Taking a page from Donald Trump’s playbook, a mystery investor is trying to turn a profit by flipping the president-elect’s boyhood home.
After languishing without a buyer for months, the five-bedroom Tudor in Jamaica Estates, New York, was sold Dec. 16 to a buyer who will auction it to the highest bidder in January, according to Paramount Realty USA.
That’s a quick turnaround for any house flip, but it’s an especially bold undertaking in a time of rising mortgage rates and winter market doldrums.
Paramount owner Misha Haghani wouldn’t disclose the name of the investor or what he paid, but expects him to make a profit.
“I don’t think there was a premium accounted for here, not a full premium anyhow,” Haghani said of the December sale. “The buyer came forward at a time that was opportune and offered the seller a price that made sense for the seller. And the seller took it. It wasn’t just about price.”
Now the mystery investor is preparing to get maximum returns from the Trump connection. To generate interest in a sale, Paramount is circulating a copy of the president-elect’s birth certificate, which shows the home’s Wareham Place address. His father, Fred Trump, a developer, built the 2,000-square-foot house in 1940.
In real estate jargon, the property has potential. The bathrooms are outdated and the landscaping could use some TLC, but it has a finished basement and is within walking distance of transit.
Property records show Isaac and Claudia Kestenberg bought the property in 2008 for $782,500. The couple listed it for sale July 8, not long after Trump had clinched the Republican nomination.
The Kestenbergs’ original asking price was $1.65 million, a premium price for the neighborhood and a property in need of a refresh. They lowered the price twice, then decided to sell the house at a live auction the night of Oct. 19, just as Trump and Clinton were preparing to debate for the third and final time.
At the last minute, the auction was postponed.
“There was so much publicity, we concluded it would be wise to postpone,” Haghani said.
The Kestenbergs could not be reached for comment. Their real estate agent, Howard Kaminowitz of Laffey Real Estate, did not respond to requests for comment.
Days after the original auction was postponed, the Kestenbergs dropped the price again, to $1.25 million. A buyer emerged.
“Now it will be auctioned as the childhood home of the president-elect instead of the Republican candidate for president,” Haghani said. “I have no clue what this is worth. It’s such a unique property.”
“It’s really up to the discerning buyer to say what it’s worth,” Haghani said. “That’s why an auction makes sense here, for the same reason that art and other things with intangible value are sold at auction.”
Bidders have until 4 p.m. Jan. 17 to submit written offers and a 10 percent deposit. There’s no reserve price.
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