The drama of selling a famous home

When it comes to real estate, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it would a cinch to sell a famous home. Generally speaking, the rich and famous of the world tend to have pretty nice abodes and the property owned by many of these people are the types of homes we aspire to.


Take for example an international property for sale that I came across recently. I’ve mentioned before that I like to peruse the international property market, even if it is just wishful thinking. This place was a Caribbean-style home, light-filled, and in a lovely place, namely Palm Beach in Florida. At first glance, this home looked like it has everything that wealthy buyers covet. It has waterfront, it’s a 10-room estate that boasts 22-foot-high beamed ceilings, terracotta tile floors and a ground floor surrounded by lushly landscaped atriums. Apparently even the price tag, which sits at a cool $8.5 million price tag is reasonable by Palm Beach standards. And then there’s the catch.


The home was owned by notorious Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff. This property was turned over for sale to federal marshals along with two other properties in order to help compensate victims of his $65 billion Ponzi scheme. It seems that as fabulous as a property may be, if there’s scandal attached to it, whether a gruesome murder, high-profile sex scandal or messy tabloid divorces, suddenly it’s not quite so appealing and the real estate agents charged with selling the home say it’s a tough gig.

Real estate professionals will sometimes term this type of home for sale a stigmatised property, and even in the best of market conditions, trying to find a buyer can prove challenging.  In the current climate in the USA in particular the abundance of homes on the market means that these properties can prove even more difficult for realtors. One story in particular made headlines when in a town called Greenwich in Connecticut, a real estate mogul by the name of Andrew Kissel was renting a red brick mansion at the hefty sum of $15,000 per month. Tragically, Andrew was found bound, gagged and stabbed to death inside it in 2006, and its almost needless to say that when the owner tried to sell it post that event, buyers weren’t exactly beating the door down to inspect the home. Again, the property was one that many who could afford it should have liked – the four bedroom home sat on 2.1 acres of lush land on a quiet, tree-lined road, but it hung around on the market for more than a year at a price of $5.2 million. Eventually the owner knocked the whole thing down and replaced the property with a new mansion, but it still failed to sell, even after a $2.3 million price cut. It seems celebrity property may not be that wonderful a game after all!  

Posted by Charles Tarbey on 13/10/2009 at 1:07 PM | Categories:


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