Special Report: Million dollar open house

By Zaneta Lowe  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - You've seen them on TV and in magazines and some are right here in the Valley. The type of homes many of us wish we could afford! So what's so special about houses that cross the million dollar mark?

With such a steep price tag, a million dollar home may be out of reach for most. Our cameras get more than a glimpse, though, we're taking a tour of high end homes in the Valley.

What's so special about them and what does a million bucks buy?

"It's a little over six acres, of really, really probably one of the prettiest lots in Muscogee County."

Realtor Ed Griffenhagen is talking about a Stonewood Farms home. It's nestled along a lake that runs about 50 acres, features a salt water pool and outdoor fire pit.

"The house is a little more than 5100 square feet, there's five bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, there's one, two, three, four, additional kind of living areas," says Griffenhagen who works with KPDK.

Located in one of the most exclusive gated, Columbus communities, the house is listed for $1,349,000, and includes features Griffenhagen says you won't find anywhere else.

"Really unique ceiling treatments, there's really unique floors."

Vintage, re-claimed hardwood that buyers can't simply shop for in the store. Griffenhagen says this is the type of feature you'll find in a high end home in Muscogee County.

"We're a more traditional market, the glitzy and I don't know you'd say the marble and crystal and all of that high end fashion, that's not our high end market," says Griffenhagen.

So why so pricey?

"A lot of it starts with the or a lot of it begins with the value of the dirt the house is sitting on," Griffenhagen says.

You've heard it before, location, location, location.

"You'll see a bigger house, with a lot of square footage, typically, extremely well built, probably a bit lot," explains Griffenhagen.

Like another house we visited in Harris County. It sits on eight and a half acres along a lake.

"There's quite a bit of custom features, we've got antique hardwood pine that came out of an old mill in North Carolina, it's about a 120 years old, through the whole upper level," says the homeowner Steve Chinberg who is also in the real estate business.

The home has five bedrooms, four and a half baths, it's 5500 square feet, listed for $1,225,000.

"All the baths have stone tile or marble, all the showers throughout the house have multiple shower heads," says Chinberg.

This includes the master, where the shower's a walk-in. The lower level is all about entertaining.

"The bar area downstairs, with the sink with the built in dishwasher, upscale appliances, upscale lighting, there was nothing left out as far as expense," says Chinberg.

Especially the 100 inch projection TV, the focal point of the theatre. Chinberg says the best part of the home is the view.

There are multiple porches that overlook the lake and pool.

"Real private, real quiet, no matter what time of day it is," explains Chinberg.

Speaking of privacy, we visit another property in Auburn where that's certainly part of the charm.

"Very unique home, 15 acres inside the city limits of Auburn, over 5500 square feet, you've got slate flooring, you've got heated flooring in the master bath, large granite pieces as you can see, you've got imported marble with fossils from Africa," says Realtor John Hardin.

Custom built with expensive and exquisite touches like chandeliers in the foyer, a unique sink in a guest bath and kitchen cabinetry chosen by hand from cherry wood cut lumber.

The home is listed at $1,990,00. There's even a safe room downstairs.

"This is the cream of the crop in my opinion, for what you can pretty much get for around the $2 million mark," says Hardin of First Realty in Auburn.

Call it luxury living, we visit a home listed for $2,995,000 on Lake Martin. It's approximately 6,000 square feet, six bedrooms, seven and a half baths.

"This one, your main level is walk out to the water, which makes it real nice," says Bob Harris who is the builder and homeowner.

There's a an extremely large outdoor living space. A walk from the main house to the guest house even overlooks the area.

From the large kitchen with upscale appliances to the big bedrooms and bathrooms, the home is clearly designed for family gatherings.

"What we're trying to do is get a large lake house that will accommodate a lot of people, but at the same time, give the feel of a cabin," explains Harris.

Harris says that's why the house is full of wood and stone, to give buyers that comfy feel.

"You've got to leave a buyer with something they remember about the house that sets you apart or something they really like about the house."

Despite such amenities, all the realtors we spoke to say selling high end homes has gotten tougher over the past few years.

There's the trouble in the market itself, plus the fact that once you get into the million dollar price range, there are fewer buyers in the pool.

However, "There's going to be a market for anything out there, whether it's a home in the hundred thousand, or a home in the two million, there's one buyer for one house," says Hardin.

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