Monthly Archives: November 2010

Astorino Answers Budget Questions From Bedford NY Voters | Bedford NY Real Estate

County Executive Rob Astorino was peppered with questions about his proposed $1.78 billion 2011 budget at Monday night’s Bedford Armonk Rotary meeting, even as he was exiting the room to attend another community meeting in Somers.

Though the atmosphere was not as charged as previously held public hearings on the budget, attendees challenged Astorino on several proposed cuts—including reductions in child care subsidies and the elimination of $1.3 million in funds to the Cornell Cooperative Extension—and demanded explanations on costs associated with employee contracts.

Astorino’s proposed operating budget calls for a decrease in spending of $33 million from the $1.819 billion budget of 2010. If no cuts were made, this year’s budget would have increased by a projected $116 million. When crafting the budget, he and his staff focused on providing essential services, he said.

Approximately 85 people attended the meeting, hosted by the recently formed Bedford Armonk Rotary Club and held at St. Matthew’s Church in Bedford.

Astorino presented his plan in broad strokes and outlined major cost increases expected in employee health care costs and pensions—they’ll go from $55 million to $163 million in four years, he said.

“We’re only one of four counties in the state where the employees pay nothing toward their health insurance. You—all of you in this room—pay 100 percent of county health care costs,” said Astorino.

He was asked about the current terms of the Civil Service Employees Association contract. “The CSEA contract is in year five of six,” he said. “They got a four percent increase this year, plus step and longevity increases, so it’s like a six percent increase in some cases,” he said.

He added that, if the contract expired and new terms had not been negotiated, the four percent increase remained. According to state law, health care costs can be negotiated but pensions are constitutionally guaranteed.

His budget proposal includes laying off 226 workers from county positions to save money. Buyouts would be given to 465 additional workers and 14 positions that are currently vacant would be eliminated from the budget—combined, the reductions represent about a 12 percent workforce reduction.

In addition to cutting positions, Astorino’s budget eliminates millions of dollars in social services and non-profits (explained further here), including cuts to the Cornell Cooperative Extension office in Valhalla, through which community education on nutrition, agriculture, sustainability, emergency preparedness and gardening takes place in partnership with Cornell University.

The county contribution equals about one-fourth of the total funding to run the program—if made, state and federal funds make up the rest.

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Ideas For Adding A New Bathroom In Katonah NY | Katonah NY Real Estate

So you’re thinking about adding another bathroom to your home. There are many reasons to contemplate this project, ranging from an elderly parent moving in, to your teenagers’ constant fights over the current bathroom, to wanting more space to accommodate guests. Whatever your reasons, adding a bathroom will enhance your home’s resale value and provide increased comfort and convenience in the short term. 

According to a 2003 cost-versus-value report from Remodeling magazine, you could make up to 94 percent of your investment back on a $15,000 mid-range bathroom addition. That is even more than the 80 percent this report cites for a major kitchen remodeling job. 

Finding Space in Your Existing Home 

The good news is that most homes offer sufficient space for another bathroom. The first thing to do is scour your home for possible locations; you’d be surprised at how much extra space you have in your house if you’d just look for it. Consider the basement, attic, under the hallway stairs, an enclosed porch or even an empty corner of an existing room. Maybe you would even be willing to give up a linen closet or space in a guest bedroom to accommodate a new bathroom. Look around and see what is available and what makes sense. 

Planning the Room 

Once you’ve taken the plunge and decided to move ahead with the room, start by checking your local building codes to determine minimum room size. In general, a powder room should be at least 18 square feet, a bathroom with a shower no smaller than 30 square feet, while a room with both a shower and tub should be no less than 35 square feet. You will also need the proper permits from your city before beginning the job. 

Next, get a feel for the room by using masking tape to lay out where the fixtures will be located. A standard size toilet is usually 30 inches in width with a clearance of two feet in front. Don’t forget to map out the sink area and a tub or shower if that is in the plan, too. 

If the new space you have targeted shares a wall with an existing bathroom or kitchen, you can save hundreds of dollars by not having to extend the plumbing, according to Garry Gage, a 20-year West coast plumbing veteran and consultant for FlowGuard Gold pipe and fittings. “Plumbing also will be less expensive if the area beneath the new bath is a basement or crawlspace without any obstructions,” says Gage. 

