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Philadelphia Business Journal Interviews Gary About Historic Homes

September 1st, 2012 by Gary Gestson

The Dolobran Estate.

Historic Main Line estate Dolobran to be auctioned off
Premium content from Philadelphia Business Journal by Natalie Kostelni, Reporter
Date: Friday, August 31, 2012, 6:00am EDT

HAVERFORD — For 22 years, Amy Nislow made her home at the historic Dolobran Estate off Laurel Lane here, tending to the 19-room Frank Furness-designed structure and raising her four children.
Now with the kids all grown and living in different parts of the country, Nislow decided two years ago to sell the house at 231 Laurel Lane for $3.9 million. Though Nislow came close to unloading the house, it never sold and is now up for auction.
Robin Gordon of Prudential Fox & Roach has the listing and decided an auction would give some certainty that a sale would take place. Anyone interested must conduct any due diligence, such as completing a home inspection and arranging financing, before the auction on Oct. 6, which helps get over some of the biggest hurdles affecting the sale of some homes in this difficult housing market.
The suggested opening bid for the house is $750,000 and a $30,000 deposit is required. An adjacent one-acre lot is also up for sale and will be auctioned separately.
“So far, we have had tremendous interest,” said Gordon, though some seem like they are looking at the house more as a curiosity than for a sincere interest.
In what initially looks like a last-ditch move to get a house sold, it’s not unusual for homes such as Dolobran to come up for auction.

“When we think of an auction in real estate, we think it’s distressed,” said Gary Geston, a historic home specialist with Long & Foster Realtors in Maryland. “It’s not that way at all with historic homes. It’s like auctioning a piece of art. It’s hard to establish price. There are four factors: price, condition, location and historical significance. That is very hard to monetize and an auction will help determine that.”

Just shy of 17,000 square feet, Dolobran was designed by Furness beginning in 1881 for Clement A. Griscom, a shipbuilder who operated American Steamship Co. and the Red Star Line. The design is Victorian Gothic revival and includes ornate brick chimneys, irreplaceable millwork and original fireplaces that standout as Furness trademarks. Dolobran is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The house includes such details as a Delft tiled fireplace, an architecturally significant staircase, a solarium done in a Moroccan motif, as well as original roof and window treatments.
“It’s a rare kind of buyer who appreciates this type of architecture,” said Michael Gordon, who teams up with his wife Robin to help market homes along the Main Line. “It’s a smaller market than those looking to buy a new house.”

“You are buying a continuum of history,” Gestson said. “Most people who are in this niche see it as an experience. They are buying a lot of intangibles like a work of art.”
These buyers, for example, get excited about moldings and nine-over-nine window panes that may have names from a bygone era etched in them.
The market for historic homes is narrow and it doesn’t suffer from the fluctuations an investor or new home market may experience. Most people who buy historic homes pay the mortgage down and, in general, live in them for 15 to 25 years.

While an individual is a likely buyer for the house, the structure also has the potential to be converted into a bed-and-breakfast or even offices. The undeveloped lot is zoned residential for a single-family dwelling.
While overall in good condition, Dolobran could use some updating, Gordon said. For example, the kitchen was renovated 20 years ago and not every part of the house is air conditioned.
“I like the detail, the beautiful carvings and history,” Nislow said. “The house is so interesting and it’s a fantastic location but I really want to move on with my plans, and having a date that it will sell.”
Real Estate, Economic Development

Natalie Kostelni, Staff Writer
Philadelphia Business Journal

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Pricing your home to sell

August 29th, 2012 by Gary Gestson

This morning there is a great article on pricing and over pricing a home in the Washingotn Post by Paul Valentino.

Pricing your home to sell

By Paul Valentino

Paul Valentino is the president of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate in the Greater Washington area and a 30-year real estate veteran. Below, he shares three keys that will help increase the chances of selling your home.

Price your home by comparing what houses in your neighborhood sold for, not what your neighbors are asking:

Too many times, sellers are determined to price their home while looking at the competition/neighbors. But what sellers fail to realize is their competition/neighbors may be completely over-priced. It happens all of the time. Sellers look at their neighbor’s house, which is priced at, for example, $300,000, and says, “Well … my house is much nicer than theirs, so I’m going to ask $320,000.” However if the neighbor’s home has been on the market for 45, 60, or maybe even 90 days at that price, the seller is going to be in the same position 45, 60, 90 days down the road. By focusing on the asking prices of homes in the area, it is extremely easy to over-price a home, which immediately misses the crucially important first two-weeks on the market when buyers’ interest is keenest.

the article

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Bachelor’s Hope Featured in THE WEEK Magazine!

March 19th, 2012 by Gary Gestson

We love THE WEEK Magazine because this powerful marketing venue with its 738,000 subscribers worldwide has again featured one of our Historic Estates in its “Best Properties On The Market” section - BACHELOR’S HOPE c.1668, once owned by Lord Baltimore!
Bachelor's Hope

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