Category Archives: Ultra-Luxury Homes

Bergen County Luxury Home Market On Life Support

So many luxury homes for sale & not many sold = PROBLEMS

Luxury Home For Sale Cresskill, New Jersey

The luxury market may be flying high in Manhattan and elsewhere in New York City where luxury apartments are selling for insane prices, but out here in the suburbs of Bergen County, which used to be the hotbed for  the luxury market in New Jersey, on its death bed…as it has been since the market crashed



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Here’s some facts:

  • Only 23 homes priced above $3 million have sold to date in 2013
  • The 5 most expensive homes sold: $13,375,000…$10, 500,000…$6,375,000…$5,500,000…$5,125,000…
  • Only 5 homes were sold in 2013 priced above $5 million
  • There are 95 single family homes listed for sale priced above $3 million
  • The most expensive home for sale in Bergen County is the “Gloria Crest Estate” in Englewood that is listed for $29,900,000. Guess they wanted to keep it under $30 million.  The home was originally listed for $39 million…and it was purchased in 20000 for $4,672,500.  Unfortunately the agents pictures don’t do this home justice…2 yr old picts taken in an off season doesn’t help the sales effort
  • There are 30 homes for sale priced above $5 million
  • The 5 most expensive homes for sale are $29,900,000…14,500,000…$14,000,000

Though there is a sizable percentage increase (90%) in sales for this price range, the number of homes sold (a 9 home increase…most in the $3M range) is insignificant compared to the number of homes that are for sale…95 homes

Towns with the most luxury homes for sale priced above $3 million:

  • Alpine…25 homes for sale
  • Saddle River…19
  • Cresskill…11
  • Franklin Lakes…8
  • Tenafly…8
  • Demarest…11

As with everything on this site, we let the numbers speak for themselves.  The luxury market is deader than dead, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

Tell us what you think the future is for these ultra luxury homes


Is the most expensive home for sale in US a PR ploy, or can it sell

I guess the luxury home pricing fever that’s been blazing (and selling) in New York City , has finally found its way to the   suburbs surrounding Manhattan.

It was only a matter of time before every who owned the mega of mega mansions let their egos go wild, and try to cash in on the luxury home bonanza.

I caught wind a few days ago that the most expensive home in the United States was just listed in Greenwich Ct for $190 million dollars.

$190 Million Lauder Greenway Estate, Greenwich, CT
$190 Million Lauder Greenway Estate, Greenwich, CT

Sure it’s a big home with lots of rooms, and bathrooms and property, but who in their right mind, or with a large enough wallet will pay $190 million.  And hey, the home comes with all the kitchen and laundry appliances!

I’m not making this up…check out the listing

  • First there’s on;y a few people in the entire world who can afford the price tag
  • And $190 million price tag for a developer to purchase it is even less unlikely, because any way you look at it’s insanely over-priced for a developer

When I along with my father-in-law Gene Heller and Starwood-Heller Enterprises developed Tamcrest Estate in Alpine and Cresskill New Jersey, starting in 2001, we paid $22 million for the undeveloped 54 acre property and we were able to create 34 building sites…seven 2 acre properties and twenty seven 1 acre properties.  Tamcrest Estates became incredibly successful in part because we caught the market at the right time, and the people who had the money were more than happy to put it into their home…in-part because the stock market was out of favor and real estate was seen as a great investment .

The homes at Tamcrest Estates ranged in price from $4 million to $45 million.  But times have changed and these huge suburban homes aren’t seen a great investments, even at dramatically reduced prices (trophy and unique homes may be the exclusion).

From a real estate developers perspective, the $190 million price tag makes absolutely no sense for development potential.  If they really want to go for the gusto, then a better way to approach this would be to subdivide the property and sell off the individual properties.

Additionally, the demographics have changed, as have the mindsets of the super wealthy, who are now dumping their dollars into Manhattan…because Manhattan will always be Manhattan…the mecca for the wealthy.

So with the city on fire, and the mega luxury market in the suburbs simmering, the $190 million Lauder home my be just another publicity stunt to get people to take notice the home and brokerage firm…and that could work, for a few weeks….and on google forever.

$49 million Stone Mansion, Alpine, New Jersey
$49 million Stone Mansion, Alpine, New Jersey

However, if you’re seriously interested in a brand new grand home that is a bargain (recently reduced to $49 million) compared to the Lauder Greenway family estate, there’s an amazing home for sale in Alpine New Jersey named the Stone Mansion …which is part of the former Frick Estate (like the Frick Museum). Alpine has been anointed by Forbes as one of the most expensive zip codes in the Country and is located lust a stones throw from Manhattan.

