Open Houses Today

42 John Street, perched at the top of Greenwich's "Round Hill", yours for $7.250M.

42 John Street, perched at the top of Greenwich’s “Round Hill”, yours for $7.250M.

Brokers don’t necessarily come back from open houses buzzing about any particular listings, but today was different; these are the two that seemingly everyone loved:

42 John Street

155 Pecksland Road

Of the two, perhaps John Street edges out Pecksland by a nose, based solely on its spectacular setting, some 600 feet above sea level (FEMA still not impressed!), with views straight to Oyster Bay, Long Island.

And the house, built in 1958, seemed brand new, like a perfectly restored Aston Martin DB 5. It seems impossible that the house is 56 years old!

Pecksland was also unbelievably impressive, with perfectly chosen colors, textures, furniture, just beautiful. And the lawns? Does the word “velvety” strike a chord? Absolute perfection.

As up-to-date as both these beauties are, however, they still are not the big, huge, 13-foot ceiling mega-mansions that continue to be favored by the market. Both houses represent a test, in fact, of the whole concept of updating older houses (Pecksland was built 1931). Should you do it? Clearly in these two cases, the results appear to have been worth every penny, but will the market agree?

155 Pecksland Road, a steal at $5.595M. Possibly the finest J. Alden Twachtman house I've ever been in, and I've been in plenty.

155 Pecksland Road, a steal at $5.595M. Possibly the finest J. Alden Twachtman house I’ve ever been in, and I’ve been in plenty.


How’s The Market, Really?

DeBlasio is coming, DeBlasio is coming! Desperate Manhattanites, rushing  down King  Sreet, heading to Greenwich to Connecticut to escape the coming Marxist tidal wave!

DeBlasio is coming, DeBlasio is coming! Desperate Manhattanites, rushing down King Street, heading to Greenwich to escape the coming Marxist tidal wave!

Turns out, not that bad, and certainly improved from 2013. Here are the numbers, provided by the (subscription only) real estate statistics site,, for single-family quarterly sales this year vs. last:

First quarter 2013:  96

First quarter 2014:  109

(SearchGreenwich tracks all reported sales, including non-MLS, but around 94% of sales are listed by brokers)

For The Year

The worst year in everyone’s memory was 2009, when the MLS showed 333 sales for the entire year; very scary. In 2013 we were back up to a more prosperous level of 620 sales, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see 700+ sales for all of 2014.

Click on the link below to see the full report, comparing first quarter 2013 to 2014, including land, condos, multi-family, etc. Info provided by DeCaro Associates, LLC.


I Should Be Happy

12 Rockview Drive, just off the beginning of Lake Ave, near Grwch Hospital, $1.395M...gone to contract!

12 Rockview Drive, just off the beginning of Lake Ave, near Grwch Hospital, $1.395M…gone to contract…Broker Jane Brash took 4 days to get it sold, she’s slowing down!

I’ve got a whole bunch of deals “in the pipeline” (accepted offers, signed contracts, etc.) and yet… every day I log into the Greenwich MLS to see what’s selling and ya know what I see? Rentals! Page after page of rentals. That’s not good; reminds me of the bad old days of 2009, when people were so uncertain of the future that they were afraid to buy. Could that be what’s happening now? How else to explain this rental surge?

Masking the problem somewhat is the shortage of sales inventory in some parts of town. Sellers are not immune, they no doubt feel the same sense of economic uncertainty that buyers appear to be feeling, so they may be holding back on listing their houses, at least for the nonce.

And thus, into this situation of semi-starved inventory, a central Greenwich, Riverside, or Old Greenwich property comes on the market at a smart price and bang! it’s sold, often in a bidding war. That sort of thing builds confidence. Maybe this “malaise” we’re suffering from will be self-correcting.

Here’s a link to the listing pictured above, very cute place, nice little cul-de-sac, close to town (magic words). I was among many who showed it, but someone else got the accepted offer, dash it!


Connecticut’s Conveyance Tax Explained


Formerly the estate of "timber tycoon" John Rudy...really? "Timber tycoon"?

Formerly the estate of “timber tycoon” John Rudey, the sale of this 50.6 -acre property produced a total conveyance tax of $1,796,000.

The occasion of the sale of 499 Indian Field Road, “Copper Beech Farm” for $120,000,000 and it’s attendant conveyance tax* of $1,796,000 provides us with an opportunity to show how this (insidious, deliberately confusing, so-called) tax works…

Here is the state of CT’s real estate conveyance tax, in it’s two parts:

State:  .75% of the first $800,000 and 1.25% on amounts above $800,000.

Local:  .250% of the total sales price.

So in the case of this landmark $120,000,000 sale, you calculate thusly….

For the state, you take that first $800,000 and multiply by .0075 to get $6,000. For the balance ($119,200,000), you multiply by .0125 to get $1,490,000. Total for the state, therefore is $6,000 plus $1,490,000 or $1,496,000.

For the Town’s take, you multiply the entire total of $120,000,000 by .00250 to get $300,000.


Sell for $1,000,000:

State gets .0075 of the first $800,0000, which is always $6,000. The $200,000 balance is multiplied by .0125 to get $2,500.

Town gets .0025 times $1,000,000 equaling $2,500.

Total conveyance tax = $11,000.

Sell for $2,000,000:

State = $6,000 + $15,000

Town = $5,000

Total conveyance tax:  $26,000.

Sell for $3,000,000

State = $6,000 + $27,500

Town = $7,500

Total conveyance tax:  $41,000.

And so on…

* In their never-ending quest to drive productive citizens out of Connecticut, Hartford liberals, beginning in 1989, began the steady raising of the conveyance tax every few years. Since it applies to all sales, even in cases where the seller may be losing hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars, it is more accurately described as a real estate sales penalty. Don’t like it?  Stop voting for liberals!