Another tip for keeping the plumbing costs low is to locate the room as close as possible to the main waste drain, or the stack. Gage also advises homeowners to ensure that all drains are vented by routing them to an exterior wall or the roof to prevent sewer gas from entering the house. 

Most critical is to ensure that the area is structurally sound, especially in an older home where floor joists may need reinforcement in the process of adding the bath.


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Asbestos May Lurk in Your Attic in Armonk NY | Armonk NY Real Estate

WASHINGTON (Nov. 29) — Americans living in millions of homes will soon crawl into their attics to collect their holiday decorations. With those colorful lights and ornaments could come invisible and deadly asbestos fibers that decades from now may destroy or end the lives of some of the celebrants. For years the government has known that the attics and walls of as many as 35 million homes and businesses are insulated with Zonolite, which contains lethal asbestos-tainted vermiculite. Some medical authorities believe that people are still dying because of it. Paul Kitagaki Jr. with permission of the Seattle Post-Inteligencer Ten years ago, then EPA investigator Keven McDermott crawled through an attic in Manchester, Wash., confirming the presence of 130 bags of asbestos-containing Zonolite insulation. “Based on my experience, and my understanding of the residential and worker exposures to the asbestos in this insulation, I believe firmly that individuals are being sickened and even dying from these exposures across the country on a continuing basis,” said Dr. Aubrey Miller, who was medical director for the EPA team that was sent to the remote town of Libby, Mont., in 1999 to investigate reports of hundreds of deaths and illnesses with asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. More than 400 deaths have been attributed to exposure to vermiculite in the community in which it was mined, and a litany of solid scientific studies has shown that it can kill. Yet AOL News has documented that the government has steadfastly refused even to issue widespread warnings to the public about the dangers of a product that was became a popular insulation in the 1940s and continued to be installed in U.S. homes through the 1990s.

The tale of this confirmed killer includes political intrigue, White House intervention, industry meddling and the failure of three Environmental Protection Agency administrators to act on their promises. In This Series Part 1: Government Refuses to Act on Cancer-Causing Insulation Madison Square Garden Case Illustrates Paranoia What to Do If You Have Zonolite Insulation Part 2: Cancer Patient’s Home a ‘Living Laboratory’ for Deadly Fibers Part 3: ‘In Libby, There Was No Maybe’ About Dangers Part 4: Asbestos Dangers Known Centuries Ago, but Battle Continues When asked what they’ve done to alert the public, EPA officials repeatedly point to the vermiculite page on the agency’s website, which even many inside the agency say is inadequate. W. R. Grace & Co., which produced the vermiculite ore used in the insulation, continues to insist that the insulation is safe and presents no health risk to homeowners.

Zonolite insulation hasn’t been sold for years, but experts fear its dangers may be more acute today than ever. They worry about the spread of asbestos contamination in aging homes containing this insulation. And they fear that government-funded plans to weatherize millions of homes will increase the likelihood of exposure among installers and residents. While the threat exists all year, every year until the Zonolite is removed, experts like Miller believe the potential for exposure to the asbestos is greatest during the holidays. He and other researchers from the EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have learned from homeowners that while they may go up to their attics occasionally during the year, holidays almost always necessitate climbing the attic stairs. Miller told AOL News that decorations, coils of lights, artificial wreaths and trees may have become the resting place for asbestos-laden dust over the years. He said he can only imagine how much asbestos has collected in the fake trees and wreaths. But he’s worried most about exposure to the younger children. “It’s particularly important to understand the risks for children who have higher breathing rates and will inhale more of the fibers,” said Miller, a father of two. “Children, especially young ones, tend to spend much of their time on the floor playing with the ornaments and toys, breathing the asbestos-contaminated dust, and have many years for the asbestos fibers that lodge in their lungs to eventually cause disease.” Dangers Widespread For decades, the Grace mine, six miles from Libby, was the source of more than 70 percent of the world’s vermiculite, and geologists say almost all was heavily contaminated with an exceptionally virulent type of cancer-causing asbestos. U.S.Geological Service This shows 1,000-times magnification of needlelike asbestos fibers that contaminate the vermiculite ore from Libby, Mont. These are the same fibers released when Zonolite insulation is even gently disturbed.

