Eco-Friendly Estate Asks $38M in Sands Point

January 10, 2015 05:00PMSonny Chabra's Sands Point estate

A grand but unusual estate in Sands Point, N.Y., an affluent village on the North Shore of Long Island, has hit the market asking $38 million. Nearly new, postmodern and eco-friendly, the mansion sits on almost four waterfront acres, according to the New York Times. Completed in June, the 15,000-square-foot estate features a circular drive, a sculpture garden, a golf green and a sandy beach on Long Island Sound. Its eco-friendly amenities include geothermal heating and cooling, photovoltaic panels, a sedum-covered organic roof, a maintenance-free porcelain and zinc facade and two cisterns that capture and reuse rainwater for irrigation. Its application for a silver-level LEED certification for sustainability is pending, but if it’s granted, the home would be one of the largest residences with the certification in the nation. Sonny Chabra, the chairman and chief executive of ASI System Integration, a provider of information technology services, is the seller. The eight-bedroom, nine-bathroom house is being sold furnished. “It’s a turnkey situation,” said Shawn Elliott of Shawn Elliott Luxury Homes and Estates, the listing broker. [NYT] – Christopher Cameron

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Eco-Friendly Estate Asks $38M in Sands Point

“Money Pit” Home Hits the Market Asking $12.5M

June 15, 2014 09:00AMThe Long Island home as featured in the film

The Long Island home as featured in the film “The Money Pit”

A Long Island mansion featured in the 1986 Tom Hanks comedy, “The Money Pit” – appropriately about a nightmare of a fixer-upper – has hit the market asking $12.5 million. Built in 1898, the eight-bedroom house, located in Lattingtown, N.Y., has been totally renovated, and decorated in Versace-esque style, according to the New York Times. “It’s now the anti-‘Money Pit,’” listing broker Shawn Elliott of Shawn Elliott Luxury Homes & Estates told the Times. “The home was restored at the highest quality.” When the film was shot, the home belonged to Eric Ridder, a publisher and a member of the American yachting team that won the gold medal at the 1952 Olympics. In 2002, the 5.4-acre estate sold to current homeowners, Rich and Christina Makowsky, who felt the home was a pit of a money pit. “We didn’t realize how bad it was,” said Makowsky, a shoe manufacturer and distributor. “The house was falling apart when you went from room to room. We definitely could have done the sequel.” [NYT] – Christopher Cameron

“Money Pit” Home Hits the Market Asking $12.5M

The Priciest Listings in the Burbs

December 01, 2013
By
Julie Strickland

053-054 Suburan listings se FINAL.indd

As the Manhattan luxury market continues climbing, pricey homes outside the five boroughs are seeing plenty of action of their own.

This month, The Real Deal brings you a roundup of the priciest listings in New York City’s toniest suburbs: Nassau, Bergen, Fairfield and Westchester counties. They may not break Manhattan records, but they have plenty of luxury cachet.

With new foreign buyers, Nassau’s luxury sales boom

Foreign investors are a growing presence in the luxury residential market in Nassau County. And the priciest listings those buyers have to choose from are all about the bling — including indoor basketball courts, home movie theaters, and the like.

Nassau’s five most expensive listings range in price from $15 million to $15.9 million, with several ties to boot.

Many of the buyers eyeing properties with price tags of $10 million or more are Chinese customers purchasing homes that can also serve as corporate retreats or entertainment venues for overseas guests, sources say.

“Foreign investors don’t know a great landscaper, who to call to put a pool in, who to call to furnish,” said Shawn Elliott, founder and CEO of Shawn Elliott Luxury Homes and Estates. “Because of the language barrier in most of these cases, they want it all there.”

Nassau County’s Gold Coast — which includes Sands Point as well as the Oyster Bay villages of Old Westbury, Muttontown, Centre Island, the Brookvilles and Mill Neck — is drawing most of the high-end buyers, said Elliott, who has the county’s priciest listing.

Long Island sales overall grew 4.1 percent in the third quarter, with median prices also up 6.6 percent since the start of the year, according to Douglas Elliman’s latest market report.

And like in the Manhattan market, inventory in Nassau County is tightening, feeding into the urgency to buy. Indeed, year-over-year, inventory shrank 13.5 percent to 15,652 homes countywide. Properties are also moving faster than they did a year ago, with listings spending an average of 102 days on the market in the third quarter, down from 116 days in the comparable quarter last year. Specifically, Elliott said that properties priced over $10 million are moving much faster than in the past.

Nassau County’s second priciest listing — a $15.8 million contemporary home finished in 1994 — belongs to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creator Mark Freedman.

Freedman purchased three adjacent, two-acre vacant lots in 1992 in a subdivision called Broad Hollow for $1.5 million. He then constructed a 15,000-square-foot home. The property is decked out with all the trimmings a youthful ’90s cartoon creator might want, from a movie theater to indoor basketball courts. (When reached late last month, the listing broker said the property was “in the process” of being taken off the market.)

Another quirky high-end offering is the so-called Twinight estate at 103 Centre Island Road in Centre Island. It is owned by the world’s foremost porcelain collector, Richard Cohen, and modeled after Versailles’ Le Petit Trianon. The home did not make the top five list, but does come with a hefty $14.98 million price tag. The home’s Napoleon room, decorated in the general’s favorite colors (purple and green) and accented with his crest, pays homage to the leader, who housed his mother at Le Petit Trianon after he came to power. Twinight spans more than 21,000 square feet and the porcelain collection housed there is itself worth $15 million, according to Elliott, the listing broker.

