The property was previously shopped as the Romanov Estate in 2021 and marketed at $60 million in 2022 by Icon Global, but it wasn’t officially listed. Only two potential buyers were given viewings. Now, the home is being represented by Beverly Hills, California-based brokerage Carolwood Estates.
It’s hitting the open market during a slower time for Houston real estate. The Houston housing market was hot in 2021 and 2022, with values growing by double digits, according to the Texas A&M University Real Estate Research Center. But the market is beginning to slow, with prices stagnating, transaction volume falling and homes staying on the market longer, according to Redfin data.
Owner Colleen Romanov thinks the current price is more than justified.
“It was underpriced to begin with,” says Romanov, speaking to Bloomberg from the Houston home. “I think it deserves $85 million—but realistically, I don’t think it will get that for the location in 2023.”
The house took six years to build, with Romanov sourcing solid bronze chandeliers and a spiral staircase from Paris and getting Indiana limestone for the building’s exterior. The construction is stone and steel instead of wood. She didn’t want the house to look like a typical Texas dwelling but wished to recall the English manor houses she’d see on vacations, she says.
There are six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, an elevator, a custom five-car garage, and a chef’s kitchen with a walk-in cooler. The main bedroom has views of Buffalo Bayou and Houston’s downtown skyline. A manicured garden with fountains and a pool are for cooling off in Texas’s increasingly hot summers. The guest house has a pool, too.
“I wanted to build something that looked like it could be 300 years old on the outside,” says Romanov, joking that nothing is that old in Texas; the Alamo was built in 1718.
“Before Houston was a proper city, this area was the hunting grounds, so it’s a famous piece of land,” she says. “The original hunting lodge was here, and kids used to drive up to it and use the woods as a party or make-out spot.”
The original hunting lodge is gone. Romanov has 24-hour gated security, so the days of high schoolers driving up to escape from the city are long past.
“People have told me this is the best house in the south,” Romanov says.
The estate’s guest lodge hosted Shirley MacLaine during the filming of the Oscar-winning 1983 movie, Terms of Endearment. The main house is of newer construction. It was completed in 2005, after Romanov and tech entrepreneur Michael Holthouse split up.
Romanov says construction took longer than anticipated, having come to a halt after Sept. 11. The quarry she was getting materials from was used to rebuild the Pentagon after it was attacked, and that construction had to take priority, she says.
“I raised my kids here, and I frankly don’t need this big of a property anymore, but I’m not selling it for that reason,” Romanov says. “I’m selling it because of my love of architecture. I want to build another project.”
She’s looking for a big parcel of land somewhere outside major city limits, where she can build a ranch. “I’m 65, and I feel like it’s now or never in terms of me starting construction.”
Who does she envision buying the house? Romanov thinks it’d be ideal for a family, perhaps one moving to Houston with an entrepreneur.
“Houston is a fabulous environment for starting a company. There are a lot of millionaires and billionaires that have started their companies here,” says Romanov, pointing to recent migration to Texas from such states as New York and California. “Tech people are moving to Texas like crazy."