See Restoration Hardware exec’s San Anselmo house that sold off-market

  • f2086 920x920 See Restoration Hardware execs San Anselmo house that sold off market

    The San Anselmo home was taken down the studs and completely reimagined by a Restoration Hardware exec.

    The San Anselmo home was taken down the studs and completely reimagined by a Restoration Hardware exec.

    Photo: Danielle Hansmeyer

  •  See Restoration Hardware execs San Anselmo house that sold off market



The San Anselmo home was taken down the studs and completely reimagined by a Restoration Hardware exec.

The San Anselmo home was taken down the studs and completely reimagined by a Restoration Hardware exec.

Photo: Danielle Hansmeyer

Danielle Hansmeyer certainly didn’t plan on renovating her San Anselmo home for longer than she actually lived in it. Over the course of about four years the former Restoration Hardware Chief Merchandising Officer brought the original house down to the studs and put her heart and soul into the choice and placement of every fixture, stone and tile. She also transformed the overgrown 2.5 acre property into a manicured garden with a 75-foot infinity pool.

But about a year after moving in to the home, Hansmeyer decided to leave RH. She had spent 16 years at the upscale furniture and fixtures company and wanted to have more time with her family. Shortly after making that decision, she and her husband decided  the time might be right to leave the Bay Area behind. In early 2019, less than three years after moving into her beautifully reimagined modern farmhouse, the family decided to move to Sun Valley, Idaho, in pursuit of a more laid-back lifestyle.

“As much as I loved, loved, loved our house—I still look at pictures of it—it was an opportunity to just do something completely different and have a different experience for our kids,” she said. And the only way to fund that move was to sell her passion project.

Because of the length of the renovation and the fact that there’s nothing else like it in their Sleepy Hollow neighborhood, Hansmeyer and her husband were loathe to put the home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). People were already fascinated with the property and she didn’t want a bunch of neighbors nosing around her home.

“We wanted the right people to know about it but we didn’t even want our neighbors to know it was for sale,” she said. “We didn’t want to be ‘those people’ that everyone was talking about, especially because it was going to be at a price point that hadn’t really been seen in that area before.”

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At first, her realtors Laura Reinertsen and Kristin Sennett took the home on as a traditional “pocket” listing, talking to other agents in her network to see if they might have a buyer for the turnkey property.

“Every fixture and finish was custom made to her specifications and she is very particular about lines and design,” Reinertsen recalled. “Light fixtures lined up exactly with the line between the refrigerator and freezer. And everything was like that. It was perfection and we had to find somebody who would pay for perfection in an area where people wouldn’t ordinarily pay for that.”

The typical home in the neighborhood sells for about $700 a square foot. Hansmeyer was looking for more than double that amount. So her agents suggested Aalto, a new “private listing” service just for Marin County (it recently expanded to San Francisco as well) that splits the difference between the privacy of a traditional pocket listing and the mass exposure of the MLS.

It immediately made sense to Hansmeyer and her husband. ”We both come from a retail background and understand the way people buy,” she said. “We felt like the ability to visit a website just made sense to us. It’ll get in front of the right people.”

Only buyers working with an agent can see the homes on Aalto, and even then the exact locations are cloaked so that only qualified, interested parties can tour the home. Sellers can only use Aalto if they have signed a listing agreement with an agent, and they must agree to sell if a buyer is willing to meet their requested price.

These prices may be higher, but because multiple offers are much less common on Aalto, buyers have the certainty of knowing that the listing price is the real price. There’s no need to play the underpricing to get multiple offers game because the whole point of Aalto is that you only need one buyer. Owners who wouldn’t even have listed their homes otherwise use Aalto “just want to see if that buyer is out there that might be willing to pay a price that other people can’t understand,” Reinertsen said.

The service went live in early 2019 and was quickly adopted by top-tier agents. Reinertsen and her team sold over $30 million in homes on Aalto so far this year, more than half their overall total. She believes the move has happened quickly because the market was hungry for just this kind of middle ground. “Before that people would ask, ‘What do you have off market?’ But there really wasn’t a vehicle to sustain that marketplace. We could say, ‘We have this in our pocket.’ But there wasn’t the exposure to keep it top of mind,” she said. “Aalto just keeps the information out there and circulating.”

And that’s important when homeowners are asking for prices even higher than their already expensive counterparts. These homes often take longer to sell and their owners tend to value getting their price and maintaining their privacy over a quick sale, Reinertsen explained. ”Our clients are private people and I think a lot of them have been through the MLS system before. They know if they go that route every single neighbor is going to come through that home. Every single friend of the neighbor is going to come through that home. And that makes people uncomfortable,” she said. “And I think that they also believe, because our market is so hot, that if their home doesn’t sell on the MLS after 10 days on the market, they’re not going to get their number.”

The number Hansmeyer had in mind was $6.5 million. She and her realtor knew it was worth it, and they were willing to wait. “She was confident in her craftsmanship and we were confident in her ability so we knew the buyer would appear,” Reinertsen said. “It just needed to be out there.”

After several months, a buyer who Reinertsen called “perfectly matched” for the property appeared. It sold for $6,262,000 in April. Had the home been in Ross or Kentfield, she said, it could have sold for over $10 million.

Even though Hansmeyer is enjoying her new life with her family, she was “completely conflicted” about the sale of a home that meant so much to them, but that they ultimately didn’t get to enjoy for nearly as long as she had imagined. She said she now knows that what she created in Marin can be recreated elsewhere. ”It was hard, but once you get through the process of moving you realize over time that your home is really your family and all the things you’ve collected. It’s not just a structure,” she said. “Ultimately we know that we’re able to create something equally special wherever we go.”

They are currently renting while they develop a new home in Sun Valley. ”You just realize: As long as we’re all together, and we’re happy with what we’re doing, we’re fine,” she said. “We don’t have to have that house. We’ll have another house when it’s the right time.”

Emily Landes is a writer and editor who is obsessed with all things real estate.

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