As he tries to rescue the country from an economic and housing crisis, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is getting a firsthand lesson in the volatility of the real estate market.
Geithner, now living in Washington, is trying to sell his five-bedroom Tudor home in the New York City suburbs, and it looks like he'll be taking a loss even if he gets his asking price.
The house, which has a Larchmont mailing address but is just outside that village in the town of Mamaroneck, is listed at $1.635 million. Records show Geithner and his wife, Carole Sonnenfeld Geithner, paid a little less than that when they bought it in 2004 -- $1.602 million.
After their agent's fee and land transfer taxes, the Geithners will probably clear less than what they paid, said real estate agent Debbie Meiliken of Coldwell Banker in Scarsdale, who is among the agents showing the house to potential buyers.
Geithner was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York when President Obama picked him to be Treasury Secretary in the midst of a worsening recession.
Had the Geithners been selling in 2006 or 2007, the house, which sits on less than a fifth of an acre of land, might have gone for $1.8 to $2 million, Meiliken said.
Property taxes on the home total $27,039 a year.
Scott Stiefvater, an agent in nearby Pelham not involved with the Geithner house, said prices in lower Westchester County, which includes such wealthy suburbs as Scarsdale, Bronxville and Larchmont, peaked in the 2005-2007 period. Sales have slowed to such a point that there's not enough evidence to show how far prices have fallen since then, he said.
It's definitely a buyer's market. "People are making offers that are 20 to 30 percent below the asking price," Stiefvater said.
In Westchester overall, median prices fell 11 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007 and the same period a year later.
Nationwide, the Commerce Department reported last month that median sale prices fell a record 9.9 percent, to $201,100, between December and January.
According to the Geithners' real estate listing, the house at 32 Maple Hill Drive was built in 1931. It has four full bathrooms, one half-bath, a fireplace, a patio, a lawn sprinkler system, an alarm system and a finished basement.
Meiliken said the Giethners, who have two children in high school, have "priced to sell," listing their house below other similar homes.
"He wants to sell it fast," she said. "He's moving to Washington."
Mamaroneck, on the Long Island Sound, has a population of about 29,000. It is home to the Winged Foot Golf Club, a frequent site of professional championships, and is a major yachting center.