Best school districts draw Bergen’s high-end sales

Kennedy family patriarch Joseph Kennedy once owned this Englewood, N.J. home

While the luxury market in Bergen County is strong — with the most expensive listing clocking in at $29.9 million — brokers say there is no Manhattan-like madness there.

The market in New Jersey is municipality-sensitive, meaning that buyers are especially keen (and willing to pay top dollar) for areas with excellent school districts, such as Alpine, according to Dennis McCormack, a broker with Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, who currently has two of the county’s five most expensive listings. (The other three are also listed by his firm.)

“I think that in the mid-to-late 2000s, even in 2007 and 2008, it seemed to be widespread where the luxury scope of the market was fruitful in all the municipalities — but that’s not the case today,” said McCormack, who’s worked in the area for 18 years.

“Alpine is very strong because the school system is excellent, and prices are higher than they’ve been in past years,” he added. “I find that the towns with the higher taxes, and not-as-good schools, are the ones that have sat out the uptick in the market.”

053-054 Suburan listings se FINAL.indd

Cresskill and Englewood fall into that category, he said, though the latter is actually home to the county’s priciest listing — the $29.9 million Gloria Crest estate, once home to actress Gloria Swanson.

Kennedy family patriarch Joseph Kennedy, who owned the property and for years maintained a public affair with Swanson, sold it to the Wassil family, heirs to a trailer-park fortune, before Kennedy died in 1969.

Current owner Edward Turen, chairman and CEO of the property management and security firm Control Equity Group, paid Wassil $4.6 million for the estate in 2000, according to New Jersey’s Multiple Listings Service.

Since Turen took ownership, the property has undergone a gut renovation and complete system overhaul, according to McCormack, who has the listing.

Meanwhile, Alpine’s $49 million Stone Mansion (also known as the Frick Estate) was Bergen County’s priciest listing until it was taken off the market in June. The property — which was originally listed in 2010 for $68 million and has been on and off the market — was co-listed by McCormack and Oren Alexander, a Manhattan-based Douglas Elliman agent, in its last go-round. But owner Richard Kurtz toldTRD that he will re-list the property before the end of the year. (He said he is currently interviewing agents.)

Kurtz’s $58 million purchase of the Frick Estate in 2006 still ranks as the state’s priciest-ever sale, according to published reports. (Kurtz subdivided the land and built the Stone Mansion.)

Overall, Bergen County saw a 26.3 percent jump in sales activity in the third quarter year-over-year, with a total of 1,973 single-family homes changing hands, according to New Jersey-based residential brokerage NRT, parent company to firms including Coldwell Banker, Sotheby’s and the Corcoran Group. The median sales price rose as well, up 6.7 percent to $480,000.

Fairfield County’s astronomical prices top the suburban heap

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Fairfield County tops the New York area suburban luxury market by a long shot.

Overall sales are booming, while luxury market prices are stratospheric, sources say. Indeed, the Connecticut county’s priciest listing was at one point the most expensive listing in the country.

Copper Beech, a massive 50-acre estate, was listed for $190 million when it came on the market in May, but has since been chopped to $140 million.

However, it may not be a listing for long. At press time, rumors were swirling that an offer had been made on the property — which is owned by timber magnate John Rudey — and that it may even be in contract. That’s despite the fact the industry observers said they thought the property seemed wildly overpriced.

“It’s been well-documented that Copper Beech is leveraged to the gills,” said one source who asked to remain anonymous. “People are snarking that it’s the biggest short sale in the country, so it will be interesting to see what happens with it.”

According to public records, a lis pendens was filed by the bank in 2011, but was dropped in December 2012.

Listing broker David Ogilvy of David Ogilvy & Associates did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, the other listings rounding out the top five most expensive for-sale properties in the county range in price from $30 million to $62 million.

Of those, 207 Byram Shore Road in Greenwich, which is listed for $32 million, has the most interesting history.

The 1916 Greenwich mansion, owned by the Weinstein Company’s Bob Weinstein, measures nearly 13,000 square feet and is located on a street dotted with grand “summer cottages” that served as vacation homes for the wealthy industrialists of a century ago.

Should the home, listed by Coldwell Banker’s Tamar Lurie, fetch its full asking price, Weinstein would land a hefty profit. He paid $16 million in 2000.

In Greenwich overall, sales have increased steadily since 2009, according to David Haffenreffer, manager of Houlihan Lawrence’s new Greenwich office.

The two hottest neighborhoods are Old Greenwich and Riverside, where young New York City families often come for what Haffenreffer calls a “smaller lot experience.” Many of those areas are zoned for quarter-and-half-acre lots, which Haffenreffer said encourages communities where “more people are meeting at the mailbox than those in a four-acre zone.” Many of these neighborhoods are also within walking distance to the Metro North train.

While the number of high-end home sales rose 13.2 percent throughout Connecticut, it leapt by even more — 20.1 percent — in Fairfield County in the third quarter from the same time last year. Within the county, Greenwich led the way with 492 property sales in the third quarter. It also registered a median price of $1.6 million.

