Category Archives: Steve’s Commentary

Alpine’s Stone Mansion is back on the market at a $3M increase…$56 million

WOW! The Stone Mansion in Alpine, New Jersey suddenly reappeared on the njmls, just a few weeks after the listing was pulled. And now it was re-listed with a $3 million price increase.  Hey, what’s $3 million when you’re talking $50 million+!

This incredible ultra luxury 30,000sf mega home in Alpine, New Jersey, was once the most talked about and coveted listing in Bergen County…but it hasn’t sold after a lot of years on the market (though it was just completed about a year ago).  Now this magnificent home is listed with Preffered Residential & Commercial Realty in Englewood New Jersey (Sherry Zimmer, agent).

Will listing this one of a kind home, that only a few people in the world can afford, with another brokerage local firm and agent make any difference?  By the looks of it, their results will be no better than what the developer experienced using Sotheby’s.  It could even be worse.

Here’s what any broker is up against to sell this home:

  • How many people in the USA or anywhere else in the world can afford this home?
  • And how many of them are looking to buy a home?
  • And how many of those people want to live in northern New Jersey?
  • You’re competing for buyers in the Hamptons, and with the trophy properties in NYC…where there’s already a proven track record for NYC homes selling at incredibly high prices.  Compared to the sale prices for NYC trophy homes,  The Stone Mansion is considered only a modest home.

This is “finding a needle in a haystack” x 1 million

For this one, it’s all about real marketing.  Great marketing!  And that is something that has never happened. Listing this home on a web site and waiting for some billionaire to magically appear isn’t going to happen.  And a lawn sign on Closter Dock Road is another waste of time.  There’s aren’t too many billionaires, or movie stars traveling that road. So this sale isn’t going to happen locally.

And it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen nationally or internationally, if the brokers web site is any indication of the marketing effort.

First, the web site for this home is boiler plate cheap…just read the description and hit the button above the Property Details for the slide show.  The description is nothing like the quality found in Architectural Digest, and the pictures are horribly so low resolution, that they’re blurry when viewed online.  And the worst thing is, the web site is nothing more than a templated low budget Realtor type site that will accomplish turning someone off rather than creating a memorable impression.

When you’re looking to sell something so expensive and unique, your marketing has to be as equally grand to justify the price and to make people say WOW when they see it.  Unfortunately that’s not what we have here.

If this was a home that I built, I would have listed it with someone of the likes of Dolly Lenz at Douglass Elliman in NYC who has a long resume for selling trophy homes to wealthy clients…and I’d hire the best web designer around, to create something spectacular, and then market the living daylights out of it online.

You have to pick the right horse to run the race

And what’s even more troublesome is that some other brokerage firm…, has a listing of The Stone Mansion on their site…with a horrible slideshow featuring the background song Empire State of Mind (yep, an Alecia Keys rip off version?).  I’d be willing to bet that they didn’t pay the mega fee that would be required to license this song.

Check it out on Youtube 

In fairness to everyone, the luxury market in Bergen County and everywhere else surrounding Manhattan crashed big time.  It sucks everywhere, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.  In great times homes of this caliber took 3-5 years to sell…juat ask Donald Trump about his monster home in Florida that took him 4+ years to finally sell.  And just his name attached to the home was priceless for PR.
Disclaimer: Steven Konefsky acted as a consultant on this project several years ago…and remains friendly with the developer of The Stone Mansion.  My problem here isn’t with the developer…it’s with the brokers who have no idea how to market this home…one of the most expensive homes for sale in the country. Their inability is his failure. I also have my real estate license with Prominent Properties who lost this listing…though I’m not actively listing homes…at this time.  But after see this, that could very well change.

More on this listing to come.  So stay tuned.


More venting…photos this time

While I’m on the marketing kick and pictures, it also bothers me to no end, how someone can leave outdated pictures on a site and expect to sell the home for it’s best price…even in Tenafly.  A case in point is when Realtors get a listing in the fall when there are no leaves on the trees, but keep the same pictures on the site through the summer. 

Does anyone believe that this goes unnoticed by viewers, and that it doesn’t give a negative impression of the home and the price?

This is just another reason why homes sell for less than they should and why they take longer to sell.

There is something good that comes from this…in a few months the leaves will start falling again and the agent won’t have to spend the money on new pictures…until next spring, when the home is still for sale!

Gotta VENT about an underpriced home sale in Tenafly

Sorry, but I have to vent to someone about a home that recently sold and closed in Tenafly. This is a sale that could be a market killer in Tenafly…and I can’t believe what it sold for.

An incredibly beautiful 5,500 sf ultra luxury home on 1 acre, on Devriese Ct in Tenafly, was recently sold after a very long sales cycle.  The home has everything and it is impeccable: from the pool to the beautifully designed landscaping and private property, and a sought after cul-de-sac…which is a rarity in Tenafly, this was a perfect home.

