On New Year’s Eve Day, I was visiting my kid brother’s family. They live in the fictional town of Suburbia, Long Island.

The next development over is a section of Woodbury called "The Gates" (don’t ask). This has long been a very nice upper-middle to upper class part of town, known for rambling ranches and big splits on one and two acre plots. I hadn’t been thru there in years. My bro said he had something to show me (he is, amongst other things, a successful Real Estate speculator). 

So while the wives played with the kids and chatted, we took the convertible out (it was 56 degrees on 12/31/06) and tooled thru the neighborhoods.

I couldn’t believe the sheer number of knockdowns. It seemed that every 3rd house was either brand new, under construction, or had already been leveled.

The RAZR has a decent camera on it, so I took quite a few snaps:

This is the original sort of Houses that were all over this nicer part upper middle class suburbia. This Ranch is bigger than the photo shows, with a garage off to the right:
1_split

These are what are replacing the ranches and splits:

2_big

How the prices developed was an interesting aspect of this: According to public records, most of these knockdowns were purchased over the past 24 months. Specs paid between $1.0-1.3M — essentially for the land, as they razed whatever buildings were on the property. The new homes had been first listed for $2.4m or so, but that was optimistic. Prices slipped to then $2.2m, and they are now holding at $1.99m — with few takers. But  its a nice neighborhood (location location location), and as prices drop further there will be plenty of buyers — the only question is at what price point?

What I found so fascinating were the number of empty lots (knock downs) and half-finished homes — and according to the neighbors we met, quite a few have been that way for a while.

If any builders/developers here can provide insight, I’m curious as to what it costs to put up one of these bigger homes — not the land, just the construction costs. A few of these 5,000 sq. ft.homes were actually very handsome (not the boring red brick McMansions, but others). I am curious as to how much profit there is in these jumbo homes. 

One thing to note in light of the earlier Lennar news:  As Beezer’s CEO observed, about 75% of the home building business is still in private hands. (See WCW)

I’ll toss the rest of the snaps I took after the jump  . . .

These are all of the snaps I took:

A few of the more handsome homes:   

1_nice

Gotta like the architectural design:

2_real_big

Same home different angle: This one is closer to 8,000+ sq. ft.

3_real_big

Red brick is apparently on sale:

4_sal_e

(Guess what the heck this red hood is attached to:)

5_sale

Owner occupied:

6_sale

This has been half finished for quite some time:

7_sale

Category: Real Estate

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

50 Responses to “RE Speculation on Long Island”

  1. Bluzer says:

    Cost of building? Its all over the map – figure on between $50 to $250 per sq/foot. Depending on the quality of construction, materials used, local labor demand, part of the country, phase of the real estate cycle, ego of the owner, etc. etc.

  2. vfsv says:

    Standard here in Silicon Valley, which presumably has similar contractor demand and cost structure, has been $200, even $250, per square foot.

    Probably toward, & even beyond, the higher end due to the run up in lumber, etc. However, a current deal can probably clip some of that off the top with materials’ cost & contractor demand tapering off over the last couple months…

    Of course, that’s what the buyer pays, not what it costs the buider /contractor. Subtract a profit margin if you’re trying to estimate actual “cost.”

  3. grodge says:

    $50!!! Whoa, where do I sign?

    Even here in depression-socked West Michigan the cost to build a high-end custom home is $150 per foot, and I would add at least 25% on Long Island.

    And costs are rising with the increase in costs of basic materials.

    My guess: 5000 sq ft X $250 per foot = $1.25 million plus the $1.0 million for the lot gives a cost of $2.25 million for the “avg” shack.

  4. michaelcampion says:

    I estimate for a construction company, albeit commercial construction, and I would estimate it at approximately $150/sf*.

    Of course i always have my asterisk there. People from operations frequently come to me an say “how much for a square foot of sheet vinyl.” Well one (1) sqft will cost you 500$ (one guy for one day) but 5,000 sqft will only cost you $4.50 a sqft.

