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Wall Street Journal - Fieldstone Group & Douglas Elliman

Douglas Elliman Pushes Into Connecticut Residential Market

It's leasing a high-profile Greenwich office and recruiting from competitors

The Fieldstone Group team that recently joined Douglas Elliman. From left, Scott Elwell, Beverley Toepke, Lyn Stevens and Robin Kencel.ENLARGE
The Fieldstone Group team that recently joined Douglas Elliman. From left, Scott Elwell, Beverley Toepke, Lyn Stevens and Robin Kencel. PHOTO: ANDREW FRENCH

Douglas Elliman Real Estate is trying to muscle its way into the Connecticut residential brokerage market by opening a high-profile office in Greenwich and recruiting big-name producers from competitors.

The firm, which has been on a national expansion binge in the past three years, has leased a 5,000-square-foot office with 50 desks across from Greenwich Town Hall. It also has recruited more than 30 brokers, including a four-person team from Sotheby's International Realty named the Fieldstone Group, which last year sold properties totaling more than $100 million.

Howard Lorber, chairman of Douglas Elliman, says the affluent Greenwich market is an obvious target for his firm, which also has opened offices in south Florida, Aspen and Los Angeles. "Greenwich is one of those high-end markets where people travel," he said. "It's all the same customer."

The opening comes as the Greenwich residential sales market continues to recover from the downturn. It's not as strong as the New York market, especially in the $4 million-to-$8 million range, brokers say. But the market for properties for $3 million and less is active, brokers say.

According to Sotheby's, there have been 176 closings below $3 million so far this year, compared with 134 during the same time in 2014. The median sales price in 2014 was $1.84 million, according to Douglas Elliman.

But the Greenwich brokerage market also has produced stiff competition among firms lately. There have been several new entrants to the market and some brokerages have consolidated. A few firms that have tried to make it in the region have closed their doors, according to David Haffenreffer, Houlihan Lawrence's branch manager in Greenwich.

"I don't think putting a flag down in Greenwich will guarantee success," he said. "It's a matter of understanding the marketplace and having a company that can help drive results."

Mr. Lorber and Dottie Herman, Douglas Elliman's chief executive, have been driving results higher ever since their improbable acquisition of the storied New York firm in 2003. Before they took over, Douglas Elliman had gone through a series of owners stretching back to its founding in 1911.

Mr. Lorber and Ms. Herman came into the picture when they co-owned a Long Island brokerage named Prudential Long Island Realty, a franchisee of Prudential Financial Inc.'s real-estate business. Interested in expanding, they set their sights on Douglas Elliman, which at the time was part of a real-estate empire controlled by New York mogul Andrew Farkus.

In an interview last week, Mr. Lorber recalled that he and Ms. Herman made their move after he figured out that Mr. Farkus was planning to sell the company to someone else. Fortunately for them, that deal was facing antitrust issues.

"We didn't have antitrust issues," Mr. Lorber said. "So I said, 'Look, whatever deal you made with them, I'll buy it from you for the same price.' "

Mr. Lorber and Ms. Herman wanted to keep expanding their business but for years ran into problems because of their franchise agreement with Prudential. Many of the areas they wanted to add offices in already had franchisees, he said. "They wouldn't let us expand where we wanted to expand," he said.

Their franchise agreement with Prudential ended in 2012. Since then Douglas Elliman has been steadily adding offices and boosting sales.

Douglas Elliman's future Greenwich office.ENLARGE
Douglas Elliman's future Greenwich office. PHOTO: ROBIN KENCEL

The firm currently has 5,500 brokers in the U.S., and last year sold real estate worth $18 billion while expanding its reach globally by forming an alliance with Knight Frank Residential of London.

Mr. Lorber said the timing of the Greenwich opening depended in large part on finding the right people. Last year, the firm hired Roberto Vannucchi, formerly a Sotheby's director of sales.

Mr. Vannucchi has been recruiting heavily in the region. Most recently he hired the Fieldstone Group, which has worked on such deals as last year's sale by film director Ron Howard of his home in Armonk, N.Y., for $27.5 million.

Robin Kencel, one of the Fieldstone members, said the team has more than $75 million in listings and is moving partly because of Douglas Elliman's strength in the New York market, a "critical feeder" to Greenwich. She said they also liked the firm's willingness to "try different avenues" to sell property, which is especially important with homes that don't sell quickly and "need a new approach."

