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Designer Ally Coulter lists Greenwich home for $3.98M



Designer Ally Coulter lists Greenwich home for $3.98M

Interior designer Ally Coulter has put her Greenwich, Conn., home on the market for $3.98 million.

The 19th-century, five-bedroom home at 55 Byram Shore Road was renovated by Coulter, the former creative director for Fendi Casa.

Built in 1896, the 4,700-square-foot home opens to a large foyer with 20-foot ceilings and a gallery with nine original stained-glass windows.

There’s also a library with a fireplace overlooking Greenwich Harbor, a formal dining room with water views, a chef’s kitchen, a third-floor “reading annex,” a gym and a main bedroom suite with a fireplace overlooking Long Island Sound and Huckleberry Island.

The listing broker is Robin Kencel, of Compass.

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Real Estate

A $23-Million View Of Paradise Above Hawaii’s Hanalei Bay



mountain and ocean view swimming pool from hanalei bay luxury home 5121 Hanalei Plantation

Picturesque Hanalei Bay is known for its seascape.

Sand, waves and mountains meet to create views from Princeville, on the north shore of the Hawaii island of Kauai, that add an intrinsic value to the bluff homes there.

Proof of this is evident at 5121 Hanalei Plantation Road, which provides a panoramic window on this island paradise, framing vistas that change with the time of day, weather and season.

Apropos of the street name and a location with a sugarcane farming history, the 2006 contemporary takes its design cues from Hawaii plantation architecture. The most distinguishable feature of this style is the wide-hipped roof, which has a more gradual pitch than a gabled roof and gives the home a low-profile appearance in keeping with its natural surroundings.

The design surprise is the central outdoor living room, which serves as the focal point for the three sections of the house. The open-air space includes greenery, a dining area, a lounge and an outdoor kitchen with a barbecue. A transparent roof retracts to shelter the room when needed.

Vaulted ceilings cap the 8,173 square feet of indoor space. Their wooden surfaces draw the eye upward, while multiple fireplaces enhance the warm ambiance created by the extensive use of wood.

Natural stone and walls of glass are used throughout the three-structure residence.

The major portion of the house contains an indoor living room, a formal dining room and a center-island kitchen with dual ranges and sinks. Including the den and gym on the lower level, the main structure accounts for nearly 3,800 square feet of the living space.

The separate, primary bedroom suite of about 1,275 square feet has a study, a stand-alone soaking tub and access to a private garden with an outdoor shower.

Two en-suite guestrooms make up the third building for a total of four bedrooms, four full bathrooms and a powder room in all.

Deep eaves create a transition from the interiors to additional outdoor living spaces, including a triangular-shaped balcony with glass railings.

Stone patios and wooden terraces ring one side of the saltwater infinity pool. A waterfall spa is set at an angle within the mirror-like swimming pool.

The nearly one-acre gated property is listed for $22.75 million with Ben Welborn and Neal Norman of Hawai’i Life.

Hawai’i Life is an exclusive member of Forbes Global Properties, a consumer marketplace and membership network of elite brokerages selling the world’s most luxurious homes.

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Real Estate

Retail Sales Fell In May. So What?



Shoppers in the early evening at the Ala Moana Center in Honolulu

Retail sales fell 1.3% in May. Should we worry that consumers are running out of steam as the boost from stimulus checks received earlier this spring fades? An unexpected slowing of consumer spending could have negative implications for the economic recovery, as well as for the embattled retail commercial property sector and retail REITs.

A brief look at recent history dispels these fears. Retail sales in May were still elevated; in fact, even after the decline in last month, spending was 10.9% above the pre-pandemic trend, not far from the 12.8% by which retail sales exceeded trend in April.

How are brick & mortar sales holding up in recent months, following the surge in e-commerce sales during the pandemic? In-store sales had been facing stiff competition from the growing online channel for several years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, weakening conditions in the retail property markets and impacting retail REITs (note: I am senior economist at Nareit, the worldwide voice for REITs and listed investments in real estate).