This home is only one of a number of magnificent estates available for purchase on the grounds of the former Frick Estate…

3 Most Expensive Luxury Homes Sales 2012…Big Disappointment

Somewhere in the Country luxury homes may be selling, but it’s not happening in Bergen County New Jersey

But this isn’t all bad news.  With all the ultra luxury homes, or so called mansions, that are for sale, and have been sitting unsold for extended periods of time, it’s a buyers market.

Here are the 3 most expensive home sales in Bergen County for 2012

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#1…2 Margo Way, Alpine New Jersey

The good news is that this Alpine New Jersey ultra luxury mansion took only a year and a half to sell.  But the bad news is that it sold at at 41% discount from the asking price. How can anyone be so wrong about the value of a home…or any product for that matter.

This amazing 34,000 sf estate was originally listed for $34 million…that’s a$1,000sf. And it finally sold for $20 million…which is probably close to what it cost to originally build and decorate.

If your design taste is molding on top of molding…and even more moldings then this home had the perfect interiors

#2…5 Alford Rd, Saddle River, New Jersey

This new (when it was first listed for sale years ago) Saddle River luxury home was listed and relisted for sale so many times since 2004, that I’s need to create a flow chart just to keep track of the timing…but I’m not doing it.

The key points for this 16,000sf Robert Zampolin designed monster are:

  • Originally listed for sale in 2004 at $9,250,000
  • The home finally sold in September 2012 for $6,000,000

The home sold at a whopping 37% discount…and it took 8 years to do it.
Note: the home was leased for 1year during 2009-2007

The point here is that the builder built a home that he thought he could sell for $9 million and ended up selling it for $6 million a very long time later.

Since this site is all about marketing homes so they get noticed and sold faster…and for their highest value…I have to point out that the same minuscule photos and horrendous listing description was used throughout all the years this home was listed for sale. Listing room names and a few items and sprinkling in terms like regal and palatial is mediocrity at its best.


#3…899 Closter Dock Rd, Alpine, New Jersey

This is another home that was on and off the market for years.

Though the njmls doesn’t show it, if my memory serves me correctly the home at some point was listed for $10 million…it finally sold for $5.2 million…that’s a 48% price chop.

I loved the homes exterior…but the interior of the home was stone cold ugly.  Bad taste can just ruin the value of a home.  The same listing description forever, didn’t help the sales price either.


Northern New Jersey luxury market getting clobbered by NYC luxury sales

Why is New York City having a banner year(s) selling incredibly expensive ultra luxury homes (and everything else for that matter), and Bergen County, New Jersey is having another only soso year…and a another horrible year for the ultra expensive end of the market.

Usually when NYC condo sales and prices skyrocket, and rents increase, buyers start flocking out of the city to the New York suburbs. Bergen County has always reeled in a huge portion of the exodus….but that’s not happening now.

The Iconic New York by Gehry building

Sales of ultra luxury homes in Bergen County are down 47% in 2012, and 2010-2011 wasn’t any better. But sales  of ultra luxury units (trophy properties) in Manhattan have been booming the past several years.

The New York Times reported that Kiefer Sutherland recently sold NYC his townhome for $17+ million, which is just a drop in the bucket compared to all of the trophy sales that have been happening north of $50 million.  Yet in the affluent New Jersey suburbs, the high end of the market is gasping for air.

Even luxury home sales in the Hampton have hit the breaks.

The end effect, is that the NYC housing market is further killing the suburban market…and the effects are painful for the suburbs.  A lack of buyers leaving NYC coupled with an incredible number of rentals in the planning stages, and already under construction will make things  even more painful for areas on the other side of the Hudson River.

All these new rental projects in Jersey City, Hoboken, Edgewater and Fort Lee, and in NYC will have a devastating effect on suburban home sales.

Looking ahead, if the suburbs don’t learn real fast how to compete for buyers, then they’ll start failing.  And it will happen fast:

  • Downtown’s are already failing
  • taxes are rising and home prices aren’t
  • the market above $1 million is hurting
  • Very few single family homes are being built
  • The suburban office market isn’t recovering

These aren’t good signs. And there’s nothing pointing to things getting any better in the future.

More on this later.

Check out the Kiefer Sutherland article…Big Ticket: Sold for $17.5 million

Also check out…New York By Gehry

Cresskill home sales report 2012

Like every town in Bergen County, home sales in Cresskill have taken a beating over the past five years.  Once known as an oasis for new home luxury sales in developments like Tammybrook and Tamcrest Estates, the luxury end of the market still can’t find it’s way out of the basement.

Cresskill, New Jersey 2012 home sales stats

The reality is, even though home sales in Cresskill are down 11% in 2012, that’s really not all that bad considering there’s only a smattering of sales at the upper end of the market.

The dollar volume of sales are down a mere 6%…but the average sales price in Cresskill increased by 6%.  And that’s not so bad considering that there have only been eigh homes sold in 2012 priced above $1 million.

