Club Road, where has the magic gone?

Club Road had two surprisingly good sales in the last 12 months but now three listings sit un-sold.  Is the magic over?  Did the “bad market” finally catch up with one of Riverside’s best addresses?  Who knows..  I do know that when any street in town has a few eye-popping sales, you’ll often see neighboring properties come on, priced even more eye-poppingly (look that word up).  When that happens, the properties end up sitting, good address or not.

One thing’s sure, if these properties don’t have deals by the end of January, they should cut those prices!

Here are the Club Road listings I’m talking about….

30 Club Road, new to market, priced at $6,850,000.

15% drop in Riverside? Impossible!

Dammit, hate when this happens; just when I thought I had it all figured out, i.e. “Riverside’s prices are back where they were at the peak”, along comes the example of 35 Bramble Lane.

35 Bramble Lane sells for $1,250,000 (15.44% less than 2008)

I’ve included, on the above link, the listing from July 2008 that sold for $1,480,000  and the one reported today, which shows a sale price of $1,250,000.  That’s about a 15 1/2% decline which, in the rest of the town, is nothing unusual, but for Riverside is a surprise.

Two things that might explain some of that price difference, the house was shown vacant this time, almost always a negative, and was put on the market in the fall, as opposed to the (superior) winter-spring market the last time.

Greenwich sends $1.3 billion per year to Hartford!


Yessir, that’s how much Greenwich taxpayers send to Hartford each year (we send about eight times that amount to the Federal government). In belated recognition of this astounding yearly contribution to the greedy pols in Hartford, Governor “Danno” (as in Hawaii Five-O) Malloy has declared December 2nd “Thank You Greenwich Day”.

In prepared remarks, the Governor cited Greenwich citizens for their “generosity” and went on to say “It simply amazes all of us up here that 63,000 Greenwich residents can work this long and hard all year and then demand nothing back from their masters upstate.” The Governor said he found it “amusing” that Greenwich school kids must run bake sales and car-washes in order to pay for things like team uniforms and trips.

“It really is funny, if you think about it”, said Malloy. “We take over a billion per year from them and then they have to come groveling to us for ‘grants’ for things like a police boat….priceless!”

Asked about the deplorable condition of the one road in Greenwich that the State of Connecticut takes responsibility for, Route 1, the Governor said “Yes, I agree. I had to switch limousines the other day when we blew a tire in one of those huge pot-holes! Tell the Greenwich folks that we’ll get around to it…maybe 2012, maybe 2013.”

20111119-170355.jpgPictured: Route 1 pot-hole “number 56”, this one in the Riverside section of Greenwich. Thanks, Hartford!

Over-pricing: It never works so… let’s try it!

Did I say “never”? Ok, I’ll admit to one teensy-weensy exception; every once in a blue moon, a property comes on the market that seems slightly over-priced ( I said slightly), but it nevertheless gets a deal in the first week or so.  That’s your exception. And note that phrase “in the first week or so”.

Yup, if “magic” is going to happen, it’s going to happen quickly or not at all.  In 25 years of observing the Greenwich market, I have never, ever seen someone rewarded for hanging in there, “waiting for their price”, not one time.  That means, if you’ve had 20 showings and a month or so on the market and no offers?  It’s not going to improve, I promise you.

14 Maher Avenue: Asked $1.495M Sold: $1,065,000.

I took a look at sales in the last 12 months priced $1,000,000 to 2,000,000.  There were 170 properties sold in that price-range, in that time period.  Most sold fairly quickly, a few months at most.  But 21 of them (around 12%) were properties that took years and years.

Here are those 21 properties.

(Note: The listings on this link for the most part do not show the real, actual original asking price or first listing date.  That coveted, hard-to-cobble-together information is listed below.)

