Archives for the month of: February, 2011
Rumors have been spreading that Billy Joel bought the former Leona Helmsley Estate on 521 Round Hill Rd. but his publicist has denied it. 
Public records simply state 521 Corporation, 230 Park Ave, #659 – bought it for $35M, and according to tax records, only 9.16 acres were sold for this price. For the last list price of $55M it included over 40 acres…the original list price was $125 in 2007 after the last owner’s death.
This property has not exactly enjoyed the best of luck:
  • Built in 1918 as a gift to his daughter, Daniel Grey Reid built it for $1M – 28 rooms, 21,000 SF
  • In 1950 it was sold to Loring Washburn whose financial empire subsequently quickly fell apart. By 1963, the property was in complete ruin and was taken from him. For a few years the property sat vacant
  • In 1966 it was sold to former showgirl Gregg Sherwood Dodge Moran (whose former husband shot himself in the head) who sold it 2 years later to financier Jack R.Dick. DIck was indicted for financial misdoings and died before his case went to trial in 1974
  • The next owner was Ravi Tikkoo – who had made fortunes in supertankers, but 10 years later also was bankrupt forcing him to sell the property to Leona and Harry Helmsley in 1983 for $11M, which they intended to use as a summer home. As we know about the Helmsleys, their tax evasion criminal trials led to 18  months in jail for Leona and Harry’s death. After serving her sentnece, Leona made Dunnellen Hall her full time home, and lived there until her death in August 2007.
When I toured the house, it had recently been reduced to the last list price.  Aside from the expected, obvious taste in decor/furnishings, the absolutely breathtaking view and property and the enormity of the house itself, my less published observations were the dramatic disparity between the servant portion of the house and the Queen’s living quarters. I also found it curious that they hadn’t removed a huge stain that was by her highness’s bed in very dense ivory carpeting. Preserving memory? A marked spot? I thought that it was just plain weird.

The criteria for deducting expenses is that the expense has to be ordinary and necessary, directly related to your business and reasonable in amount (IRS CODE SECTION 162)

Here’s the list:

  • advertising expenses which includes  websites, mailing lists, newspaper advertising, fliers, online advertising, postcards, promotional materials, logo clothing, and any expense related to marketing your real estate business
  • bookkeeping, accounting and legal fees
  • business gifts (up to $25)
  • business meals and entertainment (only 50 percent deductible)
  • cab fares for business travel
  • car and truck expenses, including business mileage, depreciation, insurance, interest on car loans, lease payments, license plate fees, parking expenses, and tolls
  • cell phones
  • computer software
  • computers
  • desk fees
  • education to maintain or improve required skills (but not courses you take to pass the real estate licensing exam)
  • home office expenses (if you qualify)
  • insurance, including health insurance, errors and omissions insurance, business liability insurance, and business equipment insurance;
  • interest, such as interest for business loans, interest paid on business credit cards;
  • Internet access fees
  • map books
  • office equipment (cost may be deducted in one year using bonus depreciation or IRC Section 179);
  • office expenses, including rent, cleaning and maintenance, and utilities
  • office supplies
  • postage
  • professional dues and fees — for example, multiple listing service dues and dues paid to the local Chamber of Commerce, Realtor associations, and real estate license renewal fees
  • referral fees and commission rebates
  • retirement plan contributions
  • subscriptions to professional journals
  • real estate franchise fees
  • taxes, including payroll taxes for employees, state and local business taxes
  • telephone service fees
  • travel to business conventions, including transportation, lodging and food
  • wages and benefits paid to employees

Yesterday’s housing news was dismal, but is it all bad? – According to Shiller the other half of Case:
“There’s a substantial risk of home prices falling another 15%, 20% or 25% more,” he said. 
His reasoning is that the presence of Fannie and Freddie will be greatly reduced, and since they guarantee approximately 2/3 of the mortgages, what will be necessary is that private money will have to bridge the gap, and the cost of money is guaranteed to rise.
Buy now and forever enjoy your gain….