    With all of that said with the size of these houses the proximity to each other, the declining residential construction payroll (see Calculated Risk), and assuming this builder has his/her act together and runs an efficient ship I would estimate $150/sqft with a 15% margin or error on both sides.

    So that puts us at $150 x 5000 or approximately $750,000.

    Of course if they dont run a tight ship this could baloon to $200-$225 a sqft real quick…

    Ouch !

  5. TP says:

    When I was running a construction company (8 years ago in the South), we added a 40% margin to the top of cost. So figure $150 per sqft “retail” equals about $90 per sqft “cost”. We would count on about 40% of that margin not to transfer into profit.

  6. Bob A says:

    Very much the same redevelopment story in the area within the tentacles of the Microsoft campus in Redmond. But there could be an awesome amount of buying power unleashed if MSFT actually starts to go up again.

  7. Brett says:

    I’m with a large private development company in Washington, DC, so my comps might be useful. There are four key cost components to any RE project: land, “hard” costs (construction), “soft” costs (architecture, engineering, permits, legal, etc), and interest.

    Hard costs for a stick-built residential product are probably in the range of $100 to $135 per SF. National builders would be at the lower end or even below due to economies of scale. Projects done in the last year by a small builder would be at the high end. Long Island costs might be a bit higher than DC, though not by too much for this type of project. For a 5000 SF McMansion that amounts to around $600,000 to $700,000 in hard costs.

    Soft costs might be relatively light for a suburban site at $40-60,000.

    The real jimmy-kick comes from interest and other carry expenses such as RE taxes. In my experience most small players don’t adequately account for nor appreciate the impact these costs can have on inventory. Interest on a $1.6 MM construction loan at 7.5% amounts to $120,000 p.a.

    Summary (’000s):
    Land $1,000
    Hard $650
    Soft $50
    Int/Tax $60*
    Total costs $1,760

    *(assumed through construction period)

    With these numbers a $2.0 MM sale price amounts to around a 13.5% return on costs – a margin far below an acceptable comfort level. With a quick sale and leverage you might get into a low 20′s IRR. With any longer carry or pricing weakness you get crushed.

    The numbers in the previous posts, at $200 to $250 PSF seem inordinately high to me and must include more than just the hard costs. By way of comparison we have concrete high-rise buildings recently quoted (for residential use) at $210 – $220 PSF. There’s no way stick-built hard costs come even close to that. Note that a $2 MM sale for a 5000 SF house comes to $400 PSF to the end-buyer. I suspect the $200 to $250 numbers quoted are “delivered” prices from a general contractor who is taking on the soft costs and building for an end-user who is contributing the land.

    Great postings on the housing bubble. It’s here and it’s real. Keep up the good work!

  8. michaelcampion says:

    I would bet this is more of a deal with a general contractor and a real estate agent. I live in San Diego and it is hella prevalent here. A group of people get together and decide they don’t want to miss the millions their buddies are making. Both of these people have some real estate construction knowledge. They set up a LLC and leverage the hell out of the existing house. If they are particularly savvy / corrupt they will set up hard money loans and inflated bank loans (with cash back to lighten the construction loan cost) on the same property with out one hand knowing about the other. They will handle the marketing (the agent) and the construction (the construction half of the partnership) in house and keep costs low. There are a bunch of these ticking time bombs here in SoCal just waiting for their interest only rates to reset and the hard money loans to start amortizing.

  9. Bob A says:

    Around here, a lot of the profit has been on appreciation on the land on top of the profit in the construction. Your dirt is worth a lot more if you can build a $1.5-3 million house on it (today) than if you can build a 3-600,000 house on it (2003). So they buy a bunch of houses, build a 3 million dollar house where there used to be a 1 million dollar house and the value of the dirt under all those tear downs they’re holding doubles. There’s more inventory right now than there has been but a few weeks of nice weather in March could see half of it sell. I’ve seen 700,000 dirt turn into 1,200,000 dirt in a year recently. Of course you have to have residents capable of buying a $3m home for that to work. Seems to be a lot of them around here. Location and the strength of the area economy are key.

  10. GRL says:

    We custom built our home in L.A., Southern California in 1992-98 (yes, it took 6 years!).

