Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 8
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors



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Iris Interiors


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Weather Forecast


Unusual House Auction Attracts Attention, 17 Hibben Goes to Transportation Commissioner

Dilshanie Perera

The house at 17 Hibben Road was auctioned last week in a process that ended with New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner James S. Simpson as the highest bidder.

Realtor Valerie J. Simone of Coldwell Banker characterized the auction itself as unusual, particularly since a house most often becomes available for auction after a bank foreclosure. In this instance, the individual seller decided to put the home up for bidding. It is the first such case in Ms. Simone’s recollection of Princeton real estate’s recent history.

“Usually there is a reserve, meaning that there is a certain [minimum] amount that a house has to sell for … but here there was no reserve. It made this case more unique,” Ms. Simone said.

The listing agent for the home was Henderson Sotheby’s International Realty, with the auction officiated by Concierge Auctions.

Ms. Simone, who represented Mr. Simpson, described him as completely calm during the process, with the actual bidding during the auction taking only half an hour.

Every day for six weeks prior to the auction an open house was held at the Hibben residence for realtors and members of the public to peruse the space, which includes six bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms, and three fireplaces on a 0.66-acre lot. The house was designed by architect Rolf Bauhan and built in 1927 in a Tudor style.

With her client having completed a pre-inspection of the property, Ms. Simone said that on auction day about six serious bidders contended for the home, with the final back-and-forth occurring between Mr. Simpson and another couple.

In order to be considered for the bidding, $100,000 had to be wired in advance to Concierge Auctions, with the winning bidder to pay another $100,000 that day. An additional 10 percent premium had to be given to the bid house, as well as transfer fee taxes.

The amount the home was sold for can’t be disclosed while the sale is still pending, but the contract is binding and the sale is scheduled to close within 30 days.

The Hibben house was purchased in 2004 for $2.6 million, and had been listed at $4.2 million before being reduced to $3.5 million. After the revaluation, the property taxes were listed at over $66,000, but following a recent appeal, were reduced to just over $55,000.

Ms. Simone said she had been working with Mr. Simpson and his family for the past six months to find a suitable property within walking distance of the downtown. In the interim, they were renting a home on Mercer Street.

Mr. Simpson, his wife, and two children moved from Pennsylvania to Princeton a year ago, following his appointment to Governor Chris Christie’s cabinet. They plan to reside at the Hibben Road residence.

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