October 23, 2014

Jason Kidd Lists Hamptons Home for $7.995 Million

An aerial view of Jason Kidd’s Hamptons home
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Jason Kidd,

retired NBA star and head coach for the Milwaukee Bucks, has listed his Hamptons home in Water Mill, N.Y., for $7.995 million.

Built in 2012, the roughly 7,800-square-foot, transitional-style mansion includes six bedrooms, six bathrooms, and a large “man cave” area on the lower level that was recently filled with Kidd’s sports memorabilia, said listing agent Matthew Breitenbach of Corcoran Group Real Estate. “But that’s going with him,” he added.

Jason Kidd is selling the home to be closer to his new coaching position in Milwaukee, said listing agent Matthew Breitenbach.
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Collectibles notwithstanding, the home is being sold with furnishings. “You could basically show up with your toothbrush and sleep there,” the agent said. Mr. Kidd bought the home through a trust for $5 million in 2012, according to public records.

The nearly 2-acre, gated compound includes a pool, tennis court, half basketball court and a putting green. There is also a 1,250-square-foot carriage house with space for a gym or office.

Mr. Kidd is selling the home to be closer to his new coaching position in Milwaukee, as he prepares for his first season with the Bucks, Mr. Breitenbach said. Mr. Kidd couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Write to Stefanos Chen at stefanos.chen@wsj.com

Article source: http://online.wsj.com/articles/jason-kidd-lists-hamptons-home-for-7-995-million-1414017543?mod=residential_real_estate

London’s Regent’s Park Is Having a Moment

Avenue Gardens in Regent’s Park, London.
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Regent’s Park, the 395-acre green space in Northwest London, is home to lions, tigers and other big game that reside at the park’s London Zoo. Now London’s property hunters increasingly have their sights set on the handful of streets surrounding the park.

British property developer Christian Candy, who already has a home on the park, has bought a row of seven houses on a street overlooking the park. He has planning permission to turn the row into a single, 45,000-square-foot family home, which local agents estimate could be worth £200 million when completed.

Property developer Christian Candy has bought a row of seven houses on a street overlooking the park.
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Artist Damien Hirst spent a reported £34 million on a 14-bedroom villa in the neighborhood.
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Fashion designer Tom Ford is a resident of the neighborhood.
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This summer, artist Damien Hirst, who made his name pickling sharks and embellishing skulls with diamonds, spent a reported £34 million on a 14-bedroom villa in the neighborhood. Fashion designer Tom Ford is also a local resident.

Though it is about 4 miles northwest of London’s traditional prime real estate heartland, which includes the better known districts of Knightsbridge and Mayfair, Regent’s Park is a sought-after address, particularly for wealthy buyers from abroad.

The area’s high security, discreet atmosphere and palatial houses have made it popular with Russian buyers, while the presence of a major mosque on the park fringes has always made it a hot spot for Middle Eastern buyers.

“The park is closed overnight and so it is completely car-free apart from residents. It is very secure because most of the terraces have private security and the houses are all gorgeous,” says Stephen Lindsay, a director of


Savills
,

who has been involved in some of the biggest real-estate deals in the area.

An aerial view of the park and surrounding streets.
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Part of the reason for the area’s exclusivity is its size. It is comprised of only a handful of streets, most notably the Outer Circle which as its name suggests rings the park, and a dozen or so offshoots.

Another factor is the sheer cost: up to $8,000 a square foot for a property in good condition.

According to research by Savills, average prices in Regent’s Park today stand at about $2 million—although whole houses routinely sell for north of $16 million. These prices have risen a relatively modest 5.5% in the last year as London’s top end of the market cools, and 37.5% since the prerecession peak of the market in 2007.


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Most of the houses were commissioned by the Prince Regent (later King George IV) and designed by the architect

Sir John Nash

in the early 19th century. Nash’s classical terraces and villas clad in white plasterwork have become a hallmark of the Regency period.

