From the Charlotte Observer, via Piggington:

Where do you begin a tour of a $2.45 million house?

You begin outside, near the front of a wooded, 2-acre parcel, where a stone-bedded creek carries pumped water from the front fence down to an elegant koi pond. It’s one of the first things you see when the privacy gate rolls back and lets you roll in to 4823 Camilla Drive.

“It’s beautiful,” says Eric Markel.

Welcome to his baby – a six-bedroom, seven-bathroom, 6,977-square-foot home. It is one of Charlotte’s most beautiful houses – spectacular from copper roof to basement home theater – lovingly built in a desirable South Park neighborhood in 2003, when the city’s real estate market was in full sizzle.

But 4823 Camilla hasn’t sold. The $2.45 million house is now a $1.65 million house. The koi? “Long dead,” Markel says.

Multiple Listing Service data don’t provide information on which houses have spent the most time on the market, but at almost eight years, Markel’s house has hung on the vine longer than any home Realtors across Charlotte can recall.

Markel is more than willing to pass around blame – to Realtors who dwell on the years the house has spent not selling, to buyers who think the kitchen is a smidge too small for a 7,000-square-foot house, to a city that doesn’t quite get the architectural and design brilliance that was bestowed upon it.

He knew there was risk. He was building in a neighborhood of houses one-fifth the price of 4823 Camilla. He also was building a striking home inside and out, instead of mellowing the design to attract a larger pool of buyers.

People, he says, were blown away by the home.  Some just stopped their cars at the gate and gaped. But they didn’t buy. Markel tried changing agents, then again. The two complementary houses didn’t get built. Then finally – the words that find themselves into every sad story these days: The recession came.

“It was a limited market,” he says. “But I felt like we had all these people moving in from other places, even internationally.”

“You want to know why this house hasn’t sold?” he asks. “It’s cursed. Cursed.” But not a supernatural sort of burden. It’s cursed, he says, because it sits in a city of unappreciative real estate professionals and buyers. “People just don’t understand it,” he says.

That includes Realtors who figure that a house on the market this long must have something wrong with it, he says. That also includes builders who sucker buyers with big houses with a few bells and whistles, and buyers who let themselves be suckered by coveting quantity – as in price per square foot – instead of quality.

“People buy (bleep) for 2million, 21/2 million,” he says. “This house they can have for a million dollars less.”

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