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He Bought the Fencing Coach’s House. Then His Son Got Into Harvard

It was a modest house by this town’s standards, a center-entrance colonial, three bedrooms and a two-car garage on a quarter-acre lot. The inside hadn’t welcomed a renovator in many, many years, and the outside didn’t wear its age particularly well. Its owner: Peter Brand, Harvard University’s legendary fencing coach.

Its assessed value: $549,300.

So when the house sold to a wealthy Maryland businessman for close to a million dollars in May 2016, the town’s top assessor was so dumbfounded that he wrote the following in his notes: “Makes no sense.”