Westchester draws priced-out New Yorkers

The real estate market in Westchester County is a “tale of two cities,” according to Houlihan Lawrence’s Anthony Cutugno.

The market in lower Westchester, in New York City-adjacent towns like Bronxville, Rye, Scarsdale and Mamaroneck, is much busier than it is in upper Westchester. The former areas, he said, account for 70 percent of Houlihan Lawrence’s luxury business.

“Our theory is that because the [Manhattan] condominium market has pushed itself to such a height, more people are selling at top dollar in New York City right now who are not able to buy back into the market and get the size of apartment that they actually need,” said Cutugno, director of the firm’s Bedford-based Luxury Country Properties division.

“Once they sell, it’s not so easy to buy back in, and they’re coming [here] because Bronxville’s only 20 minutes to New York,” he added. The majority of properties these exiles pick up, he said, are in the $2- to $4-million range.

But those, of course, aren’t the priciest properties in Westchester.

Indeed, 17 Cowdray Park Drive near Armonk, which came on the market in October and is listed for $24.9 million by Missy Renwick of Renwick Sotheby’s, is currently the most expensive house on the market in Westchester. Other homes rounding out the top five range in price from $17 million to $24.7 million.

Cutugno and Houlihan colleague Linda Gracie have one of those listings: 58 Cat Ridge Road in North Salem, which is asking $18.5 million.

The 9,000-square-foot home was designed by architect Mott Schmidt. It’s been dubbed “the last of the Georgians” in reference to the signature American Georgian Classic style Schmidt employed in designing early 19th-century grand homes for the likes of the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers.

The home, designed for Woolworth heir Richard Woolworth in 1934, sits on a 26-acre estate, has indoor and outdoor pools, a horse stable and paddock. The property came on the market in March 2012 at its current asking price.

Overall, Westchester sales were down 3.2 percent in October from the same time last year. The average sales price was $723,490 — down 12.3 percent from the same time a year prior.

The Priciest Listings in the Burbs

“Bored” Owner of Disneyfied Mansion Lists for 14.8M

November 20, 2013 01:00PM
By Julie StricklandExternal

What to do when your tricked out, multi-million dollar Long Island mansion starts to get stale after only two years? Slap it on the market for $14.8 million, of course. So goes the master plan of one owner, currently holed up in a lavish Atlantis-meets-Disneyland estate at 38 Applegreen Drive in Old Westbury, along Nassau County’s Gold Coast. His name, according to PropertyShark, is Zhang Jiamin. Listing broker Shawn Elliott of Shawn Elliott Luxury Homes & Estates described Zhang as a Chinese investor who is looking for a change. “It’s not that he’s bored of this house in particular, he just said he gets tired of houses and cars and likes to switch them up every two years or so,” Elliott told The Real Deal. Zhang won the property after going head-to-head in a three-way bidding war after the 8,745-square-foot home had been on the market for only three weeks, Elliott said. He paid $12.25 million for the mansion and its furnishings in 2011. Built in 2006 by the founder of credit processing firm EVO Payments, Ray Sidhom, the property takes bachelor pad décor to the next level. (Indeed, Elliott gave CBS a tour of the home last year. See video below.) Aside from the typical sprawling rooms, indoor pool, wine cellar and media room, the gated estate features floor-to-ceiling fish tanks. The master-bedroom suite, lined with button-operated drapes, boasts a balcony overlooking the outdoor stone grotto with a swim-up bar and Jacuzzi – like what you’d expect to see at the Playboy mansion, Elliott said. A million-dollar green piano that’s been on tour with Billy Joel and Elton John rounds out the living area, while an angel-filled fresco looks down on the living room from 20-foot ceilings. Zhang listed the home on Monday, and Elliott said his firm has already fielded several offers. At $14.8 million, the listing is one of the priciest currently available in Nassau County. The area’s most expensive listing, located in Brookville and home to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creator Mark Freedman, has a price tag of $15.8 million.

“Bored” Owner of Disneyfied Mansion Lists for 14.8M

Peter Madoff’s Former Long Island Home Lists for almost $4.5M

May 28, 2013 11:00AMold-westbury-peter-madoff

34 Pheasant Run in Old Westbury and Peter Madoff (Property photo via Zillow)

The former Long Island mansion of Peter Madoff, the younger brother of Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff, has hit the market again — for $4.495 million, the New York Times reported. U.S. Marshals took possession of the mansion at 34 Pheasant Run in Old Westbury in January, and listed it late last month. Peter Madoff was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in his brother’s multibillion-dollar fraud. A year prior to the sentencing, he initially listed the property for $6.5 million. The property sits on a four-acre plot and features a two-bedroom pool house, a tennis court, gardens and a marble ground floor, the newspaper said. The Marshals changed the locks, installed a surveillance system and hired contractors to do maintenance. The living room is 600 square feet and has an assortment of appraised and tagged items, from the gold-color lamps to a wooden coffee table. Woodbury, N.Y.-based broker Shawn Elliott Luxury Homes and Estates was tapped to sell the property, the Times said. Peter Madoff’s 975 Park Avenue two-bedroom co-op sold for $4.6 million, while his father’s Manhattan apartment went for $8 million. Proceeds on the sale of the Old Westbury home will go toward a compensation fund for Madoff victims. The U.S. Department of Justice has recovered more than $2.3 billion so far. [NYT] –Mark Maurer

Peter Madoff’s Former Long Island Home Lists for almost $4.5M

In NYC Suburbs, Sales Are Up, but Pricey Houses Struggle

August 10, 2012 10:30AM
By
Jane C. Timm

A home at 1 Cross Road in Bedford, N.Y., currently on the market with Houlihan Lawrence for $2.07 million.

