Two suburban houses attract winning bids, barely

Rear view of house on Long Island that received highest bid of just over $1 million at an auction on Sunday.   (Source: Sheldon Good & Co.)

Despite strong early interest, two distinctive suburban properties in separate auctions suffered little competition among bidders on Sunday.

Only two of four registered bidders raised their hands in the auction of a 3,988-sf residence designed by architect Norman Jaffe in the Laurel Hollow village of Oyster Bay on Long Island’s North Shore

At the Mark Hotel on the Upper East Side, the house was gaveled down after receiving a mere three bids — a $1 million minimum opener, then $1.010 million and finally $1.020 million from the first bidder.  The two other bidders sat on their hands for reasons known only to them.

Another view of the Long Island house shown above.

The starkly contemporary Laurel Hollow house, which was constructed in 1991, sits on two acres at 1545 Laurel Hollow Road. It has a gated entry, a drive that winds up to a cobblestone courtyard, and an adjacent one-bedroom guest house framing the entry. There is a swimming pool as well.

According to the Sheldon Good & Co. auction concern, the dwelling was built with state-of-the-art materials and finishes, has been maintained in pristine condition and has benefited from single ownership since it was completed.

As Sheldon Good CEO John J. Cuticelli Jr. told me outside the auction room afterward, any family with children would want to build an addition and improve the landscaping for children.

With a small child and one on the way, he continued, the losing bidder had researched comparable sales and included in his calculations the cost of an addition, various other improvements, clearing some of the land for play areas, the 1 percent mansion tax and a 5 percent buyer’s premium.

The family figured $1 million was enough to pay for the property and refused to budge beyond that $1.010 second bid.

“The market is what the market is,” COO Mark Troen credibly contended.

As for the winner, he disappeared before I could talk to and identify him.  The seller has five days to decide whether to accept the bid.

Because the second sale was at the other property on the block, I didn’t choose to attend, but I inferred from what Troen indicated in a follow-up telephone interview that the result wasn’t much different.

1880 restored Victorian on 2.84 acres 40 miles north of Manhattan in Armonk. (Source: Sheldon Good & Co.)

On a 1770s foundation, the Brundage family built the Victorian house in Armonk starting in the 1880s and expanded it over the years.  In addition to a heated swimming pool and a carriage house, the restored 3,884-sf dwelling features seven bedrooms, four baths, two half baths and four fireplaces on its three levels.

The HVAC, mechanical and electrical systems have been updated, and there is a full security system.

The minimum bid was $899,000 not subject to the seller’s approval.  However, Troen reported that there was a contingency unrelated to price in the offer, thereby giving the seller the opportunity to turn down the offer within five days.

Four registered bidders attended the auction, he added.  But he was reluctant to disclose more details until the seller decides whether to accept the bid.

“The seller wants to feel comfortable, and I want to respect their wishes,” Troen said.

The company extensively publicized the auctions, producing glossy brochures and advertising widely.  As a consequence, hundreds of prospective buyers registered their interest and scores attended open houses, Cuticelli and Troen observed.

But each of the properties was bound to attract only a small segment of the market, the auctioneers reported.

Each needs a lot of work, they conceded.  Moreover, the structure of the Armonk house limits just how much renovation it can withstand and at how great a cost.  (There is no good way to make seven very small bedrooms into seven very large ones.)

You can find more photos of both properties on the Sheldon Good site, and I am left wondering whatever happened to auction fever.

Tomorrow: HELOC hangups

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

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