No one even knows how many people with lung disease are made ill because of exposure to the tainted vermiculite because most physicians — especially those who are not occupational medicine specialists — rarely probe their patients beyond the traditional question of whether they’d ever worked with asbestos. Since 1999, Miller, Chris Weis, who was EPA’s lead forensic toxicologist on the Libby team, and many of their colleagues have worked closely with the victims of vermiculite and their survivors. They and other government scientists collected more evidence than they wanted showing that exposure to the asbestos in the insulation can trigger a 20-year or longer path to eventual disease and death for those who disturb and then breathe in the cancer-causing fibers. They have fought for years to get the government to disclose the risk to home and business owners throughout the country who have no clue that they may be living with a potentially lethal product. But they were far from alone in calling for highly publicized government warnings. Then and now, union health and safety personnel expressed concern for their members who crawl in and around attics and ceilings doing renovations and stringing telephone, television and Internet cables.

“I am amazed and appalled that nothing has happened,” Joel Shufro, executive director of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, told AOL News last week. “Given the tremendous government-funded winterization programs, we can expect exposure to workers to increase as they disturb the old asbestos-carrying insulations,” he said. It was at least eight years ago when NYCOSH — a nonprofit coalition of 200 unions and hundreds of health and safety activists — first pleaded for the government to pay attention. “Failure of the government to inform workers and others who may be exposed to this hazard is incorrigible. This is a well-known, aggressive carcinogen and unless people know about it, it’s a prescription for death,” Shufro said. Spreading From Libby to the Rest of U.S. The vermiculite ore pulled from the Grace mine was laced with naturally occurring tremolite, one of the most toxic of six forms of asbestos regulated by the government. Interviews and medical records showed that asbestos first killed miners and then their wives and children and then others just living in Libby. More than 400 deaths have been blamed on the asbestos-fouled vermiculite. Government medical testing found that more than a thousand more had signs of asbestos-related disease. But that was just among people living in and near that corner of Montana. Andrew Schneider for AOL News The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tracked shipments to vermiculite, used in Zonolite insulation, from Libby, Mont., to all over the world.How did this dangerous product get into so many homes so far from Libby? The government analyzed invoices and shipping papers of the massive building-products and chemical multinational. It found that Grace shipped by rail and road 15.6 billion pounds of the identical cancer-causing mineral that spawned the carnage in Libby to more than 750 plants and factories throughout North America.

There the flat, silky smooth, raw vermiculite rock went through high-temperature ovens to pop or exfoliate the ore into popcorn-weight fluff that was then bagged and sold by Grace and hundreds of home- and builder-supply outlets as insulation. Sometimes it was used in scores of other products, such as fertilzer, pool lining, garden additives, potting soil enhancers, cat litter and faux ambers for gas fireplaces. “There are millions, likely tens of millions of homes in the United States probably contaminated with this [lethal] material. The inventories show it was pretty much distributed from coast to coast, most heavily across the tier of Northern states — New England, the upper Midwest and the Northwest — and in all likelihood, it’s still there,” toxicologist Weis said. Agency statisticians geographically plotted sales of Libby vermiculite and showed it went into homes at least as far south as Jacksonville, Fla., and deep into the northern portions of the Canadian provinces. Sales were highest from Grace’s national network of processing plants. The threat may be even more pressing today because the potential for hazard is increasing as the homes containing this insulation age. “They’re being renovated. New wiring is being put in as the aging wiring becomes unsafe. Internet wiring and cabling is being installed in these attics, as well as exhaust fans and various type of winterization,” said Weis, who is now senior toxicologist with the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. “All of this activity — even the most gentle action — disturbs the asbestos, endangering not only the workers but spreading it though the homes,” he added. But even if the attics are well sealed off from the rest of the house, the EPA and its outside asbestos consultants have found asbestos-contaminated vermiculite dust seeping through wall switches, ceiling-light fixtures and fans and sometimes through the dried-out joint tape in ceilings and walls. “If I had Zonolite in my house I would want to know it, and if I knew it, I would do everything I could to get it out of there,” said Paul Peronard, who headed the EPA’s cleanup of Libby