Last year, Long Island real estate broker Maggie Keats worked with a young family looking for houses in Sands Point priced up to $2.5 million. But the family didn’t buy anything, and when they started looking again this spring, they’d changed their price point.

“They came to me and said, ‘We’ve reevaluated our budget. If we’d bought last year we could have spent that much, but we just don’t feel comfortable doing that now,’” said Keats, who works in Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Manhasset office.

In late June, her clients finally bought a Sands Point home, paying around $1.8 million for a slightly smaller house than they’d originally envisioned.

After a prolonged real estate slowdown, housing markets in New York City suburbs are finally starting to see a recovery. But while luxury Manhattan homes are currently selling faster than more modestly priced properties, the opposite is true in many suburbs. While activity is on the rise for cheaper suburban homes, pricey houses in some of these areas — especially those with long commutes into the city — are sitting on the market, brokers said.

Suburban homes priced between $2 and $3 million have seen “a clear drop-off in sales activity this year to date,” said Jonathan Miller, CEO of Miller Samuel Appraisers.

That trend is particularly apparent on Long Island, which saw just 44 sales priced between $2 and $3 million from January to mid-June of this year, down from 61 in the same period in 2011, according to data compiled by Miller.

Long Island, as well as Fairfield and Westchester counties, have also had fewer properties priced over $3 million trade this year than last year, although the total number of transactions for all three areas has increased.

One major reason for this trend is the continuing credit crunch. Many high-end buyers are young families moving from Manhattan, with one or both parents working on Wall Street. Five years ago, these buyers would have put a 10 to 15 percent down payment towards their purchase; today, they’re required to put down 30 percent, or even as much as 50 to 60 percent, brokers said.

As a result, buyers who previously would have stretched to buy a home priced above $2 million are now choosing to play it safe with slightly less expensive purchases. And those choices are having a noticeable impact on the housing market in some suburban communities.

“A lot of the architects we work with have mentioned that they’re building houses between 4,000 and 6,000 square feet, versus 8,000 to 10,000 square feet” during the boom, said Alison Bernstein, head of the Suburban Jungle Realty Group, which works with buyers leaving the city for suburbs in Connecticut, Long Island, New Jersey and other areas.

“People are being more conservative with what they want to buy,” she added. “They don’t want to risk everything if something happens.”

Lately, in particular, those fears have been stoked by the economic crisis in Europe.
“Nothing breeds caution like uncertainty,” Miller said. “I think a lot of that has to do with the uncertainty in Europe.”

The Manhattan real estate market is also impacted by weakness on Wall Street, but it’s not as vulnerable as the suburbs, brokers said, in part because of New York City’s appeal to international buyers.

“The international rich believe that Manhattan real estate is — and will remain — a safe investment,” said Gary Malin, president of the Manhattan brokerage Citi Habitats.

To get a sense of how high-end homes are faring in various communities, The Real Deal checked in with brokers in some of the city’s most sought-after suburbs.

Long Island

On Long Island, sales of homes priced between $2 and $3 million have fallen nearly 30 percent year-on-year, despite an overall uptick in the number of sales in the area, according to Miller’s data. (He noted that his data comes from the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island, which focuses mostly on Nassau and Western Suffolk counties.)

Keats, who is based in Nassau County, said she’s seeing healthy activity on homes listed below $2.5 million. But houses priced higher than that, she said, “just aren’t getting the viewings, they’re sitting on the market longer, and they are taking deeper price cuts.”

A major reason for that, several other brokers reiterated, is that buyers can no longer borrow as much money as they did during the boom.

Before the financial crisis, “you could put 10 percent down — you were able to buy more house,” said Shawn Elliott, the founder of Shawn Elliott Luxury Homes and Estates in Woodbury, Long Island. “Today, you’ve got to have 30 percent down, and you’ve got to have a credit score of around 700. It’s changed.”

Fears about the economy are also playing a role.

“People are just more conservative,” Keats said. “I think everyone is very uptight, and very few people have that much job security.”

Fairfield County

In Connecticut’s Fairfield County, sales climbed 9.4 percent in the first six months of 2012, according to Miller. But average prices dropped 9.3 percent to $618,185, from $681,467 at this point in 2011. And the area has seen a steep drop in homes priced over $3 million, with 31 houses trading so far this year, down 40 percent from 52 in the first half of last year.

In pricey Greenwich (which is excluded from Miller’s overall Fairfield statistics because it has a separate MLS), sales over $2 million are down 30 percent this year compared to the same period in 2011, according to Mark Pruner, a Prudential Connecticut Realty broker in Greenwich. By contrast, “the under-$2 million market is up 30 percent,” said Pruner, who blogs about real estate at GreenwichStreets.com.

Many Fairfield County residents commute to Wall Street, he said, so changes in compensation for financial workers have had a significant impact on the area.

Instead of paying bonuses in cash, “investment banks are giving out more of their bonuses in stock options, many of which will vest over the next three years,” he said, “and the value of those are just uncertain.”