1.  14 Lake Drive…. Asked $1,249,000. Sold $955,000.  Started 5/2010

2.  9 Greenwich Cove Drive… Asked $2,150,000. Sold $1,167,000.  Started 9/2009

3.  30 Byram Shore Road… Asked $2,150,000. Sold $995,500.  Started 4/2008

4.  28 Hendrie Drive… Asked $1,495,000. Sold $1,205,000.  Started 5/2010

5.  14 Maher Avenue… Asked $1,495,000. Sold $1,065,000.  Started 10/2009

6.  73 Dearfield Drive… Asked $2,295,000.  Sold $1,250,000.  Started 6/2005

7.  210 Weaver Street… Asked $1,700,000.  Sold $1,205,000.  Started 10/2003

8.  12 Perryridge Rd… Asked $1,775,000.  Sold $1,100,000.  Started 9/2008

9.  34 Crescent Rd… Asked $1,535,000.  Sold $1,150,000.  Started 5/2010

10.  63 Winthrop Dr… Asked $1,649,000.  Sold $1,296,000. Started 10/2010

11.  30 Carrington Dr… Asked $2,550,000. Sold $1,500,000.  Started 4/2003

12.  400 North Maple Ave… Asked $1,950,000.  Sold $1,450,000.  Started 11/2009

13.  1 Stallion Trail… Asked: $2,499,995.  Sold $1,150,000.  Started 9/2001

14.  357 Stanwich Rd… Asked $2,850,000.  Sold 1,550,000.  Started 8/2008

15.  18 Ferncliff Rd… Asked $1,995,000. Sold $1,550,000.  Started: 6/2008

16.  93 Hillcrest Park Rd… Asked $2,195,000.  Sold $1,542,000.  Started 9/2009

17.  200 Lake Avenue… Asked $2,850,000.  Sold $1,500,000.  Started 9/2006

18.  27 Grove Street… Asked $1,999,000.  Sold $1,639,000.  Started 7/2007

19.  409 Round Hill Rd… Asked $2,195,000.  Sold $1,300,000.  Started 8/2002

20.  303 Shore Rd… Asked $2,375,000.  Sold $1,740,000.  Started 10/2009

21.  23 Baliwick Rd… Asked $2,995,000.  Sold $1,750,000.  Started 3/2008

Grossly over-priced properties do not “get their price”, and the more valuable properties are frequently over-priced by even larger percentages than shown above.  The really big boys sometimes sell for as little as 50-40% of the original ask.

Kennedy’s Barber Shop

Gideon Fountain sings the theme song to "The Love Boat", with blues/country/r&r star, Russ Preston (donations welcome).

So far, I like this place; straight razor shaves, fancy barber parlor (no children!), cigars, espresso…all very nice. They also offer manicures and “facial” stuff, probably not for me, but perhaps you other fellows (I’m not judging)

Located at 116 East Putnam Avenue, Greenwich, CT (to the right of Asiana, to the left of Whole Foods).

Note: As always, this is a FREE plug.  For the record, I also like “Classic Barbers”, at the bottom of Greenwich Avenue, except that when I get a hair-cut there, I’m usually being stared at by groups of 6 year-olds and their Moms.

Real Estate Myths: A Continuing Series

38 Crown Lane sold for $5,000,000.

One of the more popular, enduring real estate myths is the idea that if a wealthy buyer really wants something, it doesn’t matter what the asking price is.  This is baloney, of course, and here are two examples to prove the point…

52 Pear Lane

38 Crown Lane

52 Pear Lane (off fabled "Field Point Circle") fetches $10,000,000.

Both of these properties border on, and were bought by, mega-wealthy owners.  In the case of 52 Pear Lane, the famously well-heeled Egyptian next-door neighbor had a standing offer on it for $10,000,000.  After the death of the elderly owner, the family decided to put the place on the open market instead of accepting the neighbor’s offer. First, it was put up for rent (asked $25K, got 15K), then, a year later, for sale at $16,500,000.

That was an impossible price, so there it sat for another year.  Eventually, they sold it for (surprise!) $10,000,000, to… the fellow next door with the standing offer! Note that he waited patiently, and never raised his offer.  That’s because $10M was already a “generous” offer. But wait, you say, he’s worth hundreds of millions! Why wouldn’t he just pay up?  What’s an extra five or six million to this guy?  The answer is, an “extra” five or six million apparently means quite a lot to him.

The second example is 38 Crown Lane, owned by a well-known New York Knickerbockers star, and situated right next door to a well-known hedge fund billionaire. Knicks guy has standing offer of $5,000,000 from hedge fund guy, but Knicks guy can’t resist putting the place on the market for $5,995,000.  Four months go by and finally, Knicks guy sells to….are you sitting down?….The hedge fund guy for $5,000,000!  But wait, you say, hedge fund chap has billions! What’s an extra $995,000 to him?? He probably threw that much into trick-or-treaters’ U.N.I.C.E.F. boxes!  Possibly true, but once again, a rich guy declined to “pay any price” for property he very much wanted to own.