The e-commerce share of retail sales (excluding food service, motor vehicles, and gasoline) jumped in April 2020 to 24.8%, from 18.3% just prior to the pandemic. Since then, however, the e-commerce share has drifted lower, and in May was 1.3 percentage points above its trend growth.

The high level of total retail sales and the moderation of the e-commerce share has resulted in brick & mortar sales in May that were 11.1% above recent trends. As vaccination rates rise and the risk of exposures to COVID-19 decrease, more and more shoppers are returning to the stores and malls. Brick & mortar sales are likely to return to the pre-pandemic trend as the boost from stimulus checks runs its course, but robust job growth and rising household incomes are expected to sustain the spending trend.

That’s good news for the economy, for retail commercial real estate, and for retail REITs.

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Real Estate

Home Price Surge – Boom Or Blip?



American Suburban Houses

In the past year, home prices rose 10 percent in Tampa, 12 percent in Salt Lake City and 18 percent in Boise.

That’s not supposed to happen during a recession. In the first year of the previous recession – in 2008 – the only big market with a gain in prices was Houston, where they rose 3 percent.

Some analysts (me) thought prices in 2020 and 2021 would rise only slightly because of the great uncertainty about people’s financial future.

So, what’s happening? And of more importance, what should we now expect over the next year? Will prices continue to rocket upwards? Must you make an investment right now, before it’s priced out of reach?

To get some perspective, let’s examine plausible reasons why home prices could rise so much at this particular time, with the US economy still in the red.

The California Effect. We’ve seen this before: after a long period of prosperity and a run-up in home prices, the California economy goes into a slump and people leave the state. They go to Portland, Boise, Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Albuquerque and Texas; and they go with a big chunk of home equity in their pocket. So when they get to Boise they think nothing of paying half-a-million dollars for a home.

Pre-Pandemic Growth. Before the pandemic a dozen big markets added jobs to their economy at a rate of more than three percent a year, including Boise, Austin, Phoenix, Dallas, Raleigh and Salt Lake City. Even a pause in growth doesn’t catch up with such high demand for housing.

Ultra-Low Interest Rates. Mortgage rates under three percent not only encourage home buying – they virtually demand that investors consider buying property – whether a rental, a second home or just a house sitting empty for a while – because the returns on similarly-safe investments like bonds or CDs are close to zero.

Pandemic Effects. It’s unjust, but lower-paid workers have been hit harder by job losses than those with higher pay and greater wealth – those who can afford to buy homes. Also, the pandemic has encouraged people to re-locate out of crowded city centers. On the other hand, a lot of people who might ordinarily have moved – Americans usually do – decided to hunker down and stay put; so there have been fewer homes to buy.

That this last phenomenon plays a bigger role right now is hinted at by the big price hikes in such unlikely places as Buffalo, New Haven and Allentown, where jobs and population have stagnated for years. Typically about 5 percent of the homes in a market are sold every year, not a lot; so even weak demand will quickly jack up prices if nobody wants to sell.

That doesn’t explain higher prices in Boise but it does allow us to predict where prices will probably keep going higher, and where the recent sharp increases are temporary.

If limited supply has been a major factor in higher prices, what will happen as the pandemic recedes and ‘normal’ behavior returns? Yes, more supply but also more demand. I’m guessing that the normal balance between supply and demand also returns when it’s not just well-off people driving demand. Boom markets will go higher, blip markets will level out. (Yes, I know, I was wrong about 2020…)

Our table shows 20 markets where home prices were at least 9 percent higher in the past year. Based on recent population growth I’ve classified them as booms, where prices will keep rising briskly in the next year – or blips, where prices may still increase but much more moderately. And some markets are in-between.

Just a last word about the boom markets: Boise is already dangerously over-priced, at some point a bust will follow. Phoenix and Tampa aren’t that risky yet but could be soon.

The important advice for investors in boom markets is that they should not factor expected equity gains into their return calculations; be sure the income stream from rents provides the return you need. If it doesn’t, you’re speculating more than you probably want to.

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