There are some potential drawbacks to the area. Despite paying prices in the tens of millions, most buyers don’t actually own their homes outright. Properties in Regent’s Park are owned by the Crown Estate, one of central London’s richest landowners. Those who buy in the neighborhood are in fact only freeholders who have the right to use a property for a set period.

Homes sold with long leases (up to 150 years) are the most valuable, while those with short leases of less than 50 years are relative bargains, with a square foot value as low as $2,400, according to Mr. Lindsay, because of the cost and red tape surrounding extending that lease.

And the distance from central London means that residents need to travel to reach shops, restaurants and bars—although Marylebone High Street, which has a surfeit of all three, is a 10-minute walk away.

Then there is the flip side of all that Regency splendor: The historic houses of Regent’s Park are highly protected, and getting building permissions to alter the interior or exterior of the properties can be almost impossible.

New development within Regent’s Park is also largely prohibited. Developer PCW Property Holding plans to convert houses on Park Crescent West, at the southern fringes of the park, into 91 apartments, with nine new houses built in the gardens behind. The plans have met with a wave of protest from neighbors who say they fear disruption from the construction and complain the properties could be bought by overseas buyers likely to leave them largely vacant. Westminster Council is expected to give its verdict on the proposals later this year.

Sam Mitchell, the CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty in the U.K., believes that the area’s strict rules are part of its charm. For instance, to help preserve the uniformity of the Regent’s Park houses, exterior paintwork most all be in the same color scheme of off-white plasterwork and black front doors. “It does look very, very smart,” he said.

Article source: http://online.wsj.com/articles/londons-regents-park-is-having-a-moment-1413992794?mod=residential_real_estate

Philanthropist Selling San Francisco Home to Give Away More Money

  • Price: $6,250,000
  • Location: San Francisco, CA

Lorry Lokey, founder of Business Wire, has listed his Russian Hill apartment to get closer to his goal of giving away $1 billion – Sarah Tilton

Article source: http://online.wsj.com/articles/philanthropist-selling-san-francisco-home-to-give-away-more-money-1413989995?mod=residential_real_estate

Best Week of Year for Refis; MBA sees Purchase Loan gains Next Year

Falling interest rate precipitated a
major refinancing rally during the week ended October 17 even though Columbus
Day shortened the business weeks in some locations.  The Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA’s)
Refinance Index jumped 23 percent compared to the previous week, the largest
increase for the index this year, far surpassing an 11 percent gain in January
and taking the index to its highest level since November 2013.  Applications for refinancing made up a 65
percent share of all applications compared to 59 percent the previous week and the
average size of a loan for refinancing rose to $306,000 the highest level since
MBA started its survey in 1990.

Refinance Index vs 30 Yr Fixed

The surge
in refinancing drove the MBA’s Market Composite Index up 11.6 percent on a
seasonally adjusted basis from the week ended October 10 and the unadjusted
index rose 12 percent.  Purchase home
mortgages however did not participate in the application booklet.  Both the seasonally adjusted and unadjusted Purchase
Indices fell by 5 percent and the unadjusted index was down 9 percent from the
same week in 2013.

Purchase Index vs 30 Yr Fixed

“Continuing
concerns about weak economic growth in Europe and a few US economic indicators
that came in below expectations caused a flight to quality into US Treasuries
last week, leading to sharp drops in interest rates,” said Mike Fratantoni,
MBA’s Chief Economist. “Mortgage rates have fallen close to 30 basis points
over the last four weeks.”

In a
separate statement earlier in the week Fratantoni said he expects 2015 to be a
better year
for purchase mortgages and that overall loan volume will increase by
7 percent to a total of $1.19 trillion. Purchase originations are projected to grow
by 15 percent to $731 billion from 635 billion in 2014.  Refinancing will fall back by 3 percent to
$457 billion from $471 billion in 2014.  The
trend will continue in 2016 with purchase originations rising to $791 billion and
refinancing falling further to $379 billion. 
This will bring the total volume in 2016 to $1.17 trillion, slightly
below 2015 projections.