Next in this series:  Asking Prices…. y’ever notice how, when someone’s selling, say, a Van Gogh, they don’t start at $200,000,000 and negotiate down; rather, they begin at a number like $10,000,000 and negotiate up. Could there be a lesson here for property sellers?

All It Takes Is One….

A fellow broker, commenting on my post “Game Changers”, wrote the following:

I think with your experience in the biz you should know that you get these situations where the female spouse just “loves” a property and price doesn’t even become an issue. They either have always loved “that house” or “that builder” and there’s little or no negotiation.

See now, I think that’s total bunk. It promotes the idea that sellers have only to wait for the right buyer, i.e. a spouse that just loves the place so much that the price doesn’t matter, or a couple who really, truly “gets” your house. It is exactly that kind of thinking that leads people to sit on the market for months and months, years and years, even, in one astounding case, DECADES, waiting for..sigh…that “right buyer”.

The truth is, if one couple comes along that is willing to pay $5,300,000 for your house, there are undoubtedly others just like them. And if no couples come along after 20 showings and/or one month on the market? You’re over-priced. There is no “right buyer” at the price you are asking. Just ask the people entering their third year on the market! Oh wait, no, don’t ask them. They’re lost in a real estate miasma.

See link: 41 Jone Park Drive

Why Chris Fountain should have a few advertisements….

As many of you know, I have bugged Chris Fountain for years to let a few paying advertisers into his blog.  They could be discreet, off to the side, unobtrusive…maybe, say, Toyota Motors or, I don’t know, a roofing company?  Or what about a “fancy” escort service! (tee hee).

Anyway, above is an i-Phone photo of my computer screen showing “site stats” for this blog, as provided by WordPress.  For whatever reason, they won’t allow me to show a direct download but you can get some idea of what happened after Chris mentioned “Bored And Razed”; the afternoon of November 10th, he mentions me, and there’s a bump.  But by the next day, today, take a look what has happened to my readership numbers. That’s “the power of Chris”!

Verona Drive: Another record price?

Number 28 Verona Drive, in the Riverside section of Greenwich, was reported “signed contracts” today.  Asking price is $4,250,000. The uncorrected DOM (Days On Market) says “6”, but in reality, the place was first listed way back in May, 2008 before it was even a hole in the ground.

Listing broker is Steve Archino, selling broker (as usual!) is Ann Simpson.  Steve also had the place next door, 24 Verona Drive, on the market earlier in the year, and that fetched $3,825,000 plus, I am told, another $400,000 for “extras” (selling broker Amanda Miller).

Both houses were built by John Romano, and I think he does a really good job. And, as the headline says, these are record prices for Verona Drive!  In fact, it’s a continuation of my “Riverside is in its own little world” observation.  While other parts of town, notably the back-country, struggle to get inventory sold, Riverside just chugs along, setting new records.  Very odd.

Here’s a link for the two Verona Drive listings.

28 Verona Drive: asking $4,250,000, goes to contract today.

Game Changers*

Imagine, for a moment, that a cruel twist of fate has caused you to spend your days on this earth pondering the question of what properties are worth in Greenwich, Connecticut.  And that, after quite a bit of this, you have things pretty well figured out.  Then a sale occurs which throws off your calculations. The price is 10-20% higher than it “should” be.  You, and the other thinking brokers (oxymoron?) scramble to explain it, rationalize, justify, or repudiate.

When the first such sale occurs, it will be said that “The buyer was crazy!” or  “Well sure, but it was one of those amazing houses built by Doron Sabag and Jim Hoffman.  Buyers won’t pay that kind of price for an ordinary house!” Unfortunately for these explanations, another sale usually turns up immediately that is also “too high”, and then another, and another.  Here are five examples of sales in the last year that surprised the broker community.  There are more, but they haven’t closed yet.  When they do, I’ll re-visit this issue.

All of my examples happen to be in the Riverside and Old Greenwich sections of Greenwich.  The phenomenon of surprisingly high sale prices is rarer in the rest of town, but there’ve been a few.  I’ll show you those tomorrow.

* “Game changer”, like “perfect storm”, is only the latest of the almost instantly tiresome clichés that sweep the nation every year.  Remember “at the end of the day”? Always hated that one.

247 Riverside Avenue: sold for a "game-changing" sum of $5.3M, Dec., 2010.