Westchester County

In Westchester County, the average price of a home sold so far in 2012 is $782,077, down from $802,414 at this time last year, according to Miller. That’s despite the fact that a total of 1,611 homes have traded this year, up from 1,476 in the first six months of 2011.

“We’re sitting at the highest level of pending sales since 2005,” said Houlihan Lawrence COO Chris Meyers. “This is a full-fledged recovery, and the first time we can say that since Lehman Brothers.”

And yet, sales of luxury homes have lagged behind. So far this year, 29 Westchester homes priced over $3 million have sold, compared to 32 last year. And northern Westchester towns like Bedford, North Salem and Chappaqua are suffering from “low demand” in the $2 to $3 million range, Meyers said.

Muffin Dowdle, a top broker at Ginnel Real Estate in Bedford Hills, said she’s now seeing fewer Wall Streeters with young families moving to the area. “That guy that was going to buy that 6,500-to-7,500-square-foot new house — he is waiting to make sure he still has his job and the stock market chills out,” she said.

Brokers noted, however, that homes in towns like Rye, Port Chester and Scarsdale, which are only around 30 to 45 minutes by train from Manhattan, are faring better than those in Northern Westchester.

As of mid-June, Houlihan Lawrence had 84 listings in Northern Westchester, but just 11 pending sales, Meyers said. By contrast, southern Westchester had 116 listings and 52 pending sales.

Bergen County

The $2 to $3 million market in New Jersey’s Bergen County is still struggling, though it seems to be faring a bit better than last year.

So far in 2012, 29 homes in the $2 to $3 million range have sold, according to Dr. Ruth Miron-Schleider, owner and broker of Miron Properties in Bergen County. In the first half of last year, 24 properties in that price bracket were sold. Still, that’s far below the 39 that sold in the first six months of 2008.

Buyers who, in the past, would have looked at homes priced between $2 and $3 million “are now generally looking for mid-$1 million houses,” Miron-Schleider said.

In particular, Bergen County buyers are now very focused on how much they’ll be paying in maintenance charges and taxes, she said. Bergen has historically had one of the highest property tax rates in the country; last year, the average resident there paid around 8 percent of their annual income on property taxes — twice the national average.

Miron-Schleider said she also sees clients running into problems getting mortgages. “The biggest stumbling block is the financing,” she said.

In NYC Suburbs, Sales Are Up, but Pricey Houses Struggle

The ’Burbs

February 01, 2012
By Peter Kiefer

14 Buckingham Drive in Alpine, N.J., sold for $6.2 million.

14 Buckingham Drive in Alpine, N.J., sold for $6.2 million.

It’s a question many New Yorkers, especially those with children, ask themselves at some point: Buy an apartment in the city, or spend the same amount on a spacious house in the suburbs? When choosing the latter, New Yorkers often flock to the stately homes, McMansions and well-tended lawns of a few affluent counties just outside the city’s borders: Westchester and Nassau counties in New York, Fairfield County in Connecticut and Bergen County in New Jersey.

This month, The Real Deal checked in on these wealthy areas to see how their residential real estate prices are holding up.

We discovered that the real estate markets in these wealthy tri-state area suburbs mostly softened in 2011 compared to 2010 in terms of prices and sales activity amid national and global economic turmoil.

Like Manhattan, bucolic towns in these areas have star-studded residents ranging from Governor Andrew Cuomo to hip-hop artist Russell Simmons to Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. But even the high-priced deals saw substantial price slashing. Still, suburban super brokers told The Real Deal that they are already more optimistic about 2012.

Shawn Elliott, founder and CEO of Shawn Elliott Realty Luxury Homes and Estates in Nassau County, said activity in the luxury market has been “tremendous” so far in 2012.

One helpful factor, he said, is the difference in weather between this winter and last.

“Last year, we had two feet of snow on the ground from December to March,” said Elliott, who was featured on the HGTV program “Selling New York” last month. “You want to be able to see what you’re buying. Photographs don’t always do [homes] justice.”

On the following pages is a closer look at these suburban counties, including their five priciest sales for 2011.

Nassau: From East Egg to West Egg
Real estate sales in the Long Island county see slight drop, but prices creep up

Nassau's priciest residential sales, 2011

Nassau County lost a piece of real estate history last year when the house that reportedly inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald to write “The Great Gatsby” was leveled to make way for a subdivision of five homes.

And while both the new money of Fitzgerald’s West Egg and the old money of his East Egg are still home to some of the priciest towns in the New York area, 2011 wasn’t a blockbuster year for the county.

The number of Nassau home sales dropped 4 percent last year to 8,434, compared to 8,782 in 2010.

Still, at $400,000, the median sales price in 2011 was slightly higher than the $396,000 median registered in the county for 2010, according to data provided by brokerage Prudential Douglas Elliman.

Meanwhile, Nassau properties lingered on the market longer than they did in 2010. The average number of days it took to sell a residential property increased last year to 121, up from 113 in 2010.

Harding Real Estate’s Patricia Shroyer, who brokered Nassau’s third-priciest 2011 home sale, for $13.88 million, predicted that the health of the real estate market in the coming year would depend on the mentality of sellers.

While “2011 was not a great year, [and] 2010 was not a great year,” she said, “I am a little more optimistic in 2012. People are coming to the realization that they can’t ask the prices that they have been asking. The market is just not there.”

