Only in the 90210: This Small, Circa 1920 Tear-Down Sells for Over $5.5M

When you see phrases in a listing such as "first time on market in 45 years," "development opportunity," "charming fixer," and "potential for a complete renovation or start from the ground up," red flags blossom into a giant crimson banner.

For starters, you know the property is going to be A) dated, B) small, and C) perhaps ready for the wrecking ball. So how is it possible that a listing with these hurdles could sell for almost a half-million more than the original asking price in less than two weeks -- and at a record-setting $2,453 per square foot to boot? It's the 90210.

"It's all about the Beverly Hills Flats," says Nourmand & Associates listing agent Rochelle Atlas Maize, also known as "9021 Ro," thanks to her dedication to real estate in the world's most famous ZIP code. "There is a little supply and a lot of demand in this neighborhood right now."

In case you're wondering, the "Beverly Hills Flats," which doesn't sound extremely glamorous, is one of the best situated neighborhoods in Los Angeles. This little old home sits (for now) on a prime lot within walking distance of Rodeo Drive, the Beverly Hilton (where the Golden Globes are held), the new Waldorf Astoria, and the Los Angeles Country Club, just to name a few posh spots. Not that anyone who can afford visits to those places would actually walk there, but it's nice to know that if the Bentley had a flat, you wouldn't go hungry.

It might be the only place in the world where a four-bedroom, three-bathroom, 2,304-square-foot house built in 1924 and untouched for over 45 years could sell for more than $5.5 million. That's where Maize's area expertise came in. And in a delicious marketing twist, a food truck also helped to push the final offer above and beyond the original asking price of $5,195,000.

"I decided to create a sense of urgency, a sense of drama," Maize says. "So I didn't play games. I set a date 10 days after it appeared on the MLS and told everyone that I would be accepting offers on that day." She didn't even publish interior photos, but she did create a party atmosphere at the property on the specified bidding day, and that included hiring a toasted cheese sandwich truck to cater the event. "Who doesn't like a toasted cheese sandwich?" she asks. Not the hungry developers she was targeting.

Targeting developers can be tricky for a listing agent, especially if owners have an emotional attachment to their home and don't want to see it torn down. But this particular property belonged to a trust, and it held no sentimental value to the beneficiaries. The home would have been far less valuable as a potential dwelling than as a tear-down.

"Many of the newly built homes in this area are going for $9 [million] to $10 million," says Maize. "And this is such a well-positioned, [large] lot, that a luxury home built on it will easily sell for over $10 million."

"Of course nobody knows what's going to happen in the market," Maize adds. "But the great thing about 90210 is that the ZIP code is synonymous worldwide with luxury. Everyone equates it with wealth."

There are only 726 single-family dwellings in the Beverly Hills Flats, and owners are holding on to their homes right now, she says, noting that there were only three transactions in the area last month. As for this cheesy transaction? "Both the buyer and seller walked away from this deal very satisfied, and we're proud to have negotiated it."