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The Marketing and Selling Process in Pound Ridge NY | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Comprehensive Market Analysis in Pricing Your Home

 Property Specific Marketing of Your Home
All the Benefits of Our Rock Solid Alliance with Prudential
Consumers do not look to a single source to purchase a home. They are researching and shopping on the internet, in local papers and the real estate sections of a vast array of publications. Prudential Holmes and Kennedy’s proprietary marketing model surrounds the consumer with our property listings from traditional print media, public relations and direct mail to superior internet exposure. Our ongoing commitment ensures your property will be previewed in a consumer’s initial search, leading to a personal showing where your Prudential Holmes & Kennedy REALTOR will bring all your property’s unique features to life.

The most important factor to consider when choosing a real estate firm to represent your home is to find a firm with significant experience in selling comparable property. Our marketing model directs the most potential buyers to personally preview your home. Any REALTOR can promise you an ad in the local paper, but our experience has shown that full exposure of your property in multiple mediums is the best way to reach the largest potential buyer pool.

Internet Marketing

Over 80% of homebuyers begin their search on the internet.

Prudential Tri-State Connection

No other brokerage in Northern Westchester can claim our unique affiliation with our Tri-State partners. Others may have offices throughout the county, but no one else has their own website, joint marketing, tri-state co-brokerage groups and networking events. Even our tri-state relocation directors meet quarterly. is the gateway to over 100,000 current property listings within the 100-mile radius of Midtown Manhattan.  In 2004, the Prudential Tri-state group concluded 21 Billion Dollars in sales with 47,000 transactions.  As part of the Prudential Tri-state group, we are linked to:

Prudential Douglas-Elliman in New York City  
Prudential Douglas-Elliman in Long Island
Prudential Connecticut
Prudential New Jersey
Relocation Services

Prudential Relocation is a leading provider of global mobility, creating a constant flow of home buyer traffic in and out of our Westchester market.
Referral Services

Our affiliation has a membership of over 2000 offices and over 64,000 real estate professionals throughout the United States and Canada.  The Prudential referral program maximizes lead opportunities by supporting broker-to-broker activity.

Multiple Listing Services (MLS)

Founded in 1916, the Westchester County Board of REALTORS®, Inc. (WCBR Inc.) is a not-for-profit trade association representing more than 7,000 real estate professionals doing business in Westchester County and the surrounding region.  WCBR owns and operates the Westchester-Putnam Multiple Listing Service, Inc. a corporation that manages a large database of available properties listed by REALTORS®.

The term REALTOR® is a registered mark. It refers only to those licensed real estate brokers and salespersons that hold membership in a REALTOR® organization such as ours, who agree to be held accountable to a strict Code of Ethics and who also agree to periodic ethics education and other professional instruction that is required by the Board.

 Direct Mail – Published by Prudential Holmes & Kennedy

The Holmes Report
Quarterly Reports
Residence Guide
Just Listed Cards


A detailed, four-color brochure ensures that prospective buyers, open house visitors and cooperating agents will recall the critical features of your property long after they have viewed your home.  It is displayed in the home, in our office lobbies, used for special mailings and sent to out-of-town prospects.


Our experts will developed a high impact print media advertising plan identifying selected media vehicles that present your home to target buyers.  Our affiliation with Prudential extends our advertising strength.  Its network members spend millions of dollars each year placing advertising in the most prestigious publications and on high profile television stations to promote brand awareness.

Yard Signs

A 24 hour marketing tool that attracts the attention of prospective buyers.