Shawn Elliott, founder and CEO of the Woodbury-based Shawn Elliott Realty Luxury Homes and Estates, which sold the fourth and fifth priciest Nassau homes in 2011, said 2012 has already started off strong for high-end sales. Elliott said he already has two $10 million offers on the table this year — both from Chinese buyers. In addition, both of his firm’s sales on the top five priciest deals list went to Chinese buyers.

“We’re working in Shanghai and Beijing, and I just hired a translator to help work with these buyers,” he said.

Here’s a look at some of the county’s priciest 2011 sales.

1. 39 Applegreen Drive (Old Westbury)
Sale price: $15.9 million
Original listing price: $16 million
Broker: Michael Berman, Automatic Real Estate Associates

The brick Georgian mansion at 39 Applegreen Drive in Old Westbury, built in 1925, was once owned by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, founder of the Whitney Museum of American Art, according to Berman. It actually went into contract in late 2010, but didn’t close until 2011, and its $15.9 million dollar price tag made it Nassau’s priciest sale of the year. The 22,000-square-foot, eight-bedroom home — complete with an indoor pool — sits on just over nine acres. The stately home was on the market for just six days, and barely dipped below its original listing price of $16 million. Berman said the deal involved a Chinese buyer who paid all-cash, and a seller who works in real estate.

2. 127 Horseshoe Road (Mill Neck)
Sale price: $14 million
Original listing price: $20 million
Broker: Bonnie Devendorf, Sotheby’s International Realty

The seven-bedroom, eight-bath Tudor at 127 Horseshoe Road in Mill Neck sold in July for $14 million, making it the second-highest Nassau County sale for 2011. But before finding a buyer, the property sat on the market for more than a year and saw a price chop of nearly 30 percent from its original, $20 million listing price. The home has six fireplaces and a media room. Devendorf did not return calls for comment.

3. 240 Middle Neck Road (Sands Point)
Sale price: $13.88 million
Original listing price: $16 million
Broker: Patricia Shroyer, Harding Real Estate

The $13.9 million sale of 240 Middle Neck Road in August was a record setter for ritzy Sands Point, according to Shroyer. The seller, now retired, bought the four-acre property in 1988, Shroyer said, then tore the house down in 2000 and built this home in its place, evidently sparing no expense: The Mediterranean-style, waterfront home has six bedrooms, nine bathrooms, an indoor pool and spa, a sunroom and a three-car garage.“There is a theater inside the house that is a replica of a small New York City theater,” Shroyer said. “Everything in the house is just amazing.” Nonetheless, the mansion saw a 13.25 percent price drop and sat on the market for 114 days. According to Shroyer, the buyer is another Long Islander, also retired.

Thawing out Bergen County
Affluent towns see inventory move, but sellers, including Russell Simmons, take lumps with massive price cuts

Bergen's priciest residential sales, 2011

In 2011, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons unloaded his mega-mansion in pricey Saddle River, N.J. — four years after it originally went on the market, and 50 percent below its initial asking price.

That aggressive discount typified the soft real estate market throughout New Jersey’s Bergen County last year.

“I have lived through downturns in the past, but this is the most significant one I have seen,” said Vicki Gaily, of Special Properties in Saddle River, the buyer-side broker on the Simmons’ sale.

Countywide, the number of home sales fell 3 percent in 2011 to 4,418, down from 4,537 in 2010. Meanwhile, the median price for homes that sold in 2011 was down 5 percent to $421,456 from $445,313 in 2010, according to data provided by Coldwell Banker.

In addition, it took longer for sellers to unload their homes. In 2011, the average number of days a home spent on the market shot up by 9 percent to 98.9, up from 90.7 in 2010.

However, brokers said things are improving, especially for the luxury market. “I do see a change in the confidence of the buyers and in the number of [luxury sales our firm] has achieved in 2011,” Gaily said.

According to Ruth Miron, owner of Tenafly-based Miron Properties, which also has a location in New York City, there is evidence high-end homes are increasingly moving.

In all of 2010, only 21 properties countywide sold at $3 million or more. In 2011, the number of properties that sold in that category climbed to 35.

“During the downturn, the market came to a screeching halt and it very slowly started resuscitating,” said Miron, who’s worked in Bergen County residential sales for 25 years. Since then, “we have seen increased consumer confidence and people are not afraid to once again shop for high-end, luxury real estate.”

Another factor, however, is that many high-end Bergen County homes are now deeply discounted.

“There has been a thawing-out process,” said Dennis McCormack of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, “where a lot of homes, the more tired homes that have been on the market for a good length of time, have sold at very aggressive prices — aggressive for the buyers, that is.”

Below is a breakdown of the county’s priciest sales of 2011.

1. 101 Fox Hedge Road (Saddle River)
Sale price: $10 million
Original listing price: $24 million
Broker: Stephanie Rosken, Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty

This 35,000-square-foot Saddle River mansion belonged to hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and his ex-wife Kimora Lee. The home was first put on the market in 2007, for an astonishing $24 million. But while the February 2011 sale was Bergen County’s priciest of the year, the 10-bedroom, 12-bathroom mansion — which has indoor and outdoor swimming pools, staff quarters and, according to published reports, a home movie theater with a ticket booth and popcorn machine — sold for less than half that, after multiple price chops. The house, which the couple reportedly bought for about $13 million in 2001, was also featured on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and MTV’s “Cribs.” The buyer was described by Gaily only as a “businessman.”

