Rich Chi­nese eye prici­est US home list­ing

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By ZHANG YUWEI in New York yuweizhang@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

At the end of a 1,800-foot cob­ble­stone drive­way in the woods in Green­wich, Con­necti­cut, a Vic­to­rian Frenchre­nais­sance man­sion sits on 50 acres on Long Is­land Sound.

In­clud­ing two off­shore is­lands, Cop­per Beech Farm is listed for sale. Even af­ter a $60 mil­lion price re­duc­tion — in­clud­ing a re­cent $10 mil­lion cut — it still car­ries a $130 mil­lion price tag, mak­ing it the most ex­pen­sive prop­erty list­ing in the United States.

Since it was put on sale in June, the prop­erty has been vis­ited by a num­ber of in­vestors, in­clud­ing sev­eral Chi­nese who have showed in­ter­est.

David Ogilvy, pres­i­dent of David Ogilvy & As­so­ciates and the prop­erty’s list­ing agent, said one group of Chi­nese — fam­i­lies and friends of a Chi­nese busi­ness­man — paid the prop­erty a se­cond visit last year and could be a po­ten­tial buyer.

“I’m sure we have a po­ten­tial Chi­nese buyer; we’ve ac­tu­ally shown it to sev­eral peo­ple who would look to be very in­ter­ested in it,” Ogilvy said.

Among the in­vestors who vis­ited the prop­erty, about half were Amer­i­can, and the rest were for­eign. Half the for­eign­ers were Asian, Ogilvy said.

Built in 1896, the prop­erty was named for the huge cop­per beech trees pop­u­lat­ing it. Be­sides the two off­shore is­lands, the 12-bed­room home has some 4,000 feet of pri­vate frontage on Long Is­land Sound, a car­riage house, a guest cot­tage, two swim­ming pools, two green­houses, a wine cel­lar and a grass ten­nis court.

It has had three own­ers. Har­riet Lauder Green­way— son of Ge­orge Lauder who joined An­drew Carnegie to create US Steel—be­came the prop­erty’s owner in 1904 and lived there for 75 years.

The cur­rent owner is a New York busi­ness­man who uses it as a week­end and sum­mer house with his fam­ily, ac­cord­ing to Ogilvy.

“The fam­ily lived here for the past 35 years very qui­etly so peo­ple have no idea this par­tic­u­lar house and this in­cred­i­ble prop­erty event ex­ist. It’s very sur­pris­ing,” Ogilvy said.

“The buy­ers who have come to look at this prop­erty have a great wish to be on the wa­ter and to have great pri­vacy,”

I’m sure we have a po­ten­tial Chi­nese buyer; we’ve ac­tu­ally shown it to sev­eral peo­ple who would look to be very in­ter­ested in it.” DAVID OGILVY PRES­I­DENT OF DAVID OGILVY & AS­SO­CIATES

Ogilvy said. “Se­cu­rity has be­come in­creas­ingly im­por­tant to many peo­ple around the world today,” he said.

Ogilvy said the prop­erty’s unique­ness is a ma­jor at­trac­tion for in­ter­na­tional buy­ers.

“Peo­ple love ‘unique’ and when they can hon­estly say ‘I have the only 50-acre wa­ter­front prop­erty in Con­necti­cut’, that says some­thing to other peo­ple who are also suc­cess­ful,” Ogilvy said. “They want some­thing no one else has — and that is this prop­erty — and truly no one else has it.”

Green­wich, lo­cated about 45 min­utes north of New York City, has sev­eral of Amer­ica’s most ex­pen­sive ZIP codes — and some of its prici­est prop­erty, ac­cord­ing to a Forbes rank­ing.

Cop­per Beech re­cently be­came neigh­bor to one of the world’s savvi­est in­vestors and one of the eight bil­lion­aires (by Forbes rank­ing) who lives in Green­wich: Ray Dalio, founder of in­vest­ment-man­age­ment firm Bridge­wa­ter As­so­ciates. Six acres of wa­ter­front near Cop­per Beech were pur­chased for $25 mil­lion through a limited li­a­bil­ity com­pany with the same ad­dress as Bridge­wa­ter and man­aged by Bridge­wa­ter’s chief fi­nan­cial coun­sel, lo­cal news site Green­wichtime.com re­ported. The land Bridge­wa­ter pur­chased does not of­fer the same open-wa­ter views as Cop­per Beech.

