Penthouse Plunge: The Penthouse is Finally SOLD and CLOSED

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1 Kings 10:7: “And behold, the half was not told me.” *

I bet you thought my last Penthouse Plunge column was the last. I had that hope, too. But just as it took me two months to close this deal when I was the buyer, it equally took two months to close as the seller. Karma? Kismet? Bookends? Rotten luck?

Back in those cheery wistful days of early July, I thought I had a cash offer that would close in 10 days. Turned out the buyer wasn’t the buyer but would be the occupant. The buyer was a foreign estate who at the last minute called off the original closing so they can set up a trust for the property to reside in (international tax stuff).

That was about five weeks’ worth of delays. Then another legal issue (for them, never me) cropped up and forced a delay of another two weeks – at which point I reminded the estate’s attorney that the other buyers who submitted a contract had not only purchased and closed on another property, but had moved in as well. Then I got a call a few days before that expiration date to say there was more time needed.

I blew a medium gasket and said the trust’s issues weren’t mine and that I’d been a good egg, but it was time to get the deal done. And so, with trust issues in flux, the estate closed on the sale last Friday (the day that went from heaven to hell as I arrived home to read about the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg). At some point in the future they will transfer the property into their trust – nothing to do with me.



During the past two months, the buyer/occupant wanted changes to the unit that, in good faith, I’d been working on – with the confidence of a lot (a lot) – of non-refundable earnest money. Since those changes made the unit less sellable, I also required monies to undo the changes – the unit is now essentially one-bedroom with a walled-in kitchen.

You see, I’d never met an arty buyer before. Wherever there could be a wall, there was a new wall – to display art. For me, art has its place, but it’s not the raison d’etre of my life or design aesthetic. It’s the “cherry on top” not the ice cream. When I get around to renovating my side, the kitchens and bathrooms will be my “ice cream.”

On a funny note, given there are just five units on this penthouse level and now two of the owners are gay men, this floor 40 is now percent gay. 

Newly sanded brass-inlay parquet floors – stunning.

Anyway, those changes also collided with a contractor shortage because as I predicted, home renovation has gone into high-gear as people have looked at their homes during the pandemic and found them wanting. For example, getting floors sanded used to be a week to schedule, now it’s running about six weeks – and don’t get me started on electricians who are harder to find than sanity in 2020.

So there have been delays everywhere which means the unit still isn’t done-done (monies were escrowed for the finish). As it stands, it’s down to painting walls, staining floors and getting kitchen counters and appliances in. Thankfully, none of that job scheduling is horribly backlogged.

Leaving an Easter Egg

With this owner’s requirement to enclose the kitchen, whomever owns the unit after him will have an Easter egg. A void was created in a wall as a result of the peninsula being shrunk. If that next owner wants to open the kitchen, all the cabinets, trim pieces and end panels are waiting inside the void to “complete” the peninsula. All they’ll need are new countertops and it’ll feel like a whole new kitchen. I’m a bit tickled at leaving a walled-up surprise.

eBaying My Own Eggs

During my wait to close, I’ve been plotting my own renovations – starting with a functional master bathroom. I’ve been sourcing tile around the world – and cursing Trump for the 30 percent tariff on marble imports paid by ME, the US-citizen buyer. I’ve also been helping a friend with her own build-out (mostly slapping her hand when she spends too much – as I was asked to do).

While shopping for her at a plumbing showroom, I casually mentioned to the salesperson that I planned to use Dornbracht’s (~$1,300) Supernova faucet in my master bathroom – I’d gotten one for ~$500 in a backroom sale. I was told Supernova had been discontinued. Yikes! I needed two.

Dornbracht confirmed the bad news. There were none on eBay. I tried to buy a display model but was told that while I could retrofit it to working order, it might leak.  I resigned myself to using Dornbracht’s Deque (had one earmarked for the guest bathroom) – Dornbracht said that was discontinued along with Supernova.  

Lo and behold, a Supernova popped up on eBay for $399. I couldn’t hit the “buy it now” button quick enough – now I have two for less than the price of one, whenever I get going on the bathroom – which given tariffs, I may wait until next year for when hopefully the tariffs (and other things) go away.  

Days later, a Dornbracht Giorno popped into eBay for $175. I used Giorno in my Athena renovation and always liked its swoopy lines. I didn’t need it, but for $175 (originally $1,600) I bought it too (maybe a pre-retirement Hawaii renovation?). It’s been discontinued for about 15 years but was new-in-box with a manufacturer date of 2002. What a find!

So I’ve been keeping busy.  LOL.

Throughout the two months of closing, I learned that I’m a little psychic.

When Realtor Sharon Quist and I were evaluating the two offers I had back in July, I told her that regardless of which offer I chose, it would be the wrong offer. The 10-day to two-month close that’s still incomplete (which would have been done without changes at the end of July) proved me right in my wrongness.

If you see me in a line anywhere – bank, grocery store, wherever – don’t stand behind me if you’re in a rush.

*And yes, I opened with a biblical quote. And no, this atheist wasn’t struck by lightning!


Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

Reader Interactions


  1. Dr. Timothy B. Jones says

    Congratulations again Jon! Good things come to those who wait. Even though the other unit is your personal home, I hope you will let us follow along that renovation journey too. It’s been fun following the trials and tribulations of a penthouse renovation project…particularly through your lens. I for one like the B unit better than the one you sold so I’m just nosey about how it comes out. Good luck and best wishes always!

    • mmJon Anderson says

      I also prefer the “B” unit’s floorplan. It’s smaller (I’m one person) and because it backs to the elevators, there are fewer columns (elevators carry the structural weight) – this makes my living room extra-wide. It’s the only one of the 6 standard floorplans that does this.

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