2. 14 Buckingham Drive (Alpine)
Sale price: $6.2 million
Original listing price: $9.98 million
Broker: Michele Kolsky-Assatly,
Coldwell Banker

This home in ritzy Alpine — which has counted Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Lil’ Kim and rapper Fabolous as residents, in addition to Stevie Wonder, Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia and many other celebrities — sold for $6.2 million in September, nearly 38 percent less than its original $9.98 million asking price. The 15,000-square-foot colonial was first put on the market in February 2010. It has a pool, movie theater, arcade room, elevator and wine cellar to go along with six bedrooms and seven full bathrooms. “It was a very unusual property because the backyard was all pool,” said Coldwell Banker’s Kolsky-Assalty, the listing agent. “So it took a different kind of client. As it turns out, we sold it to another grown-up couple with grandchildren.” She said the seller was in finance, while the buyer was in “real estate and investments.”

3. 20 Timberline Drive (Alpine)
Sale price: $5.3 million
Original listing price: $12 million
Broker: Dennis McCormack, Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty

The third priciest sale in Bergen County was 20 Timberline Drive, also in Alpine. Like Simmons’ home, this 10,400-square-foot, six-bedroom home also came on the market in 2007 and also saw its price chopped by more than 50 percent before selling last September. The home has a banquet-size dining room, a pool and a tennis court. McCormack, the broker, said the seller was a large Korean corporation that also owns homes in Manhattan and Beverly Hills, while the buyer was an international business executive who intends to gut renovate the house.

Fairfield top sales trounce suburban rivals
Greenwich delivers all of the county’s priciest sales, but overall market still slips

Fairfield priciest residential sales, 2011

As Connecticut’s closest town to New York City, Greenwich — with its spacious estates overlooking Long Island Sound — has long served as a bedroom community for wealthy Wall Streeters.

So it’s perhaps not surprising that Fairfield County’s top three sales — all of which were in Greenwich — trounced the top sales in the three other counties The Real Deal looked at this month. In fact, two of those three top sales were even on the same street: Field Point Circle.

But despite those blockbuster sales — which saw less-severe discounts than high-end properties in the other New York suburbs — the median sales price in Fairfield County as a whole still slipped 2 percent in 2011 from a year earlier.

The median Fairfield County sales price in 2011 was $465,000, down from 2010’s $475,000, according to data provided by the Wallingford-based Prudential Connecticut Realty, the largest full service real estate firm in Connecticut. Sales activity in the county — which in addition to wealthy suburbs like Greenwich, Darien and New Canaan, is also home to the struggling cities of Stamford and Bridgeport — also dropped last year to 5,610 sales, falling 6.4 percent from 2010’s 5,994 sales. In addition, homes stayed on the market a little longer in 2011 — 153 days, compared to 148 in 2010.

Sotheby’s International Realty’s Joseph Barbieri, the broker on the highest-priced Fairfield County sale of the year, said that those who priced their properties strategically came out ahead.

“Value was the name of the game,” he said. “People are looking for exceptional properties and for value.”

Fairfield County broker Terry Keegan, vice president of Fairfield County Real Estate Company, echoed that point, noting that part of the problem is that there are unrealistic expectations in the marketplace.

If sellers are being realistic, then there are plenty of buyers,” he said.

TV personality Regis Philbin is a case in point. He unloaded his 5,919-square-foot Greenwich home last month for $3 million — far less than the $5.9 million he’d listed it for in 2008. (Other celebrity residents in the town include director Ron Howard, TV show host Kathy Lee Gifford, Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira and countless others.)

“This is a simple business,” Keegan said. “There are plenty of buyers with plenty of money, but realtors are making it tough because they are afraid to tell sellers the way it is. They tell them what they want to hear, and that is why you see those markets dive.”

Below is a look at the three priciest Fairfield County sales in 2011.

1. 80-84 Field Point Circle (Greenwich)
Sale price: $39.5 million
Original listing price: $42.5 million
Broker: Joseph Barbieri, Sotheby’s International Realty

With a closing price of $39.5 million, 80-84 Field Point Circle in Greenwich can lay claim to the largest transaction in any of the suburban areas surveyed by The Real Deal this month. After 258 days on the market, the 21,000-square-foot mansion, which sits on 4.25 acres on the Sound, was snatched up in June after dipping from its original listing price of $42.5 million. The house is a century-old compound that was recently renovated. It has indoor and outdoor pools, two guest houses, a koi pond and, according to Barbieri, an exact replica of the Brooklyn Bridge, which, in photos, appears to be connecting the property to a dock in the Sound. “The house is just extraordinary,” said Barbieri.

2. 14 Meadow Lane (Greenwich)
Sale price: $32.5 million
Original listing price: $36.5 million
Broker: Brad Hvolbeck, Prudential Brad Hvolbeck Real Estate

Coming in at No. 2 is 14 Meadow Lane, which sold after 349 days on the market for $32.5 million. The 14,000-square-foot new-construction home, which was completed in February 2011, sits on a 14-acre estate and has an infinity pool, a four-stall horse stable, a mile-long bridal-walking path and a 3,000-square-foot guest house. The home was originally listed for $36.5 million. Hvolbeck declined to provide details about the buyers or sellers, citing confidentiality. He did say, however, that, “once [the buyers] saw the property, it was not long before they made an offer. The transaction happened quite quickly.”

