In the U.S., the term "tear down" refers to a house or building that is purchased for the sole purpose of destroying it (in order to acquire the land it is on). It usually refers to abandoned and decrepit structures. In this case the tear-down was a more substantial home - bought and demolished to improve the view for the new owners.
"There are houses being torn down all the time," says Bill Smith, realtor and ex-mayor of Belvedere. In neighboring Tiburon, he says, a buyer not long ago paid $20 million for the home of tennis star Andre Agassi and wife Steffi Graf, then announced his plan to raze it.
"People tear down homes for all kinds of reasons," says Smith, including the two ascribed by Marin's Independent Journal to the Winslows: They want to improve their view, and they want to plant some bushes.