 

“We are projecting that home
purchase originations will increase in 2015 as the US economy continues on its
current path of stronger growth, job gains and declining unemployment. 
The job market has shown sustained improvement this year; with robust monthly
increases in both payroll jobs and job openings,” Fratantoni said.  “We
are forecasting that strong job growth, coupled with still low mortgage rates,
should translate to an increase in home sales and purchase originations.

“Our projection for overall economic growth is 2.9 percent in 2015 and 2.4 in
2016, which will be driven mainly by strong consumer spending and business
fixed investment, as households continue to spend on durable goods, such as
cars and appliances, and as businesses invest in new plant and equipment. 
Moreover, after several years of contraction, the rate of government spending
should no longer be a drag on the economy.

“We expect that the 10-Year Treasury rate will stay below three percent through
the first half of next year as concerns about broader global issues have caused
a flight to quality, with investors seeking safety in US Treasury
securities.  However, if the global turmoil diminishes and US economic
growth continues, we anticipate the rate will exceed three percent in the
second half of 2015, continuing to increase through 2016.  We expect the
Federal Reserve will keep short-term rates near zero until mid-2015, when we
expect to see the first fed funds rate increase.

“With the recent drop in mortgage rates, some borrowers now have an incentive
to refinance and with the home price gains of the last two years more
homeowners have enough equity to refinance, so we expect a pickup in refinance
application activity
over the next few months, which will lead to higher
refinance originations in early 2015,” Fratantoni said.

MBA upwardly revised its estimate of originations for 2014 to $1.11 trillion
from $1.01 trillion, and for 2013 to $1.85 trillion from $1.76 trillion, to
reflect the most recent data reported in the 2013 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act
(HMDA) data release.

MBA’s
Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey found both contract and effective mortgage
rates down across the board during the week ended October 17.  The average contract interest rate for
30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRM) with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or
less) decreased to 4.10 percent, the lowest level since May 2013, from 4.20
percent, with points increasing to 0.21 from 0.17.

The
average rate for 30-year jumbo FRM (balances greater than $417,000) decreased
to 4.03 percent, the lowest level since May 2013, from 4.14 percent while points
increased to 0.20 from 0.10.  The rate
for FHA backed 30-year FRM decreased to 3.81 percent, the lowest level since June
2013, from 3.90 percent, with points decreasing to 0.07 from 0.08. 

The
15-year
FRM had an average rate of 3.28 percent, the lowest level since May
2013, with 0.22 point.  The previous week
the rate was 3.41 percent, with 0.28 point.

The
average contract interest rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) decreased
to 2.94 percent, the lowest level since June 2013, from 3.05 percent, with points
decreasing to 0.37 from 0.38.  The share
of applications for ARMs jumped last week from 8 percent to 9.4 percent of all
applications, the highest level since June 2008.

MBA’s survey
gathers information regarding more than 75 percent of all U.S. retail residential
mortgage applications from mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts. Base
period and value for all indexes is March 16, 1990=100 and interest rate quotes
are for loans with an 80 percent loan to value ratio.  Points include the origination fee.

Article source: http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/10212014_application_volume.asp

Elizabeth Warren Goes After Lenders; Ocwen vs NY Continues

If I was going to build a house, I’d want to make sure it was on the right lot. For some folks that doesn’t work out so well
– thanks to Ali F. for sending this in. As the MBA’s conference wraps
up today in Las Vegas without me finding the Segway rental desk, I am
reminded that indeed the
vast majority of people in the mortgage industry are truly interested
in helping borrowers,
or helping companies help borrowers, regardless of the city in which the convention is held. Speaking of cities, if you’re in Fort Worth Friday, come say hello!
I will be in Fort Worth Texas at Cendera Center (3600 Benbrook Hwy.) to
talk about the conference and current trends with lenders out there –
there are definitely some common themes. Join us for commentary at 1PM
followed by a networking reception.