  • 6 home sales priced $1.0M – $2.0M
  • 2 homes sold $3.0M – $4.0M
  • 39 homes sold  under $1.oM
    …interestingly half of the homes sold below $1.oM were priced BELOW $400K

Over the next few posts, I’ll start comparing home sales from Tenafly, Cresskill, Closter, Haworth and Alpine…then we’ll get a clearer picture as to what’s really happening in the marketplace.

As usual, let us know what you think.

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.

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

Owner of multimillion dollar estate, for sale by owner

For Sale by Owner, a Multimillion-Dollar Mountain Estate…New York Times

This is a wonderful article  article in the New York Times by Paul Sullivan, that describes the efforts being taken by a successful businessman to sell his wonderfully designed 10,000+sf ultra luxury home (Sagee Manor) Highlands NC. without using a broker.

Sagee Manor is a full-blown estate — a 10,000-square-foot mansion with a 2,500-square-foot guesthouse sitting on a mountain top in Highlands, N.C., a resort town. It is surrounded by professionally designed gardens. The asking price was $18 million to $25 million, depending on how many acres the buyer wanted.

As Paul Sullivan points out, this is no ordinary home.  It’s a true masterpiece.

Visit Sagee Manor

The article points out the lengths to which Mr Bob Fisher (owner) has gone to market his home without a listing agent, is quite amazing. Brokers will surely say that without using them this magnificent home won’t sell, or it will take longer to sell…but I don’t agree with that assessment especially with this home.

The only thing that a broker could do that Mr Fisher hasn’t done, is to list the home on their site and the local mls.  If it’s a local brokerage then their reach is local and maybe regional at best…and who’s to say how many hits a local brokerage gets for a home in this price range.  And even if the brokerage is part of a national or “global” franchise, how many people can they reach in this price range around the world. The idea that millions of buyers all around the world can see your home is more hype than reality.
Millions of buyers will never see this listing, and never talk to an agent about it.

A listing, is a listing.  But a listing is not marketing

Mr. Fisher built a web site for the home, that has amazing pictures and videos, and he’s “worked” his network, and has also worked hard to create new networks to spread the word…and to appeal to a Realtors weak spot…money!  What firm will go this far top market a home, even knowing that if they sell the home their potential commissions are enormous ($$750,000 @ $15,000,000)? None of them will go this far and further.

The reality is, this home could take 3-5 years to sell…even in good times.

Here in Alpine New Jersey which has been touted by Forbes to being one of the most expensive zip codes in the country…some home in the 8 figure range have been on the market for up to 5 years.  And we have one mega ultra luxury home that was listed at $56 million…but was just taken off the market.  And this home has been on the market for about 3 years, but was only completed about a year ago.  How many years will this home take to sell…and it’s not even the most expensive home in Alpine.

Ask Donald Trump how long it took him to sell the $100+ million home he built in Florida…I think it took almost 5 years to sell.
The buyer pool is incredibly  small for $18-25million homes in their local region.  And when you extend your marketing nationally and internationally, which you need to do for these mega expensive luxury homes, your ability to attract a buyer becomes a daunting task. Mr. Fisher has obviously learned that paying a sales commission isn’t worth his cost if all he’s getting is  the same basic sales tools that everyone else gets (lawn sign, free web listing and a brochure).  This is just isn’t enough to warrant such a large fee.

They need to do more, but typical brokerage isn’t set up to do more.

Though it hasn’t worked as of yet, Mr. Fisher has done more marketing than any Realtor would consider doing … he has spent a tremendous amount of money on print advertising, personal networking and to build a high quality website that shows a tremendous number of HD photos and some of the finest videos ever produced for a home sale. The brokerage business model isn’t set up for this type of work…they simply gravitate towards the easier sale, as most companies do. The hard sell homes remain on the higher branches and become tough sales.

Real estate is local and brokerages have been able to get away in the past, with classified ad listings and free web listing because most buyers are already living within the general vicinity of the homes for sale.  Such is not the case in a market where there are very few buyers in this price range, and those who are in the market probably live hundreds or thousands of miles away, and possibly in another country.

It’s extremely hard to grab a buyers attention

I had done some strategic consulting work for a builder who was building a project of some very ultra expensive custom homes ranging up to $50+ million.  And when I came on board with them, they had the same exact problem that Mr Fisher is facing at Sagee Manor.  How can we target our marketing so that we get in front of a potential buyer.

It’s all about marketing.

At the time this developer was listing their homes with a local brokerage firm that has an international presence. But this approach wasn’t working, so the developer turned to me to develop a way to reach out to a specific niche market…to those who could afford to purchase such an expensive  home. He asked me how to find a needle in a humongous haystack.

The first thing I did was to talk to the head of marketing for the national franchise.  I asked him a simple but important question…”what are you specifically going to do for us in the way of marketing, (beyond listing this home on your website),  so it gets the exposure that will be needed to sell this home”.