    I estimate our construction costs over that time frame were approximately $130.00 per square foot for medium quality construction, with a few amenities like a jacuzzi, and a little bit better quality in things like flooring, windows, etc. Not top of the line, but not the cheap sh*t you find in tract houses, either.

    Factoring in inflation, I estimate the same quality of construction today would probably run $150 to $200 (probably much closer to $200) per square foot.

    We started during the post-cold-war/Northridge earthquake recession, which made it much easier to hire contractors than it would have otherwise been. Certainly, anyone who tried to start a construction project during the bubble had a much tougher time and paid much higher prices, if they could even get contractors to give them the time of day or talk to them about such a “small” project. Now things are a little better, but not much.

    You also need to factor in the cost of permits and regulatory compliance. For example, our area had a $2.50 per square foot “school tax” (probably higher now) and the usual array of developer “fees” (read: taxes). Since we live in unicorporated L.A. County, and not an actual city like Glendale or L.A. proper, our regulatory compliance fees were low. Had we chosen to live in either of those cities, our fees and taxes would have been much, much higher, and we would have had to comply with a bunch of oppressive zoning regulations, design review committees, mansionization laws, etc., etc., intended to make it hard to build and which would have added, say, another $10,000-$50,000 to our costs, with no commensurate improvement in quality or return on investment.

    Oh, and did I mention that at one point we were $100,000 under water on our mortgage and construction costs? Everyone we talked to said what we were doing made absolutely NO economic sense, and, you know what? Over the short run, they were right. Only with the late ’90′s-2006 housing bubble, did we finally come out ahead (and now, by sheer luck, we are way, way ahead).

    Of course, as owner-developers of a single property, we were not able to take advantage of the efficiencies or increased bargaining strength (with contractors and the local “authorities”) that come from size. However, our experience is probably closer to what you are describing above, whereas the experiences of a Toll Brothers would not be.

    The bottom line is this: how anybody can PROFITABLY tear down a single family home, rebuild it, and sell it over a short period of time in today’s extremely hostile regulatory and economic (for people who are not building trades contractors) climate is beyond me. My sympathy goes out to anyone who tries.

  11. Bob A says:

    Around here.. Seattle area.. you can build countless off the shelf variations of the typical craftsman, solidly built, nicely finished for around $150/sqft (not including land). Typical architect commissioned high quality construction runs $250-300/sqft. Typical house at the Yellowstone club near Big Sky, Montana (Bill Gates, Robin Williams, etc)runs $500-600/sqft.

  12. Eclectic says:

    Ask Bro to let us know if they start droppin’ the auctioneer’s hammer on any of these.

    Otherwise, max nix.

  13. lurker says:

    From Jubak’s column on MSN:
    “The number of people paying their mortgages late or not at all rose in the July-through-September quarter to 4.7% from 4.2% in the second quarter. The situation was much worse among subprime borrowers (those with previous credit problems). Among that group, delinquency rates climbed in the quarter to 12.6% from 11.7%. Subprime borrowers with adjustable mortgages were even more likely to be delinquent with a delinquency rate of 13.2%, up from 12.2% in the second quarter.”

  14. dryfly says:

    So figure $150 per sqft “retail” equals about $90 per sqft “cost”. – TP

    I think TP is making the right points, that is differentiating between ‘cost’ and ‘price’.

    If you control most of the build process inputs (your own employees &/or very good long term subcontractor relationships) then your cost structure will be a lot better than if you are one-time contract build ‘newbie’.

    Example: I have a close friend who does ‘artisan concrete’ work in the Twin Cities & he bids two ways – (1) folks he knows & likes (people he knows who will pay & on time) and (2) those he doesn’t know or doesn’t like (everyone else). I’d bet the difference between the two is more than 50%.

    Now if you & your bro’ were to contract with him, first time & no previous business history or rep, he’d scalp you or tell you to hire somebody else (and when you ask other locals for referrals – his name will always be on the top of every list).

    Similar thing happens across many disciplines UNLESS you either hire direct & develop your own talent (almost impossible to do on a small scale) or have a long established pool of very good sub-contractors who want to drop what they are currently doing and work for you.