Generally
speaking, there is not a lot of drama here at the conference in Las
Vegas. (I know that because one of the big topics in meetings was Kevin
Spacey’s liberal use of language during the entertaining opening event.)
Nonetheless, new Ginnie Mae issuer liquidity rules announced here may pose “a little bit” of a problem for 5 or 6 big nonbanks.
But they will have until 2016 to comply. Apparently Ginnie wants to do
its part in making sure mortgage companies buying “big blocks” of
servicing ready with enough liquid assets to support potential cash
needs.

Oh, and wait! There’s also a lot of drama between Ocwen and the state of New York
– and rarely does a battle between the government regulators
versus any lender end well for the lender. On the one hand, given some
of the headlines saying lending is easing you’d think reps and warrants
might actually change and lenders wouldn’t live in fear of actually
doing a loan. But then the headlines blare, “Elizabeth Warren Demands An Investigation Of Mortgage Companies“. Are we having fun yet?

In closing news, Secure Settlements conducted a survey focused on training and data security polling
1788 closing agents nationwide October 7-14. Some of the highlights:
only 32% of the agents polled carry cyber liability or data security
insurance;  more than 80% say they train their employees regularly in
both mortgage fraud and the  handling sensitive borrower information but
only 64% in anti-money laundering rules and risks, while  69% state
they conduct training on CFPB rules and regulations;  when asked how
often their trust accounts were audited in the past 24 months, nearly a
third of the attorneys polled replied “never” while 65% of title and
escrow agents had been audited at least once with nearly 15% having been
audited three or more times in that period. 37% of agents are seeing
lower business volume in the past quarter. Finally when asked about
their confidence in the real estate market in 2015, 55% see positive
growth ahead while 26% see a tough year for the industry and 19% had no
opinion.

The
industry has one less worry, and that is that QRM wasn’t going to jive
with QM. Leave it to those mortgage insurers to come up with, “U.S.
Mortgage Insurers (USMI) welcomes the approval by U.S. financial
regulators today of final rules to align the definition of a Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) to the Qualified Mortgage (QM) standards, stemming from the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation.  Aligning
QRM with QM encourages responsible loan underwriting while also
providing homebuyers with access to affordable mortgage financing with
traditional, proven underwriting features.  This
combination will help ensure a sustainable mortgage market that
balances credit access and credit discipline, without greatly increasing
compliance costs.”

The FHA and house flipping? Now that many markets are back on their feet, there are changes in the wind

Lenders Compliance Group, a national, full-service, mortgage risk management firm that specializes in residential mortgage compliance announcement, is partnering with MortgageFlex Systems, an established provider of loan origination and servicing technology press release.
The partnership is another step to further ensure the validity and
compliance of the LoanQuest loan origination system with CFPB
regulations.

Essent Guaranty, Inc.
announced it is now offering lenders access to Essent MI for delegated
and non-delegated loans and rate quotes through INTEGRA’s Destiny Loan
Origination System (LOS) Platform. Essent Guaranty was approved to provide Mortgage Insurance on mortgages sold to the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston.

Nationstar
will update the values on its State and Loan Amount Adjuster Table
effective with Best Effort and Mandatory commitments starting October
1st. Changes will also be made regarding charges for loans without
escrows. Click here to download the complete Pricing Flash.

Word Press posted new education notice for New Hampshire per a new post on the NMLS course provider newsletter explaining in detail the new education requirement.

Secure Settlements just signed Vanguard Funding out of NY and Visio Financial in Austin TX.

Flagstar Wholesale
can now deliver electronic copies of appraisals and other written
valuations to borrowers on table funded transactions (including FHA SO
transactions). As previously communicated, the 2014 annual
recertification for all Flagstar Non-Delegated Brokers and
Correspondents began on August 18. To avoid being placed in a suspended
status, information required must be provided no later than October
10th.