  • Low Prices
  • Low Interest Rates
  • Lots of inventory
  • Buyers’ market
Have your cake and eat it too!
Of course the biggest problems are unemployment, and credit is still tight. It used to be that 15% down was acceptable. Can we please go back to that? If a buyer is working, has good credit, is not going over the income to monthly payment ratio – can we please loosen up and allow people to own homes again before the S – – – hits the fan?
P.S. I first bought a home in NYC when it was less expensive to own than it was to rent. The rental market was insanely expensive, and history is repeating itself…the market will eventually even out – and you know what else I predict? It will go back up as well – up > down > up > down – we have seen it over and over again….well those of us who are old enough to remember.
The NY Times featured an article this weekend about how pets have helped to sell homes in the city….now of course one needs to be an animal lover, or at least appreciate them –  as opposed to the few who have dislikes for pets – or have allergies…
So the article goes on to say that some clients were charmed by the greetings that they received from kitties or dogs that were allowed to roam throughout the apartments during showings…..
If nothing else, the furry dwellers do have an affect in helping clients remember the listings – I can say this from personal experience. During our frenzy to find a home a few years ago, after seeing so may homes, many of them began to look the same. But I can tell you specifically about the homes that had wonderful pets… or the ones that I connected with.
I wonder if our pets can us as realtors in selling ourselves. I recently thought about taking an ad, but rather than the corny head shot that we all use, having my big, beautiful kitty’s face instead….

OK – we all make them, but when I see blatant and numerous errors on one listing, I wonder how this person got the listing in the first place…unless they are related to the seller.

  • Year built and year renovated – the same year – 1968 (I don’t think it was a flip)
  • Acres – 4,110.00 – For the price of $5.2 in Greenwich, CT – I’ll take it
  • No square footage listed
  • No photographs – in this day and age – I never understand this one….
  • The description reads that it was completely renovated in 1988 – that was 23 years ago
“Try a little harder” – I can hear my father saying, and I thank God, that my parents drilled certain things into my head.

I just love barns – ask my husband and his eyes will roll so far in the back of his head….with all the conversation lately about how the new baby boomers will be looking at home ownership in a simpler way, the barn style of living could REALLY catch on…
Yankee Barn Homes is a wonderful site to peruse – and they have an interesting contest, giving farmer’s markets the opportunity to win a barn….
See the details!
The below description of the contest details is taken directly from their site

“Yankee Barn Homes is giving away this 24-ft x 36-ft open air barn structure to a deserving farmers market!

Yankee Barn Homes, the Farmers Market Coalition, and the American Farmland Trust celebrate our nation’s farmers markets’ commitment to local economic development and healthy living with the first ever Farmers Market Great Barn Giveaway. Farmers markets are good for everyone. They support healthy lifestyles, make fresh, nutritious food available to more people, and preserve America’s rural landscapes. Yankee Barn Homes applauds farmers markets, which strengthen local and family farms, consumers, and communities.

Contest Details

The purpose of the Farmers Market Great Barn Giveaway is to celebrate our nation’s farmers markets’ commitment to local economic development and healthy living.
Yankee Barn Homes, the Farmers Market Coalition and American Farmland Trust are proud to join forces to support our local farmers markets. Our community farmers markets support healthy lifestyles, make fresh, nutritious food available to more people, and preserve America’s rural landscapes. It is a free contest open to any farmers market in the 48 contiguous U.S. states. The goal is to lend support to a deserving market through the donation of a barn structure. The barn giveaway will help the winning farmers market in housing its market or market supplies as well as raising visibility, community support and participation.”

How sweet! 100 Brookside Dr – Greenwich – Close to train, library, shops, restaurants…North Street Schools – just plain sweet – Asking $1,795,000

A kitchen built for a Family

  • 7 Bedrooms
  • 4+ Baths
  • .57 acres
  • $9,677 Taxes!
  • Assessed Value $1,070,440

This was a relative bargain for someone, however, it appears that there may have been a bidding war? It closed higher ($1,230,000) than the list price ($1,195,000)

1 Turner Dr Front

The last market sale was in 2007  and the sold price was $2,195,000.

