Connecticut

An attempt to rewrite Connecticut law to enable municipalities to qualify for moratoriums on appeals of local zoning denials for affordable housing developments was vetoed by the governor
An attempt to rewrite Connecticut law to enable municipalities to qualify for moratoriums on appeals of local zoning denials for affordable housing developments was vetoed by the governor.
 
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy rejected the legislation, House Bill 6880–An Act Concerning the Affordable Housing Land Use Appeals Procedure, which would have lowered the minimum number of housing unit-equivalent points needed for a moratorium, expanded the unit types that count towards a moratorium, and redefined median income for purposes of the incentive housing zone statutes. The legislation would have expired after five years.
 
In announcing his veto, Malloy cited the historical precedent of redlining and voiced his concern that the legislation would encourage discrimination in housing.
 
“For many lower-income residents who must work in areas of the state where the cost of housing is high, a long history of decisions and discriminatory policies has made securing that housing persistently difficult,” Malloy said. “Those decisions include the historical practice of redlining—denying mortgages to entire neighborhoods because of the residents’ race or ethnicity—and passing restrictive zoning rules that make it nearly impossible to build multifamily housing, or that require home lots to be so large that only the wealthy can buy them. These kinds of rules effectively price people of limited means who work in such towns out of the market. It is our responsibility as a state, and the responsibility of every city and town in Connecticut, to correct this injustice.”
 
The legislation’s authors vowed to fight to override the governor’s veto.

 
 
For those in search of something grander than a mere home to buy, a celebrated New England ghost town is up for sale—for the third time in three years
For those in search of something grander than a mere home to buy, a celebrated New England ghost town is up for sale—for the third time in three years.
 
The property in question is Johnsonville, located in the Moodus section of East Haddam, Conn. Johnsonville was a 19th century mill community that was repositioned in the mid-1960s as a tourist attraction before being shut down in 1994.
 
Meyer Jabara Hotels, a hotel management firm based in Danbury, Conn., purchased Johnsonville in 2001 for $2.5 million and initially planned to demolish its abandoned structures in favor of a mixed-used development. But local zoning problems proved to be too onerous, and Johnsonville remained largely forgotten until it was featured on a September 2012 episode of the National Geographic Channel show “Abandoned.”
 
Meyer Jabara Hotels conducted an online auction in 2014 and the property sold for $1.9 million, but the winning bidder failed to complete the purchase. The town was listed for sale again in 2015 for $2.4 million, but there were no takers. It is now online for sale again at $1.9 million via William Raveis Luxury Properties, which described the property as an “incredible investor opportunity.”
 
And if you are looking for ghosts in this ghost town, you are out of luck. The horror-hunting Web site DamnedCT.com described Johnsonville as being “like a weird dead spot in an otherwise regular Connecticut neighborhood.”

 
Castle & Cooke Mortgage Taps Louie Rutnam to Lead New SoCal Branch
Castle & Cooke Mortgage has announced the opening of its Danielson, Conn. branch. The new location expands the company's footprint in the state and will complement the company's sister branch in Columbia, and be led by industry veteran TCooke@castlecookemortgage.comTodd A. Cooke who has 15 years of experience in mortgage lending and real estate brokerage.
 
"Assisting first-time homebuyers who need personalized guidance through the homebuying process and buyers unsure of their options given their current credit situation, are my specialty," said Cooke. "I take pride in simplifying the homebuying process and providing all of the information a buyer should have to come to the best decision for their specific and individualized needs."

 
Two luxury homes with distinctive histories are now on the market.
Two luxury homes with distinctive histories are now on the market.
 
A residence designed by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park, Minn., is now listed at $1.395 million. The three-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom brick-and-stone Usonian house covers 2,647 square feet on a 3.77-acre property. This is the first time that this home has been on the market since its construction was completed in 1960, and it includes the original Wright-designed furniture and fixtures.
 