Franklin American Mortgage Company
posted the following updates: it no longer requires an itemization of
lender/seller credits, nor the GFE to be dated at least one day prior to
closing. Title commitments that are dated more than 60 days prior to
the note date are no longer suspended and recording fees are now
reviewed post purchase. Minor technicalities in completing the 4506T,
are not suspended as long as all required transcripts are delivered.
Additionally, if you utilize its DO sponsorship, a charge $20 per
submission will be charged effective November, 1.

Penny Mac
has updated its group email addresses, effective immediately; email
addresses for the commitment teams in PennyMac Correspondent Group have
changed. Review email groups to establish the old emails that have been retired and a new replacement email established for each.

How ’bout that housing market? Yesterday we learned that Existing Home Sales bounced back in September to 5.17 million,
the highest pace this year. Sales increased everywhere but the Midwest.
The median house price was $209,700, up 5.6% for the year, total
housing inventory fell 1.3% to 2.3 million homes (5.3 month’s supply at
the current pace versus a 6 months’ supply considered “balanced”). All
cash sales fell to 24% in September, down from 33% a year ago and
heading toward the historical norm of 20% cash buyers.

And
this morning we found out, to the surprise of no one, that refinancing
activity surged 23% last week. It helps that mortgage rates dropped to
their lowest level since May 2013. The refi index is at its highest
level since November 2013 and is up to 65% of all apps. Also noted by
the fabled MBA economist Mike Fratantoni was that “the average loan
balance for refinance applications increased to $306,400, the highest
level in the survey’s history” which to many suggests that prepayments
on more recent loans from this year are picking up. Purchases? They
declined, reminding us that we’re in the autumn and winter months when
things scale back.

Yesterday
investors were interested in Mel Watt’s take on reps warrants and
97% LTV loans, along with QRM. On the Ginnie side they were interested
in an announcement by GNMA President Ted Tozer regarding changes to
issuer net worth and liquidity requirements, and a new issuer scorecard.
But none of that really moved rates and at the close the 10-yr was at
2.21% and agency MBS prices were worse nearly .250 in price. This
morning we’ve had the release of September’s Consumer Price Index.
Expected to be unchanged, it was +.1%. As the sun begins to creep over
the mountains near Las Vegas we’re at 2.22% and agency MBS prices are roughly unchanged.

 

 

Jobs

In job news, Stonegate Mortgage Corporation has sales opportunities for two Sales Directors
in the Northwest and Southwest US. “Stonegate seeks talented,
established mortgage TPO sales professionals who have built
relationships with financial institutions and who have proven success of
delivering quality residential loans. The ideal person should live in
Dallas, Houston, Denver, Seattle, Portland or some other location in WA,
OR, No CA, CO, TX, or OK.  Please send confidential correspondence to Missy Dewey by October 28th for consideration.”

Well-known software company Optimal Blue is looking for a Business Development Analyst
to focus on the development and maximization of integrations and
partnerships while “leveraging Optimal Blue’s enterprise mortgage
technology data and solutions to enhance value for existing clients, as
well as explore new market and product opportunities.  This
position will have the opportunity to work within each of the primary
business lines for Optimal Blue, including Product Pricing
Services, Capital Markets Hedge Advisory, Consumer-Direct,
Compliance, and data analytics. Responsibilities include
supporting the development of business strategy, growing
maximizing key partnerships, building business justification
strategic plans (short/long term), interfacing with customers and
product owners, etc. The ideal candidate will have several years of
mortgage industry experience with knowledge of secondary
marketing/capital markets strongly preferred, and a natural aptitude for
strategic planning, financial analysis, capture management and teaming.
Please send all confidential correspondence, or requests for a full job
description, to careers@optimalblue. com.