    Else they squeeze you in when they have time & even then send you their newbie hires or worse.

    The irony is if they ‘like you’ they might even bid reasonably low if they think you pay fast & aren’t a hassle to work for (know what you want, what it will cost & no risk of messy rework).

    I have been told this over & over that there is only one thing worse than a know-nothing prime contractor & that is a know-nothing prime contractor who doesn’t pay.

    Barry – I’d go slow in this biz. I think there is still plenty of money to be made but the dumb easy money is already under the bridge (2005 & before). What remains will have to be ‘earned’.

    JMHO.

  15. Chad K says:

    I come from a family who’s primary business is construction [and painting]. Your average $1,000,000 home will have a total cost of about $700,000… leaving $300,000 in profit. But then again, that’s the midwest. I have no clue what the margins are on LI. I say this, knowing that margins have come down considerably in the past few months. A few of the 1.3M homes listed are now down to 1.1M…. bear in mind that most of these are 7+ bedroom 7+ bath walkouts on golf courses… usually about 7000-9000 sqft. They’re closer to 15-20% margins now, but every day they have to pay the construction loans that comes down. Some builders are losing money where they have lots of unsold spec houses.

  16. bobbyj says:

    I’m a purchaser for general contractor who does tract building in So Cal. I can do your typical 2000 SF-3000 SF home for $60/SF for construction costs all day long.

  17. CDizzle says:

    As a “credit guy” at one of the 10 largest banks in America…I can say a few things:

    1) This Brett guy is right on.

    2) Most of the others are certainly on the right track.

    3) Barry’s point that 75% of builders are private (read: 1-8% the size of the publicly traded boys) is huge. If Toll/Lennar are experiencing weakness, builders that are doing $50-100 million/year are getting hit hard and CRUSHED if their developments happen to be in bottom half areas in terms of reaction to a housing slowdown.

    4) I’d speculate that a 5000 SF new build on LI would be $120-$145/SF, hard costs. If these houses aren’t flying off at $2 million, the developer is probably losing money on the project.

    For the ‘middle market’ builder, interest expense has flown up as a) rates have doubled or more for most builders (Prime from 4% to 8.25%, assume a Prime, floating rate) b) spec inventory relative to total inventory has increased and c) sales are slowing.

    Not to mention decline in speculative land values…but I’m sure all builders got a GRRREAT deal at the time of purchase…

    :)

  18. lurker says:

    Even with global warming and ignoring the taxes in Long Island, I would sure hate to have to heat one of these monsters. Ouch. Are there fields of solar panels and windmills out in the backyard behind the pool and tennis court?

  19. ari5000 says:

    Taxes on L.I. are ridiculous — that is true. They’ve got a lot of ‘top 100′ public schools and love to use real estate taxes to pay the teachers 6 figures.

    Your brother lives in Woodbury — he should know the pain.

  20. 911c4 says:

    I’m guessing that the car is a mercedes, one of the SL variety.
    Probably not a 911, not a corvette.
    Or, could it be a Bentley, or something else fun and trendy?

  21. someguy says:

    Great discussion people.

    “Probably toward, & even beyond, the higher end due to the run up in lumber, etc.”

    For those that aren’t aware, prices for basic building materials are FALLING. Copper was $4 a pound and is now sitting at $2.85. Lumber was near $400 per thousand board feet. It is now at $265. I don’t know if these price decreases have fed through to the retail level yet, but they should be shortly.

    Question: when people discuss the building costs of a house and quote ft^2, does that include the basement and or garage and if so, what sort of finishing is being done in the basement.

    IMO, $100/ft^2 for a nicely finished new house doesn’t sound that bad ! If only I could find some land…

    I love hearing about RE going bust !

  22. someguy says:

    I forgot the link for the prices.

    Here is lumber:
    http://quotes.ino.com/chart/?s=CME_LB.F07&v=d12

    Here is copper:
    http://quotes.ino.com/chart/?s=NYMEX_HG.F07&v=dmax

    Copper was $1/pound forever prior to the housing boom. I’ll bet $20 that it goes right back there in 2007.

