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.

18 thoughts on “Game Changers*

  1. The bottom line is “At the end of the day” was a watershed moment for clichés; it leveled the playing field and spoke truth to power for those stylistically challenged.

  2. I think it is interesting that all five are new, or newly renovated. It seems like that is what buyers are willing to pay a premium for.

    • Anonymous:
      No question about it, new is what’s selling. Just to be sure, I quickly reviewed the 79 sales/accepted offers that have occurred in the last 6 months, $2.8M+, and indeed, that is the case. One notable exception: 84 Field Point Circle (“Hascoe”) which recently fetched $39,500,000; the buyer, a woman from Old Greenwich, is reportedly planning to remove and replace the 2nd floor!

      • I actually prefer old houses, but I am put off by the prices so many of the old houses are listed at. The sellers seem to pull their comps from the “game changing” new houses, without recognizing that upgrading an old house is expensive and a pain.

      • Remove and replace the second floor? Man, I hope she keeps the chimneys. I think those are the only features left from the original estate!

  3. 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.Whatever about the others, I still am gobsmacked by 247 Riverside sale price. Despite his personal shortcomings, I’ve always admired Doran’s taste but that price for that design was outrageous. I believe it probably set the tone in that end of the market for a while and definitely 24 Field benefited from that ‘comp’. Hope those buyers plan to stay a while….

      • Was on the market officially for what seemed like a long time time in 2009 or 2010 ( that listing was deleted) – never sold – they finally rented it out. They relisted it in 2011. The owners were friends of ours.
        When they saw that 247 Riverside Ave went for a crazy price in Jan 2011 – they relisted 2 weeks later and finally got a deal.

      • Tell It Like It Is:
        Hmmm, well, I looked it up; as I’m certain you’ll recall, the owners bought the place for $1,960,000 in August, 2005. Back then it was called “15 Colonial Lane”. The (tear-down on a) .47 acre lot had the advantage of backing up to Field Road so, when the new house was completed and the new driveway came out on Field Road, the address was changed. But I do not remember it ever being officially listed before this time. Perhaps it was a so-called “pocket listing”? In any case, the market caught up with the price.

      • That’s the advantage of having your listing deleted by the MLS – people tend to forget and then when you re-list – hey presto – new to market! Anyway it worked out well in the end. However, back to my original point, this house really benefited from the 247 Riverside sale which closed 2 weeks previous.

    • Anon:
      My take on the typical Sabag/Hoffman houses is that they get everything right. They’re big enough, they look reasonable, and the design works for most buyers. Plus, there’s usually a few “spectacular” features like a really good looking kitchen/family room, or master bedroom/bath. Hobbs is great, too, but the two companies build different houses. You would never mistake one for the other.

  4. Not sure you are going to read this since it is so old, but two of the properties you listed are on Club Road. Now they are two houses with pretty big prices (one spec, one renovation) that are not moving. (Unless they have sold very recently).

    So when does a game changer turn into an outlier?

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