So What’s It Worth?

107 Meadow Road, Riverside, asking $8.695M.
List: Ann Simpson, Berkshire Hathaway

It’s all well and good for us brokers to puzzle over the value of $48,000,000 properties, but most of the time, we come down from the stratosphere and work on the more common, every day starter-homes, like for instance, 107 Meadow Road, Riverside, recently put back on the market for a piddling $8,695,000.

Regular readers will recall my earlier post from 2017 where I called it “Bargain of the Century” because eight pages of deed restrictions had reduced its value from around $12,500,000 (highest and best use of this 3.22 acre waterfront property would have been a 5-lot subdivision) down to its eventual sale price of $3,700,000.

The buyers, a couple who have built new and/or renovated on at least five previous occasions, really know what they’re doing, so they have taken this classic antique and brought it beautifully into this century, in particular, creating a fabulous kitchen/family room and a luxurious master bedroom and bath (and the improvements list goes on and on and on).

Could you do more here? Sure, you could continue even further with the owners’ already massive upgrading, both inside and out, but most importantly, you could continue their successful negotiating with the Greenwich Land Trust, which is empowered to enforce those pesky deed restrictions, and thereby get them to let you add a few things here and there, like maybe a larger garage building? (or underground garage?)

The point is, the present owners have shown the way for the next owners. Despite all the legal advice to the contrary, that so many would-be buyers were discouraged by, it is clear that the Greenwich Land Trust is willing to be reasonable and flexible. Does that mean you can build a nice guest house? Probably not, but a tennis court? Very likely. Upgraded swimming pool? Sure. And, at 40 feet above mean high-tide, I don’t see what objection anyone would have to some underground garage space.

The absolute best part of this property is the wide open space, so rare and coveted in Riverside that desperate property owners now frequently acquire adjoining lots for millions of dollars, just to give themselves breathing room and protection from yet another giant mansion peering down at them. With 107 Meadow Road, you spare yourself the entire hassle of buying neighbors’ houses and tearing them down! It’s all done here, nothing to buy, nothing to add, and absolute guaranteed views that will never be taken away. That is worth the price they are asking.

6 thoughts on “So What’s It Worth?

  1. I am sorry but your concept of value is sorely misplaced here. We know what they paid and I have a pretty good idea of how much they have spent on renovation. If someone is daft enough to pay anywhere close to that list then good for them, that’s capitalism. But I will not be one of them.

    • Egg-zackly, my friend, YOU will not be one of them, but I think buyers who are shown everything else in this price category will place a huge value on all that land and view. Anyway, it will cost you and I nothing to wait and see what happens.

      • The conservation easement explicitly says you can’t increase/decrease the dimensions or shape of the pool or the garage. EXPLICITLY. It also EXPLICITLY says you can’t build any other outbuildings (which would include an underground garage since there’s no way to enter the garage without some sort of door). You’re not changing those despite what Ann Simpson may hint at or you may think is possible. GLT will get in serious trouble with CT and Federal tax authorities if they violate the easement – they can lose their tax exempt status. The owners didn’t negotiate anything with the GLT. Name one thing they did that wasn’t already permitted under the easement that required any negotiation. There’s not a single thing. Ann Simpson is telling buyers they negotiated with the GLT to make people think there can be a negotiation – there is nothing to negotiate, check the easement and what was done to the house. So to pretend that the GLT is going to let you replace the garage or pool with something else is very ill informed. It is telling that they didn’t touch the garage other than to paint the exterior and replace the shingles. Wonder why? Wonder why they didn’t touch the pool? The owners did a beautiful job on the interior renovations but they only spent about $1mm, the house was bought for $3.7mm, and the owners have actually proven that the GLT won’t bend on the easement (see the garage, the pool, the same window sizes, same exterior door placement, same walkway placement, etc). Who knows what it will clear for but I’ll bet they’re lucky to get $5.5mm – most people in this price range don’t like being told they can’t do anything to the land or the exterior of the house. Want to pave the driveway by the garage so the kids can play basketball? Sorry, can’t do that. Want to install an automatic pool cover so your kids / grandkids don’t drown? Sorry, can’t do that. Want to replace the kidney pool with a rectangular pool? Sorry, can’t do that. Want to add a dock? Sorry, can’t do that.
        Want to rip out the garden to have more grass for the kids to play? Sorry, can’t do that. On one hand it’s nice to not have to make any choices but $8.7mm is a lot of money to pay to give away the right to make choices. But then again that’s what makes a real estate market.

      • Glad you are giving this so much thought! But, since you’re not in the business, there are certain things you’re not aware of, for instance, that at least two would-be buyers were prepared to pay $6M but were dissuaded by the (previous) listing broker who reportedly said exactly what YOU are saying. She was of the opinion that a new owner would not be allowed to install central A/C because the outside condensers would “alter the exterior appearance”. Turned out to be false. Would-be buyers were told that not a single shrub or tree could be removed, also false. Awnings on the rear side? Permitted. Tennis court? Yes! The fact is, there IS some leeway, you CAN do things, but because of misinformation and fear, that purchase price was driven down to a ridiculously low level. This ain’t my listing, I have no dog in this fight, but, for my money, the place is worth in the $8Ms.

  2. Actually I heard about those bids. One of them had it under signed contract for almost six months so they could discuss things with GLT to see how much flexibility they had – and they walked away after understanding what they could and couldn’t (more importantly) do. The easement explicitly says you can install a tennis court – that’s not negotiating with the GLT, that’s what’s in the easement. But you can’t destroy the garden to install it so where does it go since you can’t change the grading or install retaining walls? Riddle me that.

    Beautiful renovations, beautiful land and views. But it would be naive to think that someone can do anything other than whatever they want inside the walls of the house.

    • In regard to a tennis court, easement Article 1., section d, states that “[you may] install, maintain, repair, and replace facilities for the non-commercial playing of tennis”. As you suggest, it was not clear to many would-be buyers where, if at all, one could actually install this tennis court, so naturally, overly cautious legal advisors told them “forget about a tennis court”. But it turns out the Greenwich Land Trust WILL let you add a tennis court and, if you work with them and are polite and non-confrontational, I think you can do a whole lot more. No, they do not want to place at risk their tax-exempt status with the (damned) IRS, but, at the same time, they are not interested in nit-picking this situation for the next 100 years or so. In today’s real estate market, this Riverside parcel is worth $12M as BARE LAND. You can have that land, plus a wonderful house to live in for far less money. It will take, I admit, a “creative” buyer, a couple with vision and patience, but the reward will be GREAT.

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