Over in Connecticut, a nine-bedroom, eight-bathroom mansion on a 40-acre called Round Hill Manor is now available for $39 million. But according to the Damned Connecticut Web site, the Greenwich property—now called Round Hill Manor, but previously known as Dunnellen Hall—comes with a creepy history. It was built in 1918 by financier Daniel G. Reid as a gift for his daughter, but a year after its completion Reid’s health failed dramatically and he was twice committed to a psychiatric clinic before his death in 1925. Later occupants—including steel industry executive Loring Washburn, financier Jack Dick, oil industry executive Ravi Tikkoo and real estate magnates Harry and Leona Helmsley—experienced significant financial and legal problems after taking up residence.
 
It seems that the curse of Round Hill Manor is keeping away buyers: It was listed for $65 million in 2014 for $65 million and then relisted last year at $49 million before being discounted again for its current asking price.

 
Motto Mortgage, a member of the RE/MAX Holdings Inc. family of brands, has announced that veteran real estate leader Jack Fry, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX of Reading, Penn.
Motto Mortgage, a member of the RE/MAX Holdings Inc. family of brands, now includes mortgage brokerage franchise opportunities in Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine and New Mexico.
 
“We continue to strategically increase the number of states in which franchises are actively being sold,” said Motto Mortgage President Ward Morrison. “We’re the first national mortgage brokerage franchise in the country, and my team is eager to bring the Motto Mortgage model to these four additional states. Our continued growth is truly exciting.”

 
Attention, classic movie lovers: The Connecticut estate of four-time Academy Award-winner Katharine Hepburn is now on market for $11.8 million
Attention, classic movie lovers: The Connecticut estate of four-time Academy Award-winner Katharine Hepburn is now on market for $11.8 million.
 
According to a Boston Globe report, the six-bedroom, 8,400-square-foot property, located on 1.5 waterfront acres in Old Saybrook, Conn., was first on the market after the actress’ death in 2003 for $12 million. Frank Sciame, founder and CEO of Sciame Construction and Development, acquired the residence for half the asking price and renovated the property in 2005 for use a vacation home.
 
He listed the property in 2014 for $14.8 million, claiming it was “priced to sit”–and it sat with buyer interest, with Sciame removing it from the market before the new listing.
 
There is also a second listing that can be acquired with the property: An adjacent 3,800-square-foot beach house set on 1.3 acres. But that property has no connection to Hepburn—Sciame built it two years ago and is listing it for $5.8 million.
Not every house is an aesthetic masterpiece, but few properties have generated the level of online hilarity as a luxury residence in Avon, Conn., that has been compared to the grisly horror film settings rather than suburban comfort

Not every house is an aesthetic masterpiece, but few properties have generated the level of online hilarity as a luxury residence in Avon, Conn., that has been compared to the grisly horror film settings rather than suburban comfort.

According to an Atlas Obscura report, the 40 photographs on a Zillow listing for 24 Brentwood Drive in Avon, Conn. has created a sensation among the online smart-aleck set, with a flurry of responses on Twitter that include such observations as “Glad we found the set for American Horror Story Season 8,” “We all hope to die at home and this house promises that,” and “Is this a house or a portal to the underworld?” Indeed, the décor is so creepily disturbing that the only thing lacking is a wall rack for hanging chainsaws.

Actually, the outlandish design is the work of artist Nikolay Synkov, who used the house as both his residence and the headquarters of his Fermata Arts Foundation, which he describes as working “to aid in the preservation of peace [through] the synthesis of art, architecture, philosophy and poetry.” He considers the property as a work of art, dubbing it “Brentwood, no. 24.”

Nonetheless, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and would-be buyers are not beholding anything that they want to possess. Synkov first listed the property in March 2013 for $1.14 million, but it is now down to $339,900.

David Zamary is senior vice president of First County Bank in Stamford, Conn., and president of the Connecticut Mortgage Bankers Association (CMBA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with him regarding his work with his state’s mortgage trade association.