The other members of the team are Lyn Stevens, Beverley Toepkeand Scott Elwell. Douglas Elliman "is going to shake things up," Ms. Kencel said.

Mr. Lorber said that Douglas Elliman is still in expansion mode. "We'll probably add another Connecticut office and probably a couple more in California," he said. "Maybe we'll go to a couple of other places."

Write to Peter Grant at peter.grant@wsj.com

- See more at: http://blog.greenwichct.com/2015/07/07/fieldstone-has-moved-to-douglas-elliman-wsj-article/#sthash.Jln8qCp7.dpuf

4 Cove Ridge Lane, Old Greenwich, CT - Unique Waterfront

OLD GREENWICH | 4 Cove Ridge Lane | $4,500,000

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OLD GREENWICH | 4 Cove Ridge Lane | $4,500,000

Enjoy magnificent panoramic views of Old Greenwich Cove and Long Island Sound from this superbly crafted waterfront Arts & Crafts Shingle style home. This architectural masterpiece with endless water vistas, designed by the owner with architect Louise Broadman and landscape architect, Honey Straight, was built in 1992 and renovated in 2013. Designed for maximum enjoyment of its waterfront setting, the open layout is enhanced with custom floor-to-ceiling teak windows to capture splendid views of the cove and gardens. Filled with stunning architectural details such as striking custom tile floors designed by American Craft Museum artists, unique auction house Art Deco stained glass windows, hand carved slate fireplaces and mahogany doors. The sublime interior features four bedrooms, including a first floor master suite with separate his-and-her baths and an office. The chef's kitchen has custom designed with cabinets made from solid cherry, oak, birch, and maple wood to represent sunlight and clouds in the sky. With an open floor plan perfect for entertaining, this stunning four bedroom, four and one half-bath home is situated on a tranquil, shoreline lane within walking distance to town, schools and train station.

The Property

Perched on a hill on a quiet cul-de-sac, two large slate patios with professionally landscaped gardens overlook the 150 feet of waterfront land, which includes a boat dock with aluminum ramp. Two separate lots combine to 0.74 acres of waterfront property on this peaceful lane. Punctuated with ornamental trees, perennial gardens and specimen flowering shrubs, the private fenced back yard is sheltered by tall, mature trees.

First Floor

A two-story entry hall leads to a sun-filled Great Room. Floor to ceiling windows provide stunning water views from all rooms. Leading from the great room, the family room and dining room with fireplaces, and an intimate sitting area. Maple flooring with ebony inlay extends throughout the main floor. The gourmet center-isle kitchen with marble counter tops features custom designed cabinetry. The master suite offers water views, separate his-and-her dressing areas and a luxurious master bath, an office/bedroom with separate bath and a sunny solarium. A powder room, laundry room and a mudroom, which lead to the attached two-car garage, complete the first floor layout

Second Floor

Approached by a brass and ebony stair railing are two double bedrooms with water views and an additional single bedroom/study, sharing two full baths. Two attics provide ample storage.

Lower Level

Finished tile floored basement with access to the outside and two large storage areas.

Details: 4 Cove Ridge Lane, Old Greenwich, CT 06870

MLS#: 92808    CMLS#: 99091823

Built: 1992 | Renovated: 2013 | Type: Single Family | Bedrooms: 4 | Full Baths: 4| Half Baths: 1 | Interior: 4,990 | Exterior: 0.94 Acres | Garage: 2 Car

Additional Features: Additional 936 square feet finished playroom in lower level.

Click here to view slideshow.

Click here to view property information on Sotheby's International Realty.

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FS LogoFieldstone Group of Sotheby 's International Realty Stevens | Toepke | Kencel | Elwell One Pickwick Plaza, Greenwich, CT 06830 Mobile: 203.618.3188 | Fax: 203.930.2808

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Greenwich Historical Society's Landmark Recognition 2014 Awardees Event

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 8.05.31 AMThe 2014 prestigious Landmark Recognition Program will be plaquing five homes and structures in Greenwich that exhibit remarkable architectural design and significance.  Included among them are the last remaining Gentleman's Farm in Greenwich, an extraordinary estate in back country once owned by the Hirschorns and now owned by Tommy and Dee Hilfiger, the Greenwich post office, the Riverside Avenue Bridge and an Italianate home in the Cos Cob historic district of Mead Ave.