Cop­per Beech is mar­keted through Christie’s In­ter­na­tional Real Es­tate and its Hong Kong of­fice to reach in­ter­na­tional buy­ers who have be­come in­creas­ingly prom­i­nent in the US real es­tate mar­ket in re­cent years. Christie’s re­cently ex­panded into Shang­hai and Bei­jing to in­tro­duce its high-end prop­er­ties to art col­lec­tors and high-net-worth in­di­vid­u­als in China.

Kath­leen Coumou, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent at Christie’s In­ter­na­tional Real Es­tate in New York, said the prop­erty is the “per­fect in­vest­ment” for a for­eign buyer, be­cause of its con­ve­nient lo­ca­tion and avail­able wa­ter frontage.

“Cop­per Beech is lo­cated in Green­wich, which is con­sid­ered a de­sir­able lo­ca­tion in an af­flu­ent com­mu­nity with high-pro­file re­tail es­tab­lish­ments and easy ac­cess to New York City by car or train,” Coumou said. “This is a pre­mium in­vest­ment due to the limited avail­abil­ity of wa­ter­front prop­er­ties,” she said.

Ogilvy said some po­ten­tial Chi­nese buy­ers — who vis­ited the prop­erty for in­vest­ment pur­poses — could pos­si­bly sub­di­vide it into 12-13 lots from the cur­rent two big lots. The lo­ca­tion of the house — about six miles from the lo­cal air­port — is con­ve­nient for travel, he said.

Eileen Hsu, an agent with New York res­i­den­tial real es­tate bro­ker­age Dou­glas El­li­man, who has han­dled high­end prop­erty deals with many Chi­nese clients, said Cop­per Beech could be an op­tion for those who plan to build new com­mu­ni­ties on the land.

“They can be in­spect­ing and think­ing build­ing new con­struc­tion build­ings or new home com­mu­ni­ties,” Hsu said. “Many Chi­nese in­vestors that we work with like to get into build­ing new de­vel­op­ments or large com­mer­cial build­ings, in our ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Many Chi­nese in­vestors “are very savvy”, Hsu said. “There­fore, depend­ing on their plans, the 50-acre prop­erty can be prof­itable.”

Mul­ti­ple deals in­volv­ing Chi­nese in­vestors in the past year re­flect a strong ap­petite for US real es­tate.

Chi­nese have left in­vest­ment foot­prints from the West Coast to the East Coast, rang­ing from China’s Vanke and Tish­man Speyer’s lux­ury con­do­minium project in San Fran­cisco to Soho China CEO Zhang Xin’s joint in­vest­ment in a 40 per­cent stake in New York City’s iconic Gen­eral Mo­tors build­ing.

Chi­nese cross- bor­der in­vest­ment in global real es­tate has in­creased rapidly since the 2008 global fi­nan­cial cri­sis, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port by Sav­ills, a global real es­tate-ser­vice provider, and Wealth-X, a Sin­ga­pore-based con­sul­tancy.

With about $23.7 bil­lion in cross-bor­der real es­tate in­vest­ment, China trails only the US in the cat­e­gory, said the re­port, which fo­cused on how pri­vate wealth in­creas­ingly shapes the world’s real es­tate mar­kets.

Yolande Barnes, head of Sav­ills world re­search, said that even mega-rich Chi­nese run into dif­fi­culty in­vest­ing in real es­tate out­side China.

“The most com­mon way is to buy ac­com­mo­da­tion for stu­dent off­spring, or to chan­nel in­vest­ment through a Hong Kong or Sin­ga­porean ve­hi­cle of some kind,” Barnes said.

“I would not there­fore ex­pect Chi­nese wealth to form the bulk of over­seas in­vest­ment in a city like New York,” she said. “A great deal is likely to come from the rest of Asia, Europe and South Amer­ica.”

Scan it!

ZHANG YUWEI / CHINA DAILY

David Ogilvy shows the liv­ing room of the prop­erty which is cur­rently on the mar­ket for $130 mil­lion. Ogilvy said sev­eral Chi­nese have been vis­it­ing the house and there is a po­ten­tial Chi­nese buyer.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

An aerial shot of the 50-acre Cop­per Beech Farm in Green­wich, Con­necti­cut. The prop­erty is the prici­est home in the United States.

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