  23. Mel says:

    As a former Long Islander, I would just like to add that despite their size, those first two are actually kind of nice and seem to fit in with the look of some of the Hamptons mansions and the like. The last few are a tad McMansiony for my taste. But at least they are built on plots where they fit – in my Nassau hometown, there is a lawsuit over a home that looks to be at least 6000 sq. ft. or more, where the permit listed the home as 4000 or so. Big difference, and lots of anger – looks totally out of place.

  24. Repoman says:

    Barry,
    I’ve seen The Gates community (seems like it’s pretty empty). There are so many gated communities going up on the North Shore. Have you been down Shelter Rock road? Beautiful homes. Everything there has tripled in price. Not too far from my wife’s favorite shopping mecca…The Miracle Mile(Americana Mall).

    Forget about the taxes: it cost me 18K a year.

    How is the Pasty’s that they opened in Woodbury? I hope it’s not a letdown from the ones in NYC!!

    Happy New Year!!

  25. Aaron says:

    I just can’t believe how ugly those McMansions are. Eeeeew.

  26. anderl says:

    Cousin is a developer in NW CT for the last 15 years. They put a 40-50% mark up on the cost to build. Their reasoning is that the real estate market is cyclical and when the booms come their mark up to the high end and leverage the profits into the next set of homes to grow as fast as they can before the ball drops. When signs come in that there is a slow down they tighten the belt and can afford to sell the newer builds at tighter margins. They try not to go under a 20-25% profit per build unless things are dire. Even if they come out break even or at a loss on some properties the gains they picks up at the start of the cycle more than pay for the losses at the end. The company then goes into hibernation putting out a couple a year for those who can afford it.

    Word to the wise. Don’t ever buy a home built at end of the real estate boom. Labor costs are high, building material costs are high. Home builders will use shoddy and discounted materials, or use cheaper and less experienced labor but still charge your the market price, just to keep their margins high and save a buck.

  27. ari5000 says:

    Even when real estate craters — it still won’t put a major dent in L.I. houses. This is not the subprime market. My mother lives in a gated community where the prices are sky-high and they are building more condos a mile away starting at $1 million.

    The builders for HIGH-END markets are completely undaunted.

    Bernanke’s conundrum (or is it Greenspan’s) should manifest in 2007. He’s going to feel the true force of a weakening economy (so he should lower interest rates, right?) Just as the dollar crumbles as Central Banks slowly try to diversify from dollar holdings — weakening the power of the dollar (so he should raise rates, right?)

    When two opposing forces meet — every wise investor should know the answer — he will obviously opt to raise rates. The demise of the dollar is unthinkable. The demise of the consumer is — inevitable.

    Everyone can speculate all they want. I don’t know where the market is going in 2007 — but real estate and the dollar issues are two big problems and when Ben blinks and hints at tightening in a slowing economy… it will be game over for the Dow. But my guess is we haven’t seen the end to all the tricks they can pull to avoid this conflict which has been put off to the benefit of Big Big Big Money.

    Not surprised to see gold start off 2007 strong — it has completely moved away from any kind of relationship with the price of oil. Gold should be a good leading indicator what’s going to unfold. If gold should start a run over $650/oz., it would be time, I think, to really start considering setting up short positions. Until then, all systems are go.

    Just a theory of mine.

  28. Eclectic says:

    Ari5000… possibly correct.

    It’s actually not so far fetched that the Fed might even raise rates.

    It depends on whether they would wish to honor their responsibility to maintain the integrity of the currency, or whether, at that precise time they’d instead rather attempt to extend the economic recovery, one that might just be a phantom reorganization of assumed asset values.

    Anyway, it’s a coin they won’t want to flip… and they’ll know the housing juggernaut will just inflate further if they do cut rates. Why?…

    Forget all this recent talk of a new sort of discipline for the housing/mortgage industry… it’s not politically correct, and even if it was, now the House and Senate have themselves flipped. No… lower rates will drive housing to the stratosphere.