Broker and Public Open Houses

An invitation to the Broker and public communities to view your property without an appointment or obligation to buy.  Open houses are announced via print media and on various websites such as: MLS,, and

Additional Marketing Activities

Introduce the Property to Fellow Agents

Provide a Secure Lockbox for your Home
Follow-up with Buyers and Agents
Educate You to the Real Estate Market
Arrange Showings
Pre-screen potential buyers
Attend Inspections on your Behalf
 Provide Home Warranty Options
Present, Evaluate and Negotiate Offers
Prepare and Distribute Required Documentation
Resolve Seller/Buyer Conflicts
Coordinate Repairs
Facilitate Closing and Transfer of Property

Chappaqua Tree Lighting December 4th at Greely House | Chappaqua NY Real Estate

 During the holidays, the inclination is often to
search out the biggest, the best, the most
spectacular places and events in order to make a
memory, whether it’s a tree lighting, a performance
of “The Nutcracker,” or a chance to learn more about
the meaning of Hanukkah .

And while you might think that creating holiday
traditions like these involves a trip out of town,
chances are you can find everything you’re looking
for right in your own backyard.

So this season, plan a trip to a local landmark
you’ve never visited, or book tickets to a holiday
show or concert in town.

We’ve rounded up lots of options that will let you
spend a happy holiday at home, starting with the
annual tree lighting at Chappaqua’s Horace Greeley
House, an occasion that includes a concert, and
then, a parade, of all things.

If you’re in the mood for some old-fashioned
Christmas cheer, don’t miss the annual holiday tree
lighting Dec. 4 at the Horace Greeley House in

There’s singing, crafts, period decorations — even a
parade of sorts.

The annual event draws a crowd, says Betsy Towl,
the executive director of the New Castle Historical

“This is such a long standing tradition in
Chappaqua; it really brings the community together.
We have children of all ages, who come for the open
house, but the tree lighting is the big event,” Towl

The New Castle Historical Society, which uses the
house as its headquarters, has organized a full
afternoon of festivities, starting at 1 p.m. with an
Old-Fashioned Craft Workshop (for children) and
Open House.

 Docents will be on hand to lead tours of the fully
decorated historic house, which was Greeley’s
weekend and summer home from 1864 until his
death in 1872.

At 3:30 p.m., the Chappaqua Orchestra will host the
annual New Castle Community Sing, a combination
variety show-singalong, at the nearby Robert E. Bell
Middle School.

Then everyone walks over to the Greeley House for a
few more songs by the Madrigal Singers, a coed
choral group at Horace Greeley High School.

The switch to light the 35-foot-tall Colorado spruce
gets flipped at 4:30 p.m., followed by a visit from

Then everyone heads across the street to the New
Castle Community Center for homemade cookies and
hot chocolate, courtesy of the New Castle Teen

And when you’re finished ogling the tree, head back

The Horace Greeley House has a charming little gift
shop with holiday gifts and ornaments.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? And it’s all free and open
to the public.

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7 Ways to Save Closet Space in Chappaqua NY | Chappaqua NY Real Estate

In cold or messy weather, the coat closet may be the first thing visitors see. Yet many entryway closets are not a welcoming sight. In addition to coats, these closets are often crammed with everything from luggage and laundry to vacuum cleaners and sports gear — leaving you afraid to even open the door. Fear not: your overstuffed closet is not a lost cause. Clear the clutter with these clever organization ideas:

1. Use every inch of space. The coat closet is often the most under-utilized and overstuffed space in the house. “To make a typical coat closet more efficient you should remove the existing rod and shelf,” advises California Closets designer Lisa Lennard. This will make use of space that was dead before. “Then measure your longest coat and add two or three inches,” she instructs. “Reinstall the hanger rod at this lower height. In most cases, there will be room for two or three shelves above it where you can put baskets or boxes for small items.”

2. Double up. If your closet is wide enough, Lisa suggests installing a double closet rod. Hanging a second rod below the existing one will enable you to store another level of clothes, such as shorter jackets. Make sure to allow at least 36 inches between the top and bottom rod. An easy drill-free approach to achieving a double-hanging system is to use hanging rods that hook over existing rails. These nifty rods provide instant space for short-hanging clothes (Double hang closet rod, $10; The Container Store).

3. Make room for drawers. Remove the top shelf and raise the existing closet rod to uncover valuable vertical storage. In the space below the rod, install a chest of drawers for storing small items. Hang jackets or sweaters you’re using regularly on the rod above the chest. Longer coats, such as trench coats, can hang to the side of the small chest. Reserve the floor space below for weather boots.

