Bellwether Sales

10 Copper Beech Rd has closed at $6,400,000 (but sold for $8,050,000 in 2008.

As every school child knows, a bellwether is a “predictor or indicator of things”, so, as I’ve said before, laziness compels me to look for bellwethers. I want short-cuts to help me assess the state of the market. Why spend hours analyzing dozens and dozens of recent sales when you can just point at one or two and proclaim, “There’s your damned market, right there!”

So here’s one of my bellwethers:

10 Copper Beech, as seen above. What is so painful about this one, besides the $1,650,000 difference between 2008’s and 2017’s price, is that these owners did everything right; the house was absolutely perfect inside, each and every room just beautiful. Even the [flipping] furnace room was a work of art, I kid you not.

Yup, it was perfect, no indication of being nine years old, might as well have been built this year. And the reward for all this perfection? $1.650M less, plus the additional money put into it since purchase. Very unfair and definitely worrisome for the Greenwich high-end sector.

My next bellwether:

20 Gilliam Lane, Riverside, closed at $2,150,000.

Here’s another one where the sellers did everything possible (they even increased the lot size!) and the market nevertheless delivered a swift kick to the @#%. I grew up (so to speak) next to this property, know it well, and always pay special attention to its selling price every time it comes back on the market. Here’s how it’s worked out the last few times:

1995:  $937,100.

2006:  $2,355,000.

2011:  $2,150,000.

2017:  $2,150,000.

Believe you me, each one of those sellers added plenty of value to the property, particularly the most recent ones, who did beautiful decorating and paint work, added a full-house generator, updated baths, and, get this, they had the property re-surveyed and discovered it wasn’t the .24 acres they thought they had bought, but was instead .3661 acres!

You mathematicians in the audience will perceive that is over FIFTY PERCENT more property! It went from having zero FAR remaining, to being able to add more than 500 square feet, a significant improvement. Oh, and did I mention that they piped the stream, and filled the gulley in the rear, creating a new, flat back yard? Huge improvement.

The market’s reaction? Ho-hum…what have you done for us lately? Sorry, we’ll pay you exactly what you paid 6 years ago.

And that, my friends, sums up this market: Our buyers are feeling optimistic, their jobs are secure, their stock portfolio way up, but for real estate purchases, they are cautious. They will buy, but they do so almost reluctantly, and if they have their way, they will pay you less than whatever you paid.

12 thoughts on “Bellwether Sales

  1. Might 20 Gilliam Lane’s failure to generate a higher 2017 price be due to the residual karma of your having been raised in close proximity?

    • Ay-Non:
      That was my first reaction, so I ran over for a look. It was built in 2008, so of course you notice certain things that are no longer allowed, like dark wood finishes in the kitchen, bathrooms no longer cutting edge. It’s safe to say that the next owner will want to do some cosmetic updating.
      But what you really notice is the view down to the NYC skyline, plus the fact that the street has become nothing but major mansions. After taking all that in, I decided it may get its price after all.

    • Some:
      By gum, I think you’ve swerved into the truth! There is SO much information on each and every real estate transaction that buyers can end up paralyzed, unable to pull the trigger on a purchase, fearing that most dreaded fate of all….”overpaying”!

      • Ay-nonny-nonny:
        Overpaying by 50K in THIS town is hardly worth worrying about. I also think getting the process over with, finally stepping up and making a decision, is truly valuable. It shouldn’t take 5 years to buy a damned house.

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