Lastly, for correspondents out there Endeavor America Loan Services offers something of interest.
“With volumes dipping, partnering with the right investor to offer
additional products is the key to building purchase volume with your
realtor relationships. Endeavor America Loan Services is a direct to
Ginnie Mae seller and servicer that is focused on purchasing correspondent government loans without any overlays. In this highly commoditized loan channel, Endeavor America has chosen to focus its attention on building a best in class service model with average purchase times being under five business days.
Not only does Endeavor America not compete with its clients, it refers
all payoff demand requests back to the original lender who sold the loan
to Endeavor America. Imagine getting a warm lead from the investor who
bought your loan.”

Article source: http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/channels/pipelinepress/10222014-ocwen-elizabeth-warren.aspx

MBS MID-DAY: Back Near Unchanged Levels After Morning Volatility

Here’s a two-part chart that does a nice job of framing today’s activity in both a longer and shorter term perspective. 

2014-10-22 Lever

As you can see, we definitely had some bond-market-specific weakness this morning.  Unfortunately for the sake of accurate analysis, the weakness occurred in close proximity to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data.  This logically resulted in media outlets pinning the weakness on CPI, but the two were completely unrelated.

The factual culprit for this morning’s weakness was a big corporate bond offering from Verizon.  They did the same thing last fall and bond markets took a big, mysterious hit then too (though the past example was a much bigger deal than today’s).  Here’s the coverage from last year’s.

The nice thing about weakness induced by corporate bond offerings is that it’s the sort of thing Treasuries/MBS can get over fairly quickly.  Indeed we find trading levels to have stabilized shortly thereafter and volatility has been decreasing ever since.

Article source: http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/mortgage_rates/blog/400585.aspx

$6.5M Financing Arranged for Multifamily Property

Marcus Millichap Capital Corp. (MMCC) has arranged $6.47 million in financing for the acquisition of The Seacliff, located at 451 San Vicente Blvd. in Santa Monica.

Sharone Sabar, vice president capital markets of Marcus Millichap, arranged the financing for the loan. The five- year term amortizes over 30 years and is fixed at 4.75 percent.

The 20,292-square-foot multifamily property sold in August 2014 for $9.6 million, or $480,000 per unit. The 20-unit apartment complex was built in 1951 and is situated on 0.7 acres. Dean Bloomquist of Delta Commercial Realty represented the sellers, DeHovitz Trust and Seacliff Capo 5 LLC. Jeff Benson of Marcus Millichap represented the buyer, Wilco Holdings LLC.

Please refer to CoStar COMPS #3093754 for more information on this transaction.

Article source: http://www.costar.com/News/Article/$65M-Financing-Arranged-for-Multifamily-Property/165180?ref=/News/Article/$65M-Financing-Arranged-for-Multifamily-Property/165180&src=rss

Carthay Campus Sold for $75.3M


Santa Monica-based REIT Douglas Emmett, Inc. acquired Carthay Campus at 6310-6330 San Vicente Blvd. in Los Angeles, CA for $75.3 million, or approximately $351 per square foot, from Cambra Realty.

Carthay Campus is comprised of two five-story office buildings connected by a park. The properties total 214,519 square feet, and were 86 percent leased at the time of sale.

Reportedly both parties handled the sale in-house.

Please refer to CoStar COMPS #3140497 for more information related to this transaction.

Article source: http://www.costar.com/News/Article/Carthay-Campus-Sold-for-$753M/165155?ref=/News/Article/Carthay-Campus-Sold-for-$753M/165155&src=rss

Paseo Colorado Bldg Sold for $36.4M


China-based 21st Century Techbanq Pasadena LLC purchased the Paseo Colorado at 234 E. Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena, CA for $36.4 million, or roughly $296 per square foot, from Embarcadero Capital Partners LLC.

Built in 1924 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the nine-story office building totals 123,110 square feet. The asset was 96 percent leased at the time of sale.

