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.

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

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.

Advertisements

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.

Flipping For Dollars

9 Thornhill Road: The former master bath….


9 Thornhill: The new master bath… (discerning eyes will detect the difference)

I like to see smart re-dos and it looks like that’s what’s happened on Riverside’s Thornhill Road. The old house was perfectly acceptable, nicely maintained, but woefully out of date (see before photos, linked below). The backyard’s REALLY deep and the impression of space is even better because the neighbor to the left didn’t put up an ugly fence. It always amazes me how much better two adjoining properties can look when neither neighbor fences off, but I’ll admit, sometimes you have no choice.

Maybe that big backyard was the reason the old house was so badly overpriced, starting at $1,250,000 in May, 2017. Several price reductions and many months later, they finally got a deal, closing for $930,000 in April, 2018. Four months later, total transformation complete, it came back on for $1,399,000, in August, 2018, and now, a contract is reported. Did the builder make money? Depends on that closing price of course. I’ll keep track and report to you on closing day.

This is the old listing:

http://www.flexmls.com/cgi-bin/mainmenu.cgi?cmd=url+other/run_public_link.html&public_link_tech_id=1fzw0mx9i78h&s=6&id=1&san=50741&cid=1

This is the latest listing:

https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/9-Thornhill-Rd_Riverside_CT_06878_M38115-16224#photo13

Is $3.5M Such A Bad Price?

390 Round Hill Road, Greenwich. Started at $5.8M, final ask $4.0M. Sells for $3.5M.
List: Sandy Shaw

Much will be made of the fact that baseball star Bobby Bonilla’s former house on Round Hill Road has today closed at $3,500,000, but really, it’s not such a bad price for a 2003 house in Greenwich’s backcountry, walking distance to the Strain family’s country store.

Mr. & Mrs. Bonilla* paid $1,900,000 for a tear-down on the property way back in 1992, built a new mansion, got divorced, and eventually sold it for $5,000,000 in August, 2011.

Since then, the demand for backcountry has undeniably diminished. There are fewer buyers, certainly, but it is completely inaccurate to say “No one wants to live back there”.

Reduced demand means lower prices, as ol’ Adam Smith would say. Add to that the fact that the house is now 15 years old (well maintained, but not substantially updated) and, by gosh, $3.5M is impressive.  In most towns, that’s a %#@&-load of money!

*Bobby Bonilla fun-fact: The Mets send him a check for $1,193,248 every July 1st, through 2035. Why? Because the owners of the team, the Wilpons, believed that the money they “invested” with Bernie Made-Off would earn them 12% per year until the end of time, so they could easily afford such an extravagant contract. 

C’mon In, The Market’s Fine!

8 Willow Lane, Old Greenwich, asked $1,150,000, sells for $1,225,000.
List: Cynthia De Riemer
Sell: Julie Lowe

Friends, don’t ask me to explain it, but the Greenwich real estate market is doing just fine. Volume exceeds last year’s and prices are NOT dropping. They’re not rising, but they definitely aren’t falling.

The most astonishing fact? We brokers noticed a pick-up in showings the day after the elections! Buyers heaved a collective sigh and said, “Thank God, we’ll have more Democrats in Hartford, so now the state can really clean up it’s act!” Yeah,no, there is zero possibility that higher taxes, tolls, and new, burdensome regulations on businesses made anyone think Connecticut is now back on track.

In fact, if you want to be thoroughly depressed, read this short little item about poor old, over-taxed, deeply indebted Westchester, because this is exactly where we are headed: Westchester County Loses Triple A Rating.

No, Connecticut is surely continuing its steady trip down the drain, no doubt hastened by Governor-elect Ned Lament, therefore the Greenwich real estate market has ground to a halt…except it hasn’t.

P.S.  8 Willow Lane (seen above) makes an interesting case study: it came on September 18th for what, in my opinion, was a slightly elevated price, but I was sure it would sell for at least $950,000.

Instead, it goes $75,000 over ask, in an apparent bidding war! What’s so good about Willow Lane? It is a quiet little cul-de-sac off Sound Beach Avenue, located just past Old Greenwich Elementary School, walkable to train, beach, stores and restaurants. This house is a modest little bungalow, located at the very end of the street, perfect for pets, children, you-name-it.

And the most amazing fact of all, the contract was signed November 9th, three days past election day. This buyer said, “I don’t care, I STILL want Connecticut!”, to which I say HOORAY!

CT Poll Workers Prepare To Release Thousands Of Fake Ballots

New Haven polling station workers carrying boxes of pre-voted Ned Lamont ballots.
(actually, these are Peruvians carrying ballots in Peru, but…you get the idea)

It’s always puzzled me that CT Republicans tolerate this “open secret” that CT Democrats in the three failed cities of Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport will, when needed in a close race, manufacture thousands of phony ballots in order to put the Democratic candidate ahead. A recent case of this was Governor Malloy’s 2010 victory over Republican Tom Foley by just 6,404 votes.

If it’s 5:00 PM on election day and it looks like their guy might get edged out by a relatively small number of votes, the Democrats will apparently use one of two techniques to fix things:

The first trick is to claim “polling station irregularities have made it impossible for people to vote, so we must keep the stations opened for several more hours”. Claims of insufficient numbers of paper ballots, or malfunctioning voting machines are used to convince a friendly judge to issue the order to keep the stations opened. Workers then rush around and gather up reliable Democrat voters and bus them to the polls. After a few hours of that, the deficit is made up and the Democrat wins.

The other technique is to simply print up thousands of phony ballots, already filled out for the Democratic candidates, and keep them in sealed bags at key polling stations in New Haven and elsewhere and release whatever number is needed to fill the gap.

Republican officials I have spoken to believe this second method was the one used to produce Malloy’s slightly improved victory over Foley in 2014’s re-match, winning by around 25,000 votes.

I’ve done an extensive internet search to see if maybe Republicans are also accused of pulling this kind of stunt anywhere in the nation but it looks like this crime is exclusively Democrat. So why do we allow it? How hard would it be to send Federal observers to some of these trouble spots? Former Attorney General Eric Holder certainly had no problem sending observers down to southern states when he suspected “voter suppression” (aka, asking for photo identification) so let’s try it in Connecticut!

How Much Privacy Do You Need?

33 Sherwood Avenue, off Riversville Road, lists in September at $3.2M, gets quick deal.
List: Maryjane Bates-Hvolbeck

Clever bathroom design encourages interaction between multiple users!

As I’ve made clear in previous posts, I do like certain contemporaries. For instance, this example on 33 Sherwood Avenue, Greenwich, which has quickly gone to contract, is great. I even like the furniture. The only little detail that “puzzles” me is the side-by-side toilets in the master bath. Oh, and that wall-opening between sink and toilet, what’s that for? I guess so that someone brushing their teeth at the sink can keep an eye on someone else as they perform their, uh, duties?

This would not work for me, but perhaps I’m old-fashioned.