3. 120 Field Point Circle (Greenwich)
Sale price: $25 million
Original listing price: $29 million
Broker: David Ogilvy, David Ogilvy & Associates

A second home on Field Point Circle rounds out the top three priciest sales for Fairfield County. The waterfront stone manor sold for $25 million in April after being on the market for 627 days with an original listing price of $29 million. The 10,000-square-foot home, which was built in 2003 and designed by architect Thomas Kligerman, has five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, an indoor pool and also has a koi pond. It also has a 70-foot-long great room, with three fireplaces. Ogilvy called it the best built house he had ever been in. The seller, he said, works in finance and the buyer is in the manufacturing industry. “The house is just total perfection. … You feel as if you are in Europe,” he said. “It really is a remarkable house.”

Tony Westchester slides into 2012
While home to some of New York’s most powerful players, the real estate market in the county lost value last year

Westchester's priciest residential sales, 2011

There’s no arguing that Westchester County is exclusive. Indeed, four of the state’s most influential residents — Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Hillary and Bill Clinton — all own homes in different Westchester County towns (Bloomberg in Bedford, Cuomo in Mount Kisco and the Clintons, of course, in Chappaqua).

But last year, New York’s biggest politicians likely lost some value on those properties. That’s because the county, which is known for its quality schools and high taxes, experienced a slight slowdown in 2011 compared to 2010.

The median sale price for the county dipped 4.8 percent to $600,000, down from 2010’s median price of $630,000, according to market data from brokerage Houlihan Lawrence, the largest residential brokerage in the county. (Still, that median was higher than the other three wealthy suburbs in The Real Deal’s spread this month.)

Meanwhile, the number of Westchester home sales also slipped 4.5 percent last year to 3,838 from 4,018 in 2010. And the average time a listing in the county sat on the market rose 2.8 percent from the prior year to 181 days.

In addition, the Journal News, which covers Westchester, cited a report last month from the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors showing that while sales of homes priced at $1 million-plus have traditionally made up about 16 percent of the county’s annual sale numbers, that has now fallen to 13.7 percent.

“We saw some weakness in the upper end,” Richard Haggerty, CEO of the association, told the newspaper. “I think that was because of layoffs on Wall Street and lower bonuses on Wall Street.”

Still, Houlihan Lawrence CEO Christopher Meyers said he expects sales volume to pick up in the first two quarters of 2012.

“The volatility on Wall Street put a lull out there, which affected us,” he said, “but we had our strongest holiday sales period in years. There were more deals in contract on Dec. 31 than any year since 2002. It feels like there was an inflection point in the fourth quarter.”

1. 290 Stuyvesant Avenue (Rye)
Sale price: $11.6 million
Original listing price: $12.5 million
Broker: Diana Plunkett, Houlihan Lawrence

After 135 days on the market, 290 Stuyvesant Avenue in the town of Rye sold in September for $11.6 million, making it the priciest sale in Westchester County — for both 2011 and 2010. Originally listed for $12.5 million, the six-bedroom, 7,991-square-foot home has views of the Long Island Sound and a private dock, as well as a guesthouse and a large exercise room. Plunkett said the buyers, who were represented by brokerage William Raveis, were a young couple with the husband working in finance. The sellers were also a young couple “looking to make a lifestyle change,” she said. Meyers said he expects more high-priced luxury deals like this one in the coming months as sales volume and prices climb. “This area’s supply is not quite fixed, but it is very limited due to the zoning and other regulations,” he said.

2. 9 Heathcote Road (Scarsdale)
Sale price: $10.9 million
Original listing price: $18.5 million
Broker: Mary Katchis and Dawn Knief, Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty

The second-priciest sale for Westchester County last year was this new-construction Scarsdale home — with a home theater, tennis court and pool — which sold for $10.9 million. But the sale did not come easily. Not only did the original listing price of $18.5 million get chopped by 41 percent, the home, which is 9,160 square feet and has seven bedrooms, was also on the market for almost two years. That, sources say, speaks to the correction that has occurred in some of the luxury residential markets in the New York suburbs since the Great Recession. Katchis and Knief were the listing agents, while Lisa Pitt of Paddington Stone Realty represented the buyer. Katchis declined to discuss the buyers and sellers on the deal.

3. 336 Stone Hill Road (Pound Ridge)
Sale price: $8.4 million
Original listing price: $10 million
Broker: Kathy Needell, Vincent & Whittemore Real Estate

After spending 515 days on the market, 336 Stone Hill Road in Pound Ridge — a town that, according to published reports, has been home to celebrities including newsman Tom Brokaw, actors Tim Robbins and Richard Gere and others — finally sold and, in doing so, became Westchester’s third-priciest sale of 2011. Built in 1935, the 6,954-square-foot home, which is on 12 acres and abuts more than 70 acres of conservancy land, saw a 16 percent price drop. It has five bedrooms in the main house, a two-bedroom guest house and a pool. Needell was the listing agent, while Renwick Sotheby’s International Realty represented the buyer. Needell declined to comment on the buyers and sellers, but noted that the house had extremely detailed woodwork and fixtures, and that the stone floors in the kitchen came from a palace in France. “It was an extraordinary house in detail, style and amenities, and has an unbelievable English garden,” she said.

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