    ….Adios discipline.
    ………Oh Sole Mio, OFFEO!

    This Congress may now have shifted politically enough to consider that special mortgage financing is the birthright of an American. Try asking the two NY Senators how they feel about the subject.

    We have a country that’s too rich (too top-heavily rich) for it to respond to expansive monetary policy.

    I’ve written that this is because:

    “Not until either perceived liquidity drops low enough, or transactional demand climbs high enough (or these were to occur on some relative basis), such that perceived liquidity no longer is substituted for nominal liquidity transactional demand, expansive monetary policy is simply sterile.”

    Once they understand this (and it may take a while… I don’t suppose they read Eclectic yet); that monetarism has its special limitations… cutting rates becomes less of an option than resolving to steady U.S.D.

    Volcker knew this (for a somewhat different reason) and he ultimately knew that expansive monetary policy was often merely a political expedient.

    However, don’t bet that they won’t cut rates. Bernanke was born and bred to inherit the mantle passed to him by Milton Friedman, so the special failures of monetarism may yet have to be proven to him.

    Were we to have a significant recession (I don’t know if we will), that is when Bernanke will learn that monetarism can be sterile. He’d un-learn everything he thinks he knows about depressions.

  29. someguy says:

    “Even when real estate craters — it still won’t put a major dent in L.I. houses. This is not the subprime market. My mother lives in a gated community where the prices are sky-high and they are building more condos a mile away starting at $1 million. The builders for HIGH-END markets are completely undaunted.”

    HA ! You’ve drank the Cool Aid too ! It doesn’t matter if that isn’t a sub prime market. When RE falls, it will affect all markets everywhere.

    I say when it falls because manias don’t correct until liquidity dries up and that hasn’t happened in RE – yet. It will soon, though, witness MLN ceasing operations in the last week.

    Doesn’t it strike anyone as funny that a number of mortgage lenders have recently gone bankrupt and yet nobody on Wall Street notices ? BTW: an arm of GMAC was the cash source for MLN. I wonder how significant their loss will be.

    “The demise of the consumer is — inevitable.”

    That is my feeling as well.

    “Everyone can speculate all they want. I don’t know where the market is going in 2007 — but real estate and the dollar issues are two big problems and when Ben blinks and hints at tightening in a slowing economy… it will be game over for the Dow. But my guess is we haven’t seen the end to all the tricks they can pull to avoid this conflict which has been put off to the benefit of Big Big Big Money.”

    I don’t think there is a way. I’d love to know what you are thinking.

  30. D. says:

    Lots of construction here in Montreal still. The amazing part is American money just keeps on flowing in, without any guarantees of occupancy even.

    Condos are overbuilt but they keep on adding. A couple of year ago, they were building 2500-3500 square feet homes now it’s in the 6000 square feet range.

    What I’ve been hearing is that a lot of money is being laundered through the REIC. Ever since 9/11, banks have really beren force to tighten surveillance. I guess gift cards and real estate are now the best bet.

  31. critical thought says:

    I’m guess the red hood is attached to a crossfire or an MB. . . kind of has those lines.

  32. V L says:

    “Guess what the heck this red hood is attached to:”
    Hot red Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano with standard factory installed iPod dock connector. (iPod not included)

  33. donna says:

    Oh goody, more huge homes to heat and cool. Just what America needs.

    Too much money in too few hands these days.

  34. paul says:

    States Swift to Warn Mortgage Lenders: Guidance Follows a Federal Advisory On the Risks of Nontraditional Loans

    By Kirstin Downey
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, January 2, 2007; Page D01

    Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have moved quickly to warn state-regulated lenders about the hazards to consumers from nontraditional mortgages.