This year's speaker is quite special:   the CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Stephanie Meeks.   Come see some of the rich architectural gems within Greenwich and hear Stephanie speak about preservation-- looking forward. Tickets may be obtained through the Greenwich Historical Society at www.greenwichhistory.org.

 

Summer Safety Program for Kindergartens Held By the American Red Cross

79ec53fd5b5b0ac9e3657c2d44f63eb1This June, The American Red Cross will again be offering their summer comprehensive safety education program called Safety Town for Greenwich children entering Kindergarten. Topics covered in their Safety Town program include automobile, pedestrian, fire, bike, gun, animal, playground and water safety along with information about medicines and poisons. They also will discuss traveling on trains and buses and stranger awareness.

Safety Town is conducted under the guidance of classroom teachers, police officers, firefighters, EMS and other community helpers.

Each child will be fitted and receive their own bike safety helmet. You can register your child at www.mysafetytown.com

Bidding Wars: Or, Why You Should Never Love Something That Can't Return the Feeling

ChessMatchIf you are in the market to buy a new home this spring, you may find yourself with other hopefuls nipping at your heels as you hone in on a property. Certainly if you are looking for a home between $1.5 million and $3 million dollars in Old Greenwich or Riverside you can expect to have some company at the bidding table.

As realtors, we can give you a good sense of history, current trends, and what we have learned in the many hours observing how buyers think, watching how decisions are made and offer numbers arrived at (by the way, the first two of these aren't always accurately reported through the big online real estate sites and the latter isn't something that they can convey). Representing out of town buyers in a multiple bid scenario last week, reminded me once again, that real estate is not always rationale.

The age old, but very effective list of Pros and Cons of a home is a helpful exercise to review the home in a logical way. Ask yourself: At what number would I be comfortable walking away from this house if someone overbids me? The answer to this can keep you from falling into an auction frenzy mentality, as can be the case if multiple offers go to sealed bids or a deadline for submission.

Above all else--and this is the toughest one-- resist falling in love with something that can't love you back.  In the end, a house is just materials.  What makes it a home is you.  And there's more than one place where you can do that.

Nevertheless, losing a bidding war is never pleasant. And hearing "where one door closes another opens", feels like a bad pun when you have just seen the front door that you were hoping to walk through slam shut. Take a breath. Exercise patience. I assure you, there is another house that will find its way to you.

Fifty Shades of Grey and It's Relevance to Greenwich Real Estate

50-Shades-of-Grey-PosterGone are the days when you could simply call your real estate agent to list your home and have it be as simple as a tour with them to review how lights and the alarm system worked. As one client who is days away from completing a re-imagining of their home that included painting the entire first floor rooms, removing curtains, taking away nearly all of their furniture and bringing in a stager, shared, "I love it but you can't believe how much work it's been". For the unveiling of this home, sit tight until March 3rd.

So here's the skinny on listing your home in Greenwich: If you are trying to attract buyers who are young families and particularly young families living or influenced by sophisticated city life such as Manhattan, you need to have them open the door to your home and fall in love with it. And while many folks claim "I can see past the decorating", it's so much easier to catch them at "hello" when the front door is opened.

Creating a feeling often starts with the color palette. 2014 was all about the neutrals-- maybe not 50 grey variations but just about. What colors are going to be popular in home design in 2015?

Like many things, color trends in interior design tend to cycle. Our review of 2015 trends shows that the neutrals will still be a mainstay but color will make a return. And not just any color. Bold colors, including pinks and purples as seen in the new fabrics of China Seas and bedding of Matouk (carried at Lynnens in Greenwich) will be popular along with Mediterranean blues that are reminiscent of the church tops in Santorini. Miles Redd, (a longtime favorite of mine) is always one to watch, and is working in palettes of the 1960s colors. Alessandra Branca, believes that colors inspired by the Renaissance will return.

Are the whites, greys and off-whites gone? Not as long as Restoration Hardware, Johnathan Adler, Mitchell Gold and other major furnishing companies feature them in the their line.

Speaking of color shades, and specifically, Fifty Shades of Grey--the long anticipated movie is now playing at the Greenwich Bow Tie Cinema. On Valentine's Day, you can see it as early as 10:45 a.m. or catch the last show at 9:45 p.m.

