A light-filled house with panoramic lake views owned by descendants of the founders of Pillsbury recently sold for $5.1 million — a lot of dough — without ever officially hitting the market.

The 6,370-square-foot, two-story house in Orono has six bedrooms and six bathrooms. It's on a sweeping 3-acre lot on Bracketts Point Road with 300 feet of Lake Minnetonka shoreline.

The two-story house was built in 1950 and was later the home of George and Sally Pillsbury. George Pillsbury, a former state senator and grandson of the founder of Pillsbury Co., died in 2012.

Listing agent Ellen DeHaven of Coldwell Banker Burnet started quietly marketing the house last year and had planned to publicly list it on Feb. 1. But a couple from California made an offer on it in December.

"They are going to enhance and preserve the home, which is not what most people were thinking about doing," DeHaven said.

DeHaven said the original asking price for the house was $5.495 million. The sale price averaged $801 per square foot. By contrast, the average house sold in the Twin Cities in January was priced at $134 per square foot, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.

Teardowns have become a popular phenomenon on choice lots around Lake Minnetonka. In the past couple of years, several particularly notable houses were torn down and replaced with larger ones. On Browns Bay, for example, two $4 million-plus houses were demolished. Off nearby Ferndale Road in Wayzata, three houses that sold for $2 million to $5 million were deemed obsolete and replaced.

Those California buyers will be in good company. The house next door is one of the largest and most expensive in the Midwest. Southways, a 13-acre estate that was the summer home of John S. Pillsbury, went on the market for $54 million several years ago. It is still available, but for a price of about $25 million. That house remained in the Pillsbury family until 1992.

Sales of upper-bracket houses in the Twin Cities have been strong, but prices haven't necessarily bounced back to pre-recession levels. As of January, there were 533 houses priced at more than $1 million for sale through the regional listing service, enough to last a year at the current sales pace.

At the same time, there were 531 pending sales of houses priced at $1 million or more, nearly 14 percent more than the same time last year. Sellers of those properties received 92 percent of their original list price. The market is tighter at lower price levels, with sellers of homes under $400,000 sometimes getting multiple offers and more than asking price.

Jim Buchta • 612-673-7376