    Tens of thousands of state-licensed lenders and mortgage brokers are affected by the advisories, also known as a “guidance.” Such loans include interest-only mortgages and other arrangements where the borrower cuts monthly costs by paying back less than full interest and principal.

    snip

    In 2003, just 10.6 percent of new loans tracked by First American LoanPerformance, a San Francisco-based real estate information service, were nontraditional mortgages, but during the first nine months of 2006, about 34.1 percent of all borrowers used these loans to buy or refinance homes.

    snip

    Regulators have noted that many consumers are unaware that their payments could double or even triple when they reset. At a recent Consumer Bankers Association conference, some lenders marketing fixed-rate loans to borrowers with nontraditional mortgages said that 30 to 50 percent of the borrowers seemed unaware of the resets looming.
    _________

    File under: Closing the barn doors after the horses left -
    “The Conference of State Bank Supervisors put out a model set of guidelines based on the federal guidance. It spells out that lenders must take into account whether borrowers will be able to afford to pay when the loans reset and must explain the loans more explicitly.”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/01/AR2007010100669.html

  35. carguesser says:

    The car is a Lexus.

  36. lurker says:

    I thought BMW, but I don’t know cars.

  37. Eclectic says:

    Isn’t that precious!

    …Two ping-pongers sittin’ in a red Lexus convert — in a community you’d probably have to get an appointment with the butler before cutting the grass — pontificatin’ about a RE collapse.

    ~~~

    BR: Uh, no — its a 21 year old car — (but thanks for playing)

  38. whoknows says:

    BR – You should take a look at the monstrosity (Dupont Estates) on Northern Boulevard just West of NYIT. I am pretty sure it is a house! Has to be at least 20000 sq.ft.

  39. someguy says:

    Copper down another 20 cents a pound to $2.65 today ! That is 33% off its high this summer. It still has another $1.65 to go.

    Oil down $2.65 a barrel !

  40. Lord says:

    Brett is right on. The costs per sf of the house are actually less by ~20% but what doesn’t count as square footage, garage, patio, landscaping, makes up the rest of the cost.

  41. CA builder says:

    Given all the variables, in California’s Sierra Nevada Foothills that end of the market is $250-$300/sf.

  42. EV says:

    ’86 560sl

  43. Fatty Arbuckle says:

    ari5000:

    “Even when real estate craters — it still won’t put a major dent in L.I. houses. This is not the subprime market. My mother lives in a gated community where the prices are sky-high and they are building more condos a mile away starting at $1 million.

    The builders for HIGH-END markets are completely undaunted.”

    Unfortunately my cursory check of subprime lending rates in Nassau/Suffolk failed, as I’m not well versed in web data collection… But I’d guess that while we’re probably not atop the subprime list, you don’t need a subprime-loan ridden market to have above-average market declines (“major dent”) when the area affordability is low and most buyers are financially stretched.

    But I’m talking the Nassau/Suffolk MSA here. At that upper crust, I’d agree that you have less to worry about, as that’s certainly not a sub-prime market.

  44. Ed Thomas says:

    I’m a medium sized builder in Tidewater, Virginia. Average cost per square foot (not including land/architect-plan fees or sewer/water taps/septic) ranges from $52.00 (Basic) to 75-80 (Mid) to 90-110 Luxury.
    I love all these 200-250 per Sq. Ft (even in Cal or NY)……see all those Hummers??? there’s your extra 100-150 per SF

  45. Chuck says:

    “Even when real estate craters — it still won’t put a major dent in L.I. houses. This is not the subprime market.”

    Even in the high-price areas, there has been widespread use of “extreme balloon lending” since 2003. If many of these “well-off” folks haven’t been setting aside plenty of $$, the reset to the amortizing payment on a 7-figure mortgage will be.. er.. “difficult”.

  46. David Yaseen says:

    I’m going to go with 500/560 SEC or SEL. I’m troubled by the missing hood badge, but maybe it’s curved out of the pic. For a long time, the SEC was my ultimate ambition.

  47. Chibi says:

    I would love for the correct answer to be 1986 Chrysler LeBaron, but I don’t think so.

  48. Art Vandalay says:

    Chrysler LeBaron owned by John Voigt…

  49. Layna Jan Wilson says:

    Hello Readers…

    Does anyone have a foto of my cousin Henry Lewis Stimson’s home on Long Island?

    I can’t find one anywhere on the internet.

    Would like one for the Family History Album I am putting together.

    Thankyou,
    Layna.
    Vancouver, Canada.