Sorry for the low res photos, but that what you mostly get on the njmls. I think they take the pictures with cvs disposable cameras.  And it’s my belief that low quality content has a negative impact on sales prices. Marketing your home like kmart won’t bring Neiman’s prices

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  • Originally listed: 10/1/10 at $2,895,000
  • Sold for: $2,400,000

This home sold for LESS THAN the cost to build this same home anywhere else in Tenafly.

  • Land value is easily…$1,600,000
  • Cost to build at a bare bones minimum…$1,200,000
  • Landscaping and pool and driveway…$250,000

The minimum cost to rebuild this home, including the land is…$3,050,000 at the minimum!

I don’t care what anyone says…but this is what happens when you don’t market a home in a way that brings out it’s real value.

It’s a market killer because this is the home that other sales and appraisals will be compared to. 

If this is all a Realtor can get for a fantastic home on one acre of property in the hottest town in the region, then we have to be concerned about the values of other homes in Tenafly that are for sale.

This price screws everyone in Tenafly who not only wants to sell their home, but also for those who want to refinance their home.  This sale hurt every home in town, especially all the homes priced above $2.0M.  And the Realtors are going to start blaming the appraisers.  But sorry, but this one is on the Realtors.  If this is the best we can do on a fantastic home, then I shudder what will happen to anything less than fantastic.  It just proves that anyone can sell a home if you price it for less than its cost.

Congratulations Mr and Ms Purchaser…you got the steal of a lifetime!

Welcome to Tenafly

More sucko real estate marketing

Does anyone other than Realtors believe that listing product specs, such as room names, and calling out that a home has a FDR, or an MEIl, is considered real marketing?

If you were trying to sell your home in Tenafly for this $2,200,000 would this be good enough for you?  I doubt it!

Let me know what you think.

First of all, just about every home built has a master bedroom…oops an MBR

And just about every home has a dining room and a living room…oops a FDR and an FLR

And just about every single family home that was built after the 1950’s has an eat in kitchen…oops an MEIK

And almost every kitchen has a glass door leading out to a patio or a deck

Can you imagine Mercedes or BMW, just telling you that their luxury cars have 4 WHEELS, TINTED WINDOWS, AC & HEAT, A GAS TANK AND LEATHER SEATS…AND IT’S A MUST SEE! How many cars would sell and how much longer would it take to sell them

Or can you imagine going onto and seeing a sexy woman describing herself as…HAVE BLK HAIR, 2 LEGS, AND 2 ARMS AND HANDS, SIZE 10 FT…AND I’M YOUR DREAM COME TRUE! Would this womans phone be ringing off the hook?  No and she’ll be dateless for her entire life if that’s the way she markets herself!

And just about every home has a master bathroom…and yes with a jacuzzi…or a Kohler whirlpool tub

And I bet that most family rooms (FR) also have a fireplace (fpl)

And just about every home has lots of other rooms and windows, and flooring too.


And I even bet that every home is great for family relaxing or living and entertaining! I really want to vomit when I read this one

Oh yes…and every home has windows that allow natural sunlight into the home.

So my point is, that if all a Realtor says on their listings, is the same thing that all the other Realtors say about their listings, then how the hell do they compete and attract buyers when they read this crap online.

Honey, I just found our dream home, it has an MBR, FLR, FDR AND AN MEIK!  Oh you found the same thing in another house in Tenafly too…and another one, and another one.

Sorry, but no one in the world of real marketing, would consider this to be real marketing

It’s nothing more than a modern day free classified ad.

Sorry, but this is the best they have to offer in the way of marketing your home.

When you find out that this doesn’t work, allow me to introduce you to their next best marketing strategy…price reductions.

Let’s face it…real estate marketing sucks, and that’s why homes take so long to sell and why they sell for less than they should

Good luck, because you’re going to need it.

Sorry, but your home isn’t being marketed, it’s only being listed.

If you’re ready for some real marketing, then email me at

It’s time for real estate marketing to add some WOW. Quit being boring!

From time to time, in order to add a little excitement to the site, I’m going to post some things that catch my eye.  

The reason for this is really simple…marketing!

Not marketing to boost my viewership, but to show, sellers, agents and real estate developers, just how horrible they are at marketing their products. I’ve never seen an industry that is soooo pathetic at marketing homes, office buildings and everything else real estate.

Check out the houses for sale in Tenafly on the njmls, and tell me if there’s any WOW to it.

I’m looking for some WOW stuff!

After being in the biz for my entire life, real estate marketing has become a real turnoff (it’s always been a turn off for me).  And everyone suffers because of it.  Things take longer to sell or lease than they should, and mostly everything sells for less than it should.