All he said was that they would list it on the web, and it would be seen by all of their affiliate across the globe. That was all he would offer.

To get a better feel for how this was going to work, or if it was going to work,  I called numerous affiliates in London, several in Russia and Singapore, Japan, Argentina, Palm Beach, and Beverly Hills.  And by the third call, I saw just how hard this sale was going to be. But in all fairness, this is an industry wide problem for every ultra luxury homeowner. The system doesn’t work in their favor…thus, there’s a need to do more than the basics,  And that’s where everything becomes extremely complicated,

Mr Fisher obviously realized that he needed much more than anyone could offer him…so he’s doing just that. And he’s is the perfect spokesman for his marketing.  He a soft spoken and seemingly nice person.

Watching his videos made me feel like I’ve known him my entire life, and he personalizes his home like no one else could ever do.

Go for it Mr Fisher!  You’re headed in the right direction, and with a few adjustments to your approach, your home will sell.  When I don’t know, but no one else does either.  However, at some point though you should consider working out a deal to use one of the large brokerages., who will hopefully come through for you. You’ll know when the time is right.

Cedar Grove home hits the market at $17.9M reports that a $17.5 million home in Cedar Grove was recently listed (relisted) by Halstead Properties

Article…The other side of Cedar Grove: Home hits the market at $17.9M

Just you basic run of the mill 24,000sf mega ultra luxury home, in a town not noted for such grand structures

Don’t own one? No problem.

That is, if you can afford the $17.9 million asking price for Elita Kane’s chateau at 50 Laura Drive. takes a snide swipe at the asking price because the town assessed the value much lower than the asking price

According to the Cedar Grove Tax Assessor’s Office, the property is assessed at $2,778,700 – over $15 million less than Kane’s asking price. (The land is assessed at $462,900; the improvements, $2,315,800.) The annual property tax bill for 2011 was just over $54,000.

One has nothing to do with the other.  Just the mere fact that a 24,000sf home can’t possibly be replaced for this cost, should make you wonder why the town assessed it for such a low number.  But regardless, where can you find a home those size with property taxes at $54,000.  MAybe the tax assessor will have another look at this figure since pointed it out.

Wish there were more pictures to see, and why isn’t one of the pictures of the exterior?  Ahhhh, it’s because they want you to see more pictures on their facebook page, which makes you become a follower (a lead)…and they even have the nerve to put the pictures up for sale.  So how many photo T-shirts will they sell with a picture of this terrace on it.  My guess is zero.

Who would seek these homes in a town not known for such commodities?

“A high profile client,” Laurita answered, adding that the Laura Drive home could be on the market for up to a year. One famous actress-singer has shown interest in it, as have international investors from Beijing, Brazil and especially – California. Most of the interested clients are married couples sans children, he said. In order to make an appointment to see the chateau, one has to provide supporting documents of the requisite income.

The broker mentioned that it’s not unusual for a home in this price range to remain on the market for one year. Sorry, but 4+ years is more like it.

Many interested shoppers are also looking at properties in the affluent suburb of Alpine, Laurita said, noting that Kane’s asking price is ballpark to the prices of similar real estate in Alpine.

The commute to New York City is better from Cedar Grove than from Alpine, though, Kane’s nephew chimed in. He also noted that while Alpine homes boost mountain views, the Kane chateau offers views of both the mountains and city. He watches the famous Macy’s fireworks from the chateau terraces annually

Just a hint about the Alpine market, which has been on a respirator for the past 4 years.  If they want to compare this home to the homes for sale in Alpine, New Jersey, then they’ll need a large bottle of anti-depressants, because there’s nothing happening in Alpine.

And since when is it easier to get from Cedar Grove to Manhattan, than it is from Alpine to Manhattan?  Now they’re really dreaming

Let us know what you think



Great News…Tenafly home sales increase 36% in July

The housing market in Tenafly regained its sparkle in July with a 36% jump in sales over July 2011

Monthly breakdown: Tenafly home sales

And what’s even better is that this happened one month after a heartbreaking 24% decline in home sales in Jen 2012

An 8% decrease in the dollar volume of  homes sold wasn’t unexpected, because for those of us who have been following the trends in Tenafly, the luxury home niche has tailed off in 2012.

Along with the decrease in dollar volume sales, the average sales price decreased by $99,514…a 10% to $888,079

Up next is a breakdown of Tenafly home sales at various price points.  You’ll be surprised at the stats.

Before you consider buying your dream home, or selling the home you put so muck. love and money into, tt’s important to understand all of the sales stats for the local markets. And the only place to get this valuable information is on EatingRealEstate.  It’s everything you need to know, minus the sales spin.  We let the real facts speak for themselves.