No room for a chest of drawers? Buy a set of hanging canvas shelves. They are perfect for stowing everything from gloves and scarves in winter to sandals and caps in summer.

4. Purge. Determine clothing and accessories you wear and items that you need to give away. You can save more than a foot of space by donating three old winter coats. That’s enough space to install modular storage cubes, which can store gloves, scarves, and mittens.

5. Think outside the closet. Place a coat tree or a wall-mounted rack in your entryway for the outerwear you use every day. These organizers are great for grab-and-go items, such as jackets, scarves, umbrellas and hats.

6. Invest in space savers. Install an inexpensive over-the-door shoe organizer to store small winter necessities like gloves, earmuffs and knit caps. You can also keep keys, wallets, lint brushes and flashlights in this handy organizer.

7. Rotate seasonal clothes. In the spring, move winter coats to other storage places, such as less crowded closets, underbed storage units and unused suitcases. This will make way for lighter jackets, sweaters, warm-weather sports equipment and beach gear. The same goes for footwear: the boots of winter should give way to the sandals of summer. You can also try your local dry cleaner for more storage options. Many store out-of-season garments as a part of their service to customers.

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New Home Sales Down 80% From 2005 High | Bedford NY Homes

NEW YORK ( — Don’t look to the new home market for glad economic tidings: Home builders had another dismal sales month in October, falling to just one-fifth of the sales rate during the boom five years ago.

New home sales dropped to an annual pace of just 283,000, according to the Commerce Department. That was down 8.1% from a slow September and 28.5% from 12 months ago when the annualized sales rate was at 430,000.

“The new home market delivered another turkey of a performance last month,” said Mike Larson, a housing market analyst with Weiss Research. “Sales fell sharply across most of the country.”

Sales are off nearly 80% from the housing boom peak pace of 1.4 million, set in July 2005. Sales have remained near historic lows this year despite very attractive mortgage interest rates that slash the monthly costs of homeownership.

The Commerce Department also revised August sales figures downward to 275,000, which represents the record low point for new homes sales since it started tracking figures in 1963.

There’s a major factor depressing home sales of all kinds, according to David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders.

“We’re fallen significantly in the number of people forming their own households,” he said. “They’re worried about the economy and they’re worried about their jobs.”

Usually, household formation rises 1% a year or more as people get married, come to the states from overseas, and start careers.

But the poor economy has meant that many grads can’t find jobs, and so they move in with parents instead or double up with peers. Fewer immigrants arrive and couples delay marriage. All of those things diminish home sales.

When people do look for homes, they find a glut of existing homes competing with new homes for sale, according to Larson.

“So much bargain-priced, ‘used’ home inventory is available that the builders just can’t compete,” he said. “Over time, we’ll work through that mountain of existing home supply. But the key words are ‘over time.’ New home builders won’t have much to be thankful about any time soon.

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Pound Ridge NY Weekend Real Estate Update | Pound Ridge NY Real Estate

83 homes for sale

Low price $380,000

High Price $10,000,000

Median price $999,000

Average size 4129 square feet

Average price $360/ foot

Average DOM 145 days



Call Robert Paul for your market update 914-325-5758.

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Bedford Hills NY Real Estate Market Report | November 2010 | RobReportBlog

Bedford Hills NY Homes reports forty-one (41) homes are for sale in Bedford Hills NY. Prices range from a low of $375,000 to a high of $8,900,000. The Median Price of a Bedford Hills NY Home is $740,000. The average home is 3804 square feet, has been on the market 176 days and is asking $403 per foot.

Over the last three months five (5) Bedford Hills NY Homes have sold. The market is flat compared to 2009. The low price of a sold home is $392,000 and the high priced of a sold home is $3,325,000. The Median Price of a sold Bedford Hills NY Home is $510,000. The average sold home is 2576 square feet, takes 123 days to sell, sells for $335 per foot and 95.20% of asking.

In 2009 five (5) Bedford NY Homes sold over the same three month period. The low price was $205,000 and the high price $840,000. The Median Price of a sold 2009 Bedford Hills NY Home was $400,000. The average sold home in 2009 was 1919 square feet, sold in 105 days, sold at $227 per foot and 88.33% of asking price.

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