It currently is assessed at: $1,309,210

  • 5 Bedrooms
  • 3 1/2 baths
  • Fireplace
  • 1+ acre
  • Location in Calhoun Association
Screened Porch

There’s more to this story than meets the eye – or what will be disclosed here – suffice it to say…
407 Round Hill Rd is now on the market for $4,900,000 – Present assessment – $2,972,970 – zoned RA4 – 7.34 acres  – yes complete with the cell tower, and shared driveway and directly behind Round Hill Community Church.
407 Round Hill Rd
Renovated Kitchen
The Stamford Advocate reported on September 1, 2009:

“Robert B. and Andrea A. Weiss sold to Washington Mutual Bk, property at 407 Round Hill Road for $3,905,311.”

Then, JP Morgan Chase sold it in 2009 for $1,800,000 – to Coastal Fund 2 LLC – the present owner.
Now I know that the cost of construction has most likely risen since they purchased the property 2 years ago – but the difference in the sold price of $1.8 and the current ask $4.9 – I can see from the listing photos that the kitchen was renovated, as well as the master bath – but the other photos look very similar to what I saw when I looked at the house while Weichert had the listing, which is not reported in the history – see below
The current history is illustrated below, but it doesn’t account for 10 years. Being new to the business, I may be wrong,  but I thought that the MLS history goes back 10 years, or as long as the home has existed, if less than 10 years.

GMLS sales history only gives recent information about this property:

Property History Information 
407 ROUND HILL RD   1         MLS# 78356      LND     ACT        $ 4,900,000 Date 02/08/11  
407 ROUND HILL RD   0         MLS# 78348      RES     ACT        $ 4,900,000 Date 02/07/11   
407 ROUND HILL RD   154    MLS# 66103      RES     CANCL    $ 5,295,000 Date 09/10/07    
407 ROUND HILL RD   1         MLS# 66103      RES     ACT        $ 5,295,000 Date 04/10/07  
(c) Info Believed To Be Accurate, But Subject To Verification By All Parties 02/11/11 09:40 AM Unit# DOM Unit# DOM Unit# DOM Unit# DOM 
Another piece of the puzzle:

Weichert had the listing prior to the GMLS history above as mentioned before  –  it was on the market for $1,660,600…and back then, we were told as consumers, that they were entertaining bids….moral to that story, is that if you really want real estate, put the bid in writing. 

Per Trulia – with the OFF MARKET caption stating – “This property was previously listed for sale on Trulia. The listing may have been withdrawn or the property may have been sold, but Trulia has not received a record of the sale and the details of the transaction from public record.”

Weichert’s asking price of $1,660,600 (see below) – so they most likely sold it for a bit less – REO information is tough to research and my time is better monetized by selling homes….email me.

Listing Information

Most recent information provided by Weichert Regional Properties:

  • Price: $1,660,600
  • Status: Unknown
  • 6 Bedrooms
  • 4 full, 2 partial Bathrooms
  • 4,789 sqft
  • Single-Family Home
  • Built In 1979
  • Lot Size 7.32 acres

    I recently read in the Wall Street Journal, that many people looking for homes today, made their decisions based on lucky numbers….or seemingly random occurrences happen numerous times, therefore, they are perceived as “signs”. I know that when I lived in New York, in a city with millions of spaces to choose from, both of my apartments were on the 11th floor…
    So if your lucky number is 3 – and you want to own a home in Greenwich, CT – this should be the one:
    3 Bedrooms – 3 Baths – 3 Car Garage – 3 Fireplaces – Half of 3 acres
    3 Days on Market – Priced Under $3M for a home beautiful location in Greenwich , CT
    List Price: $2,250,000
    Assessed: $2,122,610
    144 Zaccheus Mead
    Beautiful Inside Out Room
    Romantic Living room with Beautiful Fireplace

    C’est la Vie en Trois!