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October 30, 2019 | Candace Friis

Deed: Couple pays $6.7M for spec house

By Darrell Hofheinz

The paint hardly had time to dry before a spec house at 235 Eden Road — built without a buyer and listed for sale early this season – changed hands after generating plenty of interest from buyers on the hunt for new construction.
Former Deloitte & Touche chairman J. Michael “Mike” Cook and his wife, Mary Anne, closed last week on the four-bedroom North End house, which traded for a recorded $6.717 million. The Cooks, who recently sold their homesteaded home in Delray Beach, also have ties to Greenwich, Conn., property records show.

The Bermuda-style house on Eden Road house has 6,221 square feet of living space, inside and out, so the recorded price worked out to just under $1,100 per square foot. That price is squarely in the $6-million-to-$7.5-million range that real estate pros have identified as this season’ sweet spot on the island.

Agent Cris Condon of Sotheby’s International Realty represented the Cooks opposite agent Paula Wittmann of Fite Shavell & Associates. Wittmann’s husband, Paul, heads Wittmann Building Corp., which constructed the house in partnership with real estate investor Peter Callahan.

The property was sold by a limited liability company named after its address. The developers bought the property in May 2009 and demolished a house there to make room for their new one.

On a lot measuring a third of an acre, the house stands on a prime street where the properties are ample enough to justify a builder’s land and construction costs. The property sold with deeded beach access and came with another in-demand amenity: a service drive.

The home’s sales listing also notes a gas fireplace, an expansive master suite overlooking a 22- by 22-foot pool, a cabana bath and outdoor shower, and a kitchen with a breakfast bar and separate dining area.

The house was among the few newly finished homes available at the start of the season. It landed in the Palm Beach Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service just before Halloween at $7.495 million and was under contract a little over a month later.

Paula Wittmann reported that she had been fielding calls even before the property hit the market. New and newer homes are rare, she noted, thanks to the residual effects of the recession.

“I only showed it to two (different house-hunters). I showed it within two hours on the same day – and it sold within 24 hours to the first people I showed it to,” Wittmann said.

After his retirement, the Cooks lived in a Palm Beach condominium for about 10 years, Mike Cook said via email.

“As we grew up in Florida, our principal attractions to Palm Beach was that we had family nearby and our familiarity with the area,” he said. “We believe our home on Eden Road is a beautiful property, that we were delighted to purchase.”

The couple also was familiar with Wittmann Building Corp.’s work and appreciated the home’s fine finishes and materials.

This month has been a busy one, real estate-wise, for the Cooks. On Jan. 15, they closed a $4.4-million sale of their five-bedroom waterfront home at 1030 Basin Drive in Delray Beach, which they had owned since April 2013. Agent Candace Friis of the Corcoran Group’s Delray office had listed the 7,707-square-foot house at $4.795 million, and agent Caron Dockerty of Lang Realty in Delray was on the other side of the deal.

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Other North End action — John and Suzanne Thorndike have sold 125 E. Inlet Drive, their four-bedroom house with 3,761 total square feet at the northern tip of the island, for a recorded $2.395 million.

The buyer was a family trust for Thomas I. and Amy Sutherland Volini, who served as trustees, according to the deed recorded shortly before Christmas.

The Volinis have other residences in Chicago and Kansas City, Mo. He is a senior executive with Colliers International, and her family owns Kansas City-based Sutherland Lumber Co.

Agent Jim McCann of the Corcoran Group had listed house on the far North End at $2.75 million. Broker Lawrence Moens of Lawrence A. Moens Associates was on the buyers’ side of the sale.

Thorndike, a mortgage bond specialist, and his wife have moved a little closer to Midtown. Last June, they bought a four-bedroom home from Shirley Donato at 335 Crescent Drive. They were represented in that $2.5-million deal by agents Vicky Reynolds and Ann Blades of Tina Fanjul Associates. Betsey Hall of Hall Real Estate was the listing agent for the 3,761-square-foot house on the near North End.

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A mixed bag — Fewer single-family houses changed hands in Palm Beach during October, November and December than in the previous quarter, a new sales report commissioned by Douglas Elliman shows.

Sales of 23 houses closed in the fourth quarter, compared to 27 in July, August and September. In the fourth quarter of 2013, closings totaled 28.

The median single-family price also fell, from $4.5 million to $4.05 million, according to Thursday’s report, which was based on MLS data. The median is the price at which half the homes sold for more and half for less.

But median single-family prices rose in the fourth quarter over the same reporting period a year ago, when the price was $2.3 million.

On the condominium and townhouse scene, 53 units changed hands in the fourth quarter, up from 51 during the previous three months. Median prices also rose slightly, from $550,000 to $585,000. A year ago, the median fourth-quarter condo price was $640,000 for the 58 units that sold.

Inventory overall was substantially tighter in the fourth quarter than a year ago. The final three months of 2013 saw 127 houses and 370 condos and townhouses for sale in MLS. In the quarter that just ended, those numbers had fallen to 107 and 345, respectively.

The report is prepared by Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants and is viewable by clicking the “Market Reports” link at Elliman.com.

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