price point. A high initial listing price might be because the seller simply has an unrealistic idea of how their house stacks up against the competition in the area, or because the owner needs to sell for a set minimum price in order to pay off their loan against the property.

With traditional property sales methods, the only way to prevent the property from sitting on the market indefinitely is to keep dropping the price. Unfortunately, this technique doesn't always work - especially if the seller is unwilling to "discount" their house by much.

In areas flooded with homes for sale, reducing the asking price slightly will not bring the desired result. In fact, it's common that the property will continue to sit on the market without offers, alongside the multitude of other unsold properties with similarly reduced prices.

April 19 2011 at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply