A 13-acre estate on the shores of Lake Austin is on the market for the first time in more than 60 years, with a $35 million pricetag that makes it the city’s most expensive residential offering among properties under 50 acres, its listing agents say.
The offering of the Rockmoor estate, at 1804 Rockmoor Ave. in Tarrytown, comes at a time when Lake Austin’s available close-in waterfront properties are highly sought after — and rarely exceed two acres, brokers say — and as Austin moves up in the rankings as a desirable luxury market, according to a recent report from Coldwell Banker.
The property is appraised at about $24.7 million by the Travis Central Appraisal District.
Anna Mae Morrison left the estate to her three children when she died in November at age 99.
The gated estate has been held by the Morrison family since its purchase in 1953, on what used to be the edge of Austin. The estate features a lush lawn, a pool and lagoon, meandering paths, stone stairways, elegant gardens that blend with the native oak and magnolia trees, and panoramic views of Lake Austin.
The property includes a five-bedroom home that was featured in Architectural Digest magazine in the 1960s.
Eric Moreland, a broker associate with Moreland Properties, is representing the sellers, along with Moreland Properties’ Anna Morrison Lee. Lee is a granddaughter of the late E. G. Morrison and Anna Mae Morrison.
Moreland said the Rockmoor property “is as beautiful as it is scarce.”
“It holds an iconic status as one of the preeminent estates in all of Austin,” Moreland said. “Its central location and large acreage along Lake Austin is truly unparalleled. Nothing like this has been on the market in my career in the last 20 years essentially. It’s not going to happen again in our lifetimes.”
Since hitting the market this spring, the estate has drawn steady traffic, Moreland said. He said he has toured the property with prospective buyers from Houston, Dallas, California and Chicago. There’s also been an inquiry from Singapore, he said.
Anna Morrison Lee said the listing “is monumental, both in its significance to the market and to my family.”
“We grew up here, watching Austin transform around us, and have kept the integrity and condition of the property as a top priority throughout the years,” Lee said. “The Rockmoor Estate is a legacy, with incredible generational appeal. The buyer of this property will appreciate that, and will understand its history and how captivating it truly is.”
Lee recalls fishing and enjoying time with her grandparents at Rockmoor “for as long as I can remember.”
“My grandparents were very special and I was fortunate to have my children know my grandmother as well,” Lee said. “We all called her TaTa. She was a wonderful entertainer and very gracious hostess — our children also had birthday parties on the property and family Easter egg hunts.”
In a report this spring, Coldwell Banker said Austin is growing as a desirable luxury market. With 694 sales in the $1 million-$4.9 million range, in 2015, Austin ranked No. 17 among U.S. cities with the most luxury transactions — the first time the city broke into Coldwell Banker’s top 20 cities for that price point.
“The luxury home market is strong and will be that way for some time as Austin continues to top lists as the best city in the United States for living,” said Pat Vincent with Coldwell Banker in Austin. “We see buyers moving into the area from all across the USA and around the world as our luxury market is so much more attainable than in other parts of the country like California and New York. Quality of life, affordability, economic growth and some of the best school districts in the country make Austin’s luxury market the place to be.”
Mark Sprague, a housing market and financial industries analyst with Independence Title in Austin, said Rockmoor is “a beautiful estate for the right buyer.”
“The pricing is such that most developers would hesitate to split it up,” Sprague said, noting that a lower price would be more enticing for developers interested in subdividing it. “And besides with the incredible amount of heritage oaks on site (and other attributes) it should remain that, a beautiful estate.”
A unique property like Rockmoor appeals to a very small, select segment of the market, and “it isn’t going to sell overnight,” Sprague said. With consumer confidence having slipped in Texas and nationally, the luxury market has softened some, he said, pointing out that trophy properties are taking almost three times as long to sell in Austin than in the current market overall.
However, Sprague said Austin’s luxury market is still robust compared to the rest of the nation, and homes priced above $1 million will sell if priced correctly.
Lee said the property is a tranquil oasis whose next owner likely will be someone who appreciates the natural beauty that abounds on its grounds and will preserve that.
“I hope one person keeps it,” she said, “just because I know what kind of life someone could have there. It’s a piece of heaven right here in Central Austin.”