About Gideon Fountain

I've been selling real estate in Greenwich for 30 years (but not while wearing a bathing suit). During this time I've learned that brokers owe a fiduciary duty to their selling clients, their buying clients, even to people who merely happen to approach them with a real estate question. So there's my method: honest answers, no sleazy tricks, it's worked out well! P.S. Any business that gets a plug in this blog gets it for free, I accept no payments, reduced-price-of-service, nothing, nada, zilch.

Should You Buy An Investment Property?

33 Valley Road, Cos Cob, CT. Asking price $1,650,000. Now has deal (sold immediately).
List: Denise Rosato of Coldwell Banker
Sell: Lisa McGinn of Berkshire Hathaway

Today’s Wall Street Journal declares California has become a one-party state. As a result, it has the highest everything: highest taxes, highest regulations, highest illegal alien population, highest number of people on welfare, and, to top it all off, mediocre public schools! Oh ,and the roads are in terrible shape, and getting worse.

Can all this happen in Connecticut? Yes, by gosh, it’s happening right now! So, is it time to get out? That, old chum, is YOUR decision. In the meantime, you might as well invest in some income property, what say?

Here’s a damn good example: 33 Valley Road is a four-family dwelling, with rental income of $8,800 per month, $105,600 per year. Taxes are low (for now), only $9,783 per year. All in all, a good investment in a central location that is near everything and will always be easy to rent.

Unfortunately, it just got snapped up, so forget about this one. But there are still eight more on the market (click link below) so go out tomorrow and buy one!

Current inventory of multi-family homes.

How’s The Market, Really?

35 Close Road, Greenwich, just closed at $11,180,000.
List: Danielle Malloy, Five Corners Properties
Sell: Debbie Huffard, Houlihan Lawrence

Besides last Monday’s $48,000,000 closing, we’ve had 56 house deals in the last 30 days or so, ranging in price from $11,180,000 down to $549,000. Is that good? Yes, that is a “brisk” pace for this time of year, especially when you add to that total my certain knowledge of a whole bunch of other deals that are presently “contingent”, so brokers are reluctant to report them. All in all, things are good. As long as you don’t over-price, you will be on and off the market in 60 days or less.

Here’s the break-down:

Of those fifty-six, thirty-three of them are priced between $1.5M and $3.995M. The 2Ms are particularly strong, where we see fourteen deals, but it really is broad-based activity, up and down the price range. Hell, we had three deals in the $500,000s, not bad for fancy Greenwich, CT.

And here is a link to the 56 properties (the damned link only remains active for a month or two):

Click to view listing(s)

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.

Bidding Wars

These are not HUGE price jumps, like the good old days, but given the market’s alleged “slowness”, it’s nice to see some enthusiasm, b’gosh!….

(All five of these closed within the last 30 days)

2 Grimes Road, Old Greenwich, asked $1,895,000, sold $1,905,000.
List: Daphne Lamsvelt-Pol Sell: Peter Janis

6 North Street, Old Greenwich, asked $1,595,000, sold $1,625,000.
List: Joe Barbieri Sell: Joe Barbieri
49 Sumner Road, Greenwich, asked $1,399,000, sold $1,405,000.
List: Robin Kencel Sell: Peter Rosato
100 Wesskum Wood Road, Old Greenwich, asked $1,195,000, sold $1,277,000.
List: Ann Simpson Sell: Jennifer Thomas
224 Stanwich Road, Greenwich, asked $1,000,000, sold $1,100,888.
List: Fran Unrine Sell: Tuck Keating

The Biggest Sale Of The Year

110 Field Point Circle, Greenwich, closed Monday at $48M.

And it’s only February! But at $48,000,000, the sale of the spectacular, nearly brand new house at 110 Field Point Circle, Greenwich, CT is sure to hold the record for the rest of the year.

The following are unconfirmed rumors:

Seller was hedge-fund genius, Chris Shumway, who packed up the family and the company and moved the whole operation to Florida…Nice going, Hartford, you scared away another HUGE taxpayer!

Buyer: A Greenwich couple (who have NOT been driven out of CT….yet)

Listing broker: Chris Finlay, Halstead Real Estate

Selling broker: Rob Johnson, Halstead Real Estate

Note: Town of Greenwich tax records show that State of CT conveyance taxes of $596,000 and Town taxes of $120,000 were collected, so you can figure out the sale price (which was undisclosed) by using either the Town tax amount or the State amount.

Like so:

State: .75%, up to $800,000 and 1.25% on amounts above $800,000. For this sale, the first $800,000 caused a tax of $6,000. The balance, $47,200,000 X 1.25% = $590,000. Therefore, ipso fatso! a sale price of $48,000,000.

Two Hugely Expensive Homes That Will Sell Immediately

19 Lower Cross Road, $13.9M, view of front hall…click listing link below, very spectacular place.
List: Brian Milton

UPDATE: As of March 1, 2019, both of these properties are still available (although there’s rumored interest at 15 Meadowcroft).

Going out on a limb here, but I hereby state for the record that these two houses will have accepted offers in the next 30 days…

19 Lower Cross Road, Greenwich, CT Ask: $13,900,000.
15 Meadowcroft Lane, Greenwich, CT Ask: $18,750,000.
List: James Hoffman

Note: I’m using Houlihan Lawrence links because the links don’t “expire”, but both these properties are listed with competitors.

This Week’s “Way To Hang In There” Award Winner!

449 Round Hill Road, Greenwich, reports a closing today at $6,613,000. Start-to-finish, a short eight years!
List: Steve Archino
Sell Jennifer Leahy

Friends, many of us would have either walked away or been fired LONG before this listing finally sold, but not broker Steve Archino! Nope, ol’ Steve hung in there, beginning on that cool, crisp February day in 2011. Now, a short 8 years later, Archino gets his reward, reporting the sale of 449 Round Hill Road, for $6,613,000.

If you’re not in the business, you might wonder why, oh why, would a seller allow a property to hang around so long? The answer is…who the hell knows! but it’s a very common practice in Greenwich. My observation is that sellers in this lofty price range own multiple homes and multiple assets and just aren’t that concerned. They pick up the phone every once in a while, check in with their broker (Any showings lately? Good, ok, keep up the good work!) and then forget about it till next month. As long as everyone’s happy, who cares?

Anyway, this is a good price, and provides further evidence of a back-country market that continues to improve.