All because of horrible marketing!

So I’m going to start posting things that scream out WOW when I see it.

And then I’m going to talk about how we can use it to sell more houses in Tenafly…and sell them faster and for higher prices.

I know all the Realtors will say it won’t work.  But that’s coming from people who have been doing it the same way for decades, and they’re not creating any more sales, or faster sales, or adding value via their marketing.  Run from anyone who tells you that marketing homes doesn’t work.

Some of it will be feminine and sexy, and some will be macho and powerful…and sexy as well.

Sorry but I’m tired of looking at boring, ugly sleep inducing real estate marketing.

It’s the most uneventful crap out there!

Let me know what you think!


First up is some kick ass jewelry that I came across on a really cool site that I follow called… le zoe musings

The post is called…More arm swag please!

I find the photography interesting and sexy…and their use of filters gives the photos a great look.

Great stuff even for a guy to check out.

Guess you could say that I’m in touch with my feminine side

If they can make jewelry look sexy and WOW, then why can brokers make it happen with real estate?

Agents need to open their eyes, trash their disposable cameras, and use an iphone, Instagram, and iphoto enhancements and start creating some interesting shots.

Be different or be invisible!

And if you haven’t noticed on this site, I’m into BIG photos.  It’s all about grabbing a viewers attention, and big makes a powerful statement

Crappy pictures lower the vaue of your house and make it harder to sell

I have a real simple question…if you’re trying to sell your house in Tenafly or Alpine, or anywhere else in Bergen County for that matter does it matter how good the quality of the pictures are?  Is a dull, crappy, low resolution picture just as good as a high resolution with vivid colors?

And can pictures shown with Instagram type filters be even more effective than any other types of pictures?

Does a plain boring photo of a room, have the same effect on viewers as one that has been digitally enhanced to make it stand out?

Something is horribly wrong “” in the burbs of Bergen County…Realtors suck at marketing homes.

Pictures are a big part of marketing, but to suburban Realtors and the njmls, the concept seems to go unnoticed. But it doesn’t go unnoticed by consumers who are looking for a WOW MOMENT when they’re looking to purchase a home.

Creating a memorable impression via stunning pictures has never been easier, but you would never know that by looking at pictures of homes for sale in Bergen County

Most pictures look like they were taken using a disposable camera that anyone can get from your local cvs.  And is there a law in Realtorland where the exterior of each home house has to be shot from the same angle.  And where a shot of each room has to be taken from the back of the room looking out…and taken from the same height, which is just a bit taller than a munchkin?  The “photographers” who take pictures for all of the Realtors must have gone to the same 10 minute photography course…because all the pictures look the same!

They like to say that a picture is worth a thousand words.  But I ask…if the picture sucks, then is the picture worth a thousand bad words (or worse…none)? And does a great shot add more value to the home than horrible shots?

When you look at pictures of homes on some of the New York City brokerage sites like Corcoran, Douglass Elliman, and Town, these sites blow away every site in our suburbia.  Why do you think that is?  They get it and suburban Realtors don’t.  And they understand the meaning of competition, and what it takes to sell consumers.  Though these big companies only recently started showing full screen, high resolution pictures…they’re doing it.

As a builder and real estate developer, I argued about this point with every agent and brokerage firm I ever hired to sell my homes or lease my buildings.  But they always fall back on the idea that what they do is good enough, and that they’re doing what everyone else is doing. That’s a horrible business model

Check out these pictures:

#1 and 2 show a boring picture directly from the njmls, and one that I enhanced…and it took me less than 30 seconds to enhance the photo using Apple’s iphoto software

#3 and 4…I did the same.  And btw, the snow that is visible out the window is still showing even though we’re entering August. How funny is that

#5 and 6…5 came from the njmls and 6 I added color depth and faded the edges.  It’s a cool look that grabs your attention

#7, 8 and 9…again the original boring one from the njmls, then the righ color enhancements and #9 I threw in the Instagram effect  and came up with something that millions of Instagram users just love!

Remember…marketing is the art of grabbing a buyers attention, creating a WOW factor and getting some really excited about wanting to know more about your home.

It’s the start of a love connection…and a sale.

Make it look sexy!

Click the first picture and it turns into a slide show…and you can jog back and forth to compare the differences.

I push photography to the limits when I present homes online, because ” I get it”.  I know that it makes a world of difference when viewers see a spectacular photo, rather than something ordinary.

Who else will do this for you?  No one!

Maybe that’s one of the reasons why my homes always sold faster and for more money than the agents ever expected.

Next post…size matters!

Be different, or be invisible!

More retail for Nutley and Clifton?