Bob Safai and Matt Case of Madison Partners represented the seller. Tenny Tsai, Danny Vu, Suzanne Lee and Jake Dederer of Cassidy Turley represented the buyer.

Please refer to CoStar COMPS #3133138 for more information related to this transaction.

Article source: http://www.costar.com/News/Article/Paseo-Colorado-Bldg-Sold-for-$364M/165207?ref=/News/Article/Paseo-Colorado-Bldg-Sold-for-$364M/165207&src=rss

At Banfi Winery, Tuscan Meets Tudor

The Mariani family’s Banfi Vintners headquarters on Long Island was created from a rundown, 40,000-square-foot manor, built in 1927.

Family members, from left, Cristina Mariana-May, Robert Whiting, Virginia Mariani and James Mariani in the former chapel room, now an office. Banfi was started in 1919 by John Mariani Sr. and his three brothers in New York’s Little Italy.

The 400-square-foot wine cellar, empty when they bought the house, now holds 6,000 bottles of wine, including some large-format bottles of Super Tuscans and Brunellos that date to the 1970s.

A sitting room is shown. John Mariani Jr. tapped the late interior designer Mark Hampton, who specialized in English country décor, to redecorate. The house is furnished in an eclectic mix of European antiques—Chippendale, Queen Anne, Italian Renaissance—many gathered by Mr. Mariani on his trips abroad, combined with modern touches.

The dining room at the mansion headquarters.

The former chapel room.

The building contains Scalamandre carpets, tapestries from Harvey Firestone’s estate auction and dining chairs covered in the official fabric of the Medici family, a Missoni-like zigzag.

In 1982, Banfi moved its offices into the estate. There have been some updates since. What had been a billiards room when Rynwood was a residence is now a boardroom where, next to a 7th-century Tuscan table and 8th-century Tuscan chairs, is a 90-inch television.

The vineyard on the 52-acre property is primarily used for educational purposes.

Seven members of the Mariani family still run the business. They won’t discuss the cost of renovating Rynwood. Instead, Mr. Whiting tells inquirers, ‘We bought it for a reasonable price and spent a lot of money restoring it.’

As with good wine, it takes time, skill—and some luck—to uncork the potential of a piece of real estate, but the Mariani family of winemakers is well schooled in patience and persistence.

In 1980, John Mariani Jr., now chairman emeritus of Banfi Vintners, arrived at a 40,000-square-foot, Tudor-style mansion on Long Island’s North Shore, known then as Rynwood. It was no Gatsby manor. The home hadn’t been lived in for 17 years and had most recently been used as a decorators’ showcase. The original oak paneling was slathered in epoxy paint, wooden floors were cloaked in vinyl tile and walls were covered in hand-painted murals. Outside, plants were overgrown and the hand-cut limestone was filthy.

“The ivy was 4 feet thick on the walls,” said Mr. Mariani’s nephew,

Robert Whiting,

director of estate and vineyard for Banfi.

Banfi maintains some vines on the Long Island property for educational purposes.
ENLARGE

Most people wouldn’t have envisioned corporate headquarters, said Mr. Mariani’s daughter and the company’s chief executive,

Cristina Mariani-May.

“My father saw the unkempt beauty of the house—all its potential.”

What her father had to work with was a 63-room house, with 13 bedrooms and 13 bathrooms, plus outbuildings on the estate’s 52 acres that included a teahouse, dovecote, men’s and women’s bathhouses, and a gatehouse.

Ms. Mariani-May lives in a house her husband built on an adjoining property. “My kids ride their bikes back and forth,” she said.

Banfi was started in 1919 by John Mariani Sr. and his three brothers in New York’s Little Italy. They imported wines from Italy, Germany and France. The company was named for Mr. Mariani’s aunt, Teodolinda Banfi, who, according to family lore, worked as Pope Pius XI’s head of household staff, selecting wines for the Vatican. The company survived Prohibition by making medicinal Amaro, Italian bitters purported to have stomach-soothing properties.