Color Forecasting for 2015: Fifty Shades of Grey

50-Shades-of-Grey-PosterGone are the days when you could simply call your real estate agent to list your home and have it be as simple as a tour with them to review how lights and the alarm system worked. As one client getting ready to list their home said to us this week while knee deep decluttering 20 years of home life and considering quite a robust proposal from a stager that includes painting out rooms and staging 13 of them, "This is more than we ever thought about!" It can certainly be overwhelming.

But here's the rub: If you are trying to attract buyers who are young families and particularly young families living or influenced by sophisticated city life such as Manhattan, you need to have them open the door to your home with a sensibility that resonates with them.

Creating a feeling often starts with the color palette. So what colors are going to be popular in home design in 2015? In the past year, we have seen a preponderance of white, ivory, and grey--- all shades. This color combination was established by the the big furniture vendors--Restoration Hardware and their linen look, Mitchell Gold and their white and grey showrooms, Johnathan Adler with his white pottery... the list goes on and on.

Like many things, color trends in interior design tend to cycle. Our review of 2015 trends shows that the neutrals will still be a mainstay but color will make a return. And not just any color. Bold colors, including pinks and purples as seen in the new fabrics of China Seas and bedding of Matouk (carried at Lynnens in Greenwich) will be popular along with Mediterranean blues that are reminiscent of the church tops in Santorini.  Miles Redd, (a longtime favorite of Robin's) is always one to watch, and is working in palettes of the 1960s colors.  Alessandra Branca, believes that colors inspired by the Renaissance will return.

Speaking of color shades, and specifically, Fifty Shades of Grey--the long anticipated movie is now playing at the Greenwich Bow Tie Cinema .  On Valentine's Day, you can see it as early as 10:45 a.m. or catch the last show at 9:45 p.m.

Roofs, Gutters and Snow Damage

IMG_1760Greenwich has seen more  than 14" of snowfall in 2015. The Fieldstone Group has been talking about snow removal, snow safety and protecting your home and property from snow damage. We should have listened to our own advice posted on February 2nd.

We now know firsthand that failing to remove snow from flat roofs and not preparing gutters to avoid ice damming can lead to water entering your home. The only silver lining to this unfortunate experience is that we have solutions to share with you.

Flat roofs:

1.  Shovel.   Really.  The surface of flat rooms are often metal or wood, with a membrane underneath.  If that membrane has a tear, and a large amount of snow is sitting, melting a bit, then sitting, there is a possibility that it can find it's way through a seam into the ceiling of your home.  If water is coming into your home, put heavy contractor grade plastic over the flat roof until the problem can be looked at properly in warmer weather.IMG_1762

2.  Gutter Damming.  Snow melts, gutters back up, and soon there is no way for water to wash off the roof.  As the frozen water begins to melt in the gutters it can also find it's way into the house, working down windows and walls.  Home Depot in Portchester, ten minutes from Greenwich Avenue,  have roof deicing cable kits and roof melt ice.  Amazon has a number of heat cables and deicing products.

 

THE GLOBAL LUXURY RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE REPORT 2015

GAIN ACCESS TO A WEALTH OF INSIGHTS

We are pleased to present the inaugural edition of the Global Luxury Residential Real Estate Report 2015, which identifies the most significant markets for ultra high net worth (UHNW) residential property investment, provides a profile of the global luxury residential property consumers and offers insights into their spending habits relating to their luxury residential property investments.

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Luxury residential real estate holds a special place within the portfolio of the world's ultra wealthy. This report shows that UHNW individuals each own, on average, 2.7 properties. While they may purchase real estate for a variety of reasons - spanning from practical to passion to investment purposes - it represents one of the most intimate asset classes characterizing their wealth. For the purpose of this report, we are using the label "investment" to describe UHNW luxury residential real estate ownership, whether that was their purpose or whether the primary purpose is for their personal and private leisure or living.

The value of UHNW-owned residences globally rose by 8% in the past year, according to the report's UHNW Residential Real Estate Index. As capital continues to flow towards key cities and locations across the globe, and as available land becomes scarcer, such growth in value will continue.

The inaugural Global Luxury Residential Real Estate Report 2015 is the definitive source of data, insights and trends at the intersection between the world's UHNW population and the global luxury residential real estate industry, illuminating the opportunities that these individuals present for this sector.

 

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Fieldstone Group of Sotheby 's International Realty Stevens | Toepke | Kencel | Elwell One Pickwick Plaza, Greenwich, CT 06830