Roche announced Tuesday that it plans to shut the 83-year-old location, which includes 2 million square feet of space on a 119-acre campus. The site once was home to 5,000 workers, but now contains only 1,000 employees and 1,000 contract or temporary workers. Roche said it plans to end operations by the end of 2013, clean up pollution on the site and sell it by the end of 2015

As per a past in…Retail development expected for much of 119 acres Roche is leaving. it seems as though the commercial real estate brokers have their mind made up as to what the 119 acres that Roche will be leaving behind will be used for…at least in their mind.

Can’t wait to see what actually happens many years from now, when the people who actually have to put up the money to purchase the property the plane it out and obtain all the necessary approvals to develop it come up with.

By then who knows what will happen with the economy, retail development, retail in general, and with the change in demographics.

The smartest comment on the matter comes from famed super-broker Andrew Merin of Cushman & Wakefield….

Real estate brokers said Nutley and Clifton would probably resist large-scale residential development on the site, because of the cost of providing services, especially schools, for a big influx of new residents. But Merin said multi-family development on at least some of the site would increase the tax base and provide needed housing.

“That’s how you attract young people back to these towns,” he said.

Retail and towns will die in suburbia if young people are forced to live elsewhere because of ta lack of affordable housing, and a lack of mass transportation…and all the other amenities that today’s buyers are looking for.

119 acres is a huge project, and an equally huge undertaking, and it would be a crime not to develop an all inclusive mixed use project as Hartz Mountain and Gene Heller has done in the past in many communities.  Mixed use projects are where it’s at for the future development of large scale projects.  Developers need to give back something of value to the communities they want to build in…and this is the way to do it.

And btw, by the time it takes to put a shovel in the ground, who knows what the state of retail will be. Will consumers need more places to shop for  items they can easily get online?

Fort Lee’s affordable housing dilemma, isn’t such a dilemma

Advocates sue Fort Lee over project

Hudson Lights

The Center at Fort Lee

I’ve always been a an advocate of New Jersey’s effort to create affordable housing.

  • affordable housing helps stabilize local real estate markets
  • it makes it affordable for some to live in the town that they grew up in, but can’t afford to live there because of exclusionary and antiquated zoning laws that create larger and more expensive properties and incredibly high taxes
  • it help create a better mix of residents…young, old, move up buyers, first time buyers without families, and move down buyers who want to remain part of the community they helped build
  • and it stops developers from raping a community for their own profits

Though not all of the line items for the Affordable Housing Act are fair to developers or towns, the program has nonetheless worked to the benefit of New Jersey as a state-wide community.

Having built numerous projects in several New Jersey towns, I believe that developers need to give back to the community, for being allowed to develop projects for profit.

However, in the case of the article in, it’s unreasonable for the developers of these two projects in Fort Lee to set aside 20% of the units for affordable housing.  That is an unreasonable percentage given our current economic conditions…at this time.

There is a way to work out a compromise where in the future, when the market changes and grows and rents can be increased, the number of affordable units could then increase at that time.  A simple solution for a not so complex matter that’s a win win for everyone.

Let me know what you think.


Home builders and spec homes

Some builders are at it again.  Buying land and bidding up properties with the idea that the market is looking positive for the future.

What amazes me the most is that they’re even bidding up raw land that needs to be approved, and developed, which could take years to accomplish. I can’t figure out what’s going to happen in a few months and these guys are anticipating what’s going to many happen years down the road. Didn’t anyone learn a lesson over the past five years.

I guess they have the money to risk.  It’s a gutsy move, but they’re putting their money where their mouth is.  I wonder how much the banks are financing on these speculative projects.

Here’s a well though out and insightful article from Robbie Whelan at the WSJ….What home builders need: locations, locations, locations

Bidding wars are breaking out for lots in prime locations, with some builders developing raw land themselves in Atlanta’s nearer suburbs such as Roswell, Dunwoody and Johns Creek.

One such battle unfolded at the Paddocks, a 240-acre subdivision near Cumming, a suburb near an interstate with a public school district that has a good reputation. In the past six months, four publicly traded builders bid up the price on a patch of raw land planned for about 130 houses to nearly $90,000 an acre from $40,000 an acre, according Scott McGregor, a land broker with Resource Real Estate Partners, which is handling the deal.

“Eighteen months ago no one would talk about buying undeveloped land,” Mr. McGregor said. “Today, everyone is clamoring all over each other to get these good land positions.”

These are incredibly gutsy moves by the home builders.  Or maybe they see something that the rest of us don’t see.

Many economists predict that builders will start work on between 700,000 and 750,000 units of housing in 2012. That is up from 608,000 starts last year but well below the annual average of 1.7 million built between 1998 and 2004 and far less than the two million at the peak of the market in 2005. Of course, fewer new homes being built means a tighter supply of existing homes, which could help push up prices.

Let us know what you think