Real Estate Porn

Note: Regular readers will recognize this submissoin. We got a very good response last time, both domestically and abroad, and real estate professionals recommended continued exposure.

Rest assured that this is NOT crowding out other posts! And for those new to it, enjoy!

In a departure from our usual programming, I thought I would introduce a real estate opportunity (yes this is an ad of sorts). But as you can see, it is particularly attractive and also presents an interesting case example of the issues involving the marketing of unique and illiquid assets.

The asset in question is a private lake roughly an hour and forty-five minute drive from Manhattan. The property is 47 acres, and the lake itself is 9 acres.

Broker hype aside, this is an exceptional property. It’s gorgeous. It’s also unusual topographically, a mini Mohonk. The teardrop shaped lake is situated below schist and granite cliffs that rise on almost all sides to an elevation of 100-150 feet, surrounding nearly the entire property. Visitors have called it a “pocket universe.” You’d need to considerably more land to get the same degree of privacy.

The lake is stream and spring fed, and has a strong enough current that it once operated the most reliable mill in the area and fed George Washington’s troops. If you know anything about lakes, this is a big deal. Many so called lakes are glorified ponds. This one is active, with seven varieties of fish.

The property currently has two houses, both in impeccible shape, one the Lake House, with two decks cantilevered over the water, the other the Admiral’s Cabin, a guest house recently built in fine materials (example: mahogany beadboard). It also has an Airstream trailer (top of the line). There are at least two possible locations for the construction of a very large house, one the site of a former hotel, the other a meadow at lake level.

The owner has also gone to considerable lengths to improve the land. He has put in a mile long road around the lake, cleared underbrush, removed dead trees. These are all things that require more time and expense than one might expect.

Many buyers would treat this as a turnkey situation. Everything has been maintained at a very high level and as many as eight people can stay in high style. Alternatively, a very wealthy buyer might choose to use the existing buildings on an interim basis while building a grand estate, and the current buildings would then become guest houses.

The region (the west side of the Hudson) is oddly underpriced. It’s probably the lowest cost area that is an easy drive to Manhattan and yet has good services. It’s attracting people who want a lower-key, less hassled alternative to the Hamptons. Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt, and Meryl Streep all have vacation homes within a half hour drive of the lake. Steve Case’s company Canopy Development recently bought lakefront property on a different lake in the same town and is building a high end resort and gated community. Case vacation developments are high-end time shares and sell for an average value of $3 million.

Now the marketing issues. Local brokers make their money selling low end houses to locals. Although people like De Niro and Pitt parachute in from the blue, they don’t know how to access them. Conversely, brokers in Mahnattan who have the right clientele can’t be bothered to dabble in vacation homes (except perhaps in the Hamptons). Therefore the owner is showing it himself.

The owner had started a program to get the lake in front of wealthy Wall Street types, but with the credit crunch, it’s harder to find who has been on the winning side of trades (it’s easier to identify the cohort that has been losing out, like private equity types and quants). But there is clearly a subset in the financial community that is still prospering.

Other prospects are wealthy individuals who are either not affected by the turmoil in the markets, such as top athletes and entertainers and foreign ibuyers. Managers for those individuals might also take an interest.

You can find further information about the property here, which includes photos of the buildings and more detail about the surrounding area, and there is also a print brochure available. If you have any questions, ideas. or best of all, suggestions for people who might be interested, please e-mail the manager for the owner.

The owner may also be willing to consider renting the property during the spring and summer.

Thanks again. And no, this isn’t my property. I’m a die hard city person.

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