1988 - 1989
Condominium Conversion Days:
Cleary Fitzgerald Mansion - Holyoke, Massachusetts
In 1987, Leslie purchased an enormous six thousand square foot Queen Anne Victorian mansion in the Highlands area of Holyoke. With wonderful towers, tiled fireplaces, ornate tin ceilings and gorgeous woodwork, the home had been owned by several prominent Holyoke families for over the last 100 years. The building was too large to be maintained as a single family, and although architecturally preserved, it was in need of enormous amounts of work.
Leslie had the building rezoned as six condominium units, and then spent $200,000 restoring the fine woodwork and tin ceilings, rebuilding porches and installing new bathrooms and kitchens.
The project was completed within a year with total sales of $510,000. Because of the scope of the restoration, and the inherent beauty of the building, the project was written up in the real estate section of the New York Times.
Advice I Now Share With Clients
We did very well on this project --- the market was good and there was a demand of this kind of unique condominium housing. I did, however, learn an important lesson about establishing value. On a fluke, we sold the first unit for $95,000. I then hung on for six more months trying to get the same price for the remaining units despite the fact that the my real estate broker and all the prospective buyers wanted to pay in the $70,000’s. I finally took in the message, priced them at $79,900 and sold all five within a month.
When I was s a real estate broker, I'm sometimes on the other side of the fence giving my sellers the same message: "You're overpriced! Listen to what these buyers are telling you and drop your asking price!" But I try to remember what I myself felt like when I was hearing that --- I was stubborn for far too long!
IN THE PRESS
The New York Times