When did you first get involved with the CMBA and what was your path to the leadership of the organization?
I first became involved with the organization in 1987. I started by serving on several different committees—production, secondary market, strategic planning, future leaders, underwriting, closing—and later, became a member of the board, and then a member of the executive committee. The president’s term runs for two years, but this is my third year because our past president was unable to complete his last year due to an illness. I plan on handing over the baton to the new president in October.

Why should mortgage professionals in your state become part of CMBA?
The CMBA has a strong continuing education program, which is made available through a number of seminars covering topics relevant to the mortgage business—compliance, sales, underwriting, closing, affordable housing—and we offer classes for mortgage originators. The CMBA is the go-to organization in the state of Connecticut. I often say that we cover everything—people join to network and to get business from us.

How is your organization involved in the shaping and addressing the state and federal legislative and regulatory environment?
We have a full-time lobbyist who handles all of our legislative outreach. Additionally, the organization has a Legislative Committee, and we conduct a conference call once a month where we review all of the active bills before the state legislature. We also have a call every month with the national Mortgage Bankers Association, and we attend their State and Local Workshop every April, although we are not directly involved with federal lobbying.

What do you consider to be your most satisfying accomplishment with the CMBA?
Completing the TRID transition was my most satisfying accomplishment. We expected it to be challenging, and we ended up having to conduct three seminars prior to TRID just to ensure that people were trained properly and that their questions were answered. All in all, it was a very smooth process. People were expecting it to be much worse. In September, we are going to be training two groups of real estate agents on TRID, so that’s our next step—to get more involved with the real estate community.

Why are you interested in getting the real estate professionals involved with the CMBA?
We want them to be knowledgeable on TRID. CMBA has never really had active involvement with this group, so now we’re trying to get more involved. We had one real estate agents as a board member and we’re adding one more in October. We’re the mortgage people—they need us—we need each other.

In your professional opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
This is a critical issue facing us here in Connecticut. We have to increase our outreach on college campuses and conduct more sponsorship programs with colleges to help get young graduates involved. This is a priority for us, and we are working on recruiting more interns from local colleges so that they can learn about the industry.

What is the housing market like in your state?
Right now, we are very busy. We are seeing an increase in first-time homebuyers. Overall, the purchase market is up, although homes priced at $1 million-plus, especially those in the $2 to $3 million range, are having difficulty selling. That segment of the market continues to be slow. Home sales up to $500,000 are doing well, and the $500,000 to $1 million market is holding strong.



Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.

The Connecticut Mortgage Bankers Association (CMBA) Presents: Evaluating & Underwriting the Self-Employed Borrower, set for Thursday, Oct. 13 at the ITBD Building, 185 Main Street in New Britain, Conn.

Session One from 9:00 a.m.-Noon will analyze the 1040 through to Schedule E income, including the rental income schedule. It will try to answer the questions “Why do we treat Self-Employed differently? What are the risk factors to look for and what are the best underwriting offsets?”

Session Two from 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. will review K-1’s, 1065, 1120S, and 1120. Analyzing financial statements and business returns with an eye to the new guidelines and clarifications from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac regarding liquidity, etc. 

Cost per session is $75 for CMBA Members & $95 for Non-Members or $125 for both Sessions for CMBA Members & $175 for Non-Members.

Click here for more information, call (860) 348-1238, e-mail Info@CMBA.org or visit CMBA.org.

An island located in the Long Island Sound off the exclusive town of Darien, Conn., is being positioned to become the most expensive sale of a U.S. real estate property

An island located in the Long Island Sound off the exclusive town of Darien, Conn., is being positioned to become the most expensive sale of a U.S. real estate property.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Great Island is home to a 63-acre estate that includes a six-bedroom mansion, several guest homes and waterfront cottages, a private beach and a dock, and a 20-stall granite stable plus a Grand Prix equestrian arena. The island, which is connected to the mainland by bridges, was originally the home industrialist William Ziegler, who made his fortune in the early 20th century through the sale of baking powder.

If Great Island sells at its listing price, it will break the record for residential property transactions that is held by sale of a $147 million home in New York’s Hamptons in 2014.