The vintners filled a once-empty manor wine cellar with 6,000 bottles of wine.
ENLARGE

Banfi grew in the 1960s and 1970s, importing middle class-friendly Riunite and making less acidic versions of traditional Italian wines on their 7,000 acres in Tuscany.

By then, John Jr. had assumed operations and was on the search for Long Island headquarters that evoked the villas and châteaus in which business was done abroad.

Rynwood fit. It was built in 1927 by

Sir Samuel Agar Salvage,

an English knight who made his fortune in the textile business. “In the 1920s when you made a lot of money you got yourself a little cottage on the North Shore,” said Mr. Whiting.

The property had belonged to several members of the gentry. In 1960,

Frederick William Irving Lundy,

who owned the original Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, restaurant Lundy’s, bought the house.

“In the 17 years he owned it he never once stayed overnight,” said Mr. Whiting. Mr. Lundy used it for his collections, including four grand pianos (none of which he played) and the fence that once surrounded the Coney Island Steeplechase.

A former chapel room has been turned into an office for John Mariani Jr., the chairman emeritus. The Mariani family, from left: Cristina Mariani-May, Bob Whiting, Virginia Mariani and James Mariani.
ENLARGE

Mr. Lundy died in 1977 and his estate put the then-dilapidated house up for sale. The only offer came from a developer who wanted to raze it and build 26 homes. The mayor at the time, S. Reed Anthony, was married to the daughter of the original owners. “He didn’t want his wife’s childhood home destroyed,” said Mr. Whiting, so he brought John Jr. to see it.

By 1981, Banfi had purchased the home and had started the restoration. It took one year and 200 employees, including Mr. Whiting. He moved into the estate’s 1,400-square-foot gatehouse to oversee the restoration. He still lives there part time.

In the main house, they replaced wiring, ripped out coal furnaces to upgrade to oil, and had slate roof tiles custom cut to fit a graduated pattern. They cleaned and repointed thousands of limestone blocks. It took six months and five men to just to strip the paint in the living room. “One guy spent a month using toothpicks to get the paint out,” said Mr. Whiting.

The 400-square-foot wine cellar, empty when they bought the house, needed less work. It now holds 6,000 bottles of wines, including some large format bottles of Super Tuscans and Brunellos that date to the 1970s.

A sitting room in Banfi headquarters.
ENLARGE

Mr. Mariani tapped interior designer

Mark Hampton,

who specialized in English country décor, to redecorate. The house is furnished in an eclectic mix of European antiques—Chippendale, Queen Anne, Italian Renaissance—many gathered by Mr. Mariani on his trips abroad, with a few modern touches. There are Scalamandre carpets, tapestries from Harvey Firestone’s estate auction, and dining chairs covered in the official fabric of the Medici family, a Missoni-like zigzag.

A few touches of the decorators’ showcase remain. Local art teacher

Charlie Morrongiello

—Mr. Whiting’s former high-school instructor—painted a black-and-white mural of African animals on the walls of the garage, which they chose to keep.

In 1982, Banfi moved its offices into the estate. There have been some updates since. What had been a billiards room when Rynwood was a residence is now a boardroom where, next to a seventh-century Tuscan table and eighth-century Tuscan chairs, is a 90-inch television. “I’d like a take a baseball bat to that,” Mr. Whiting admitted.

Seven members of the family still run the business. They won’t discuss the cost of saving Rynwood. Instead Mr. Whiting tells inquirers, “We bought it for a reasonable price and spent a lot of money restoring it.”

Corrections Amplifications

In an early version of this article, the size of the manor was incorrectly given as 4,000 square feet. It is 40,000 square feet.

Article source: http://online.wsj.com/articles/at-banfi-winery-tuscan-meets-tudor-1413473938?mod=residential_real_estate