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.

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. 

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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.

290 Acres In Rhinebeck? Sosnoff Said Yes

124 Martins Lane, Rhinebeck, New York, now reduced to $20M.

Normally, I’d say yeah, but no. On the other hand, the place is owned by legendary investor Martin Sosnoff, so you could do worse than to follow his lead. Never heard of him? Well then, read his recent book “Master Class For Investors: Stand Alone To Win Big“.

No interest in reading yet another investment book? Then at least read DailyWorth’s Amanda Steinberg’s review, she might change your mind about the value of this book.

The Sosnoff house, known as “Atalanta” (as in Atalanta Sosnoff Capital, $5.9 billion in assets) is a Klemm Real Estate listing. I really admire the Klemm family, they absolutely dominate the real estate biz in north Connecticut and north of Westchester.

Here’s the video for the property, watch a bit of it, pretty amazing place.

 

 

The $1,000,000 Flip

37 Tower Road Riverside, with view over Willowmere pond and beyond, to Tod’s Point and Long Island.

Don’t you wish this would happen to you? The buyer of 37 Tower Road, Riverside paid $6,300,000 on April 12th of this year. On August 3rd, according to Greenwich Patch, it sold again, this time for $7,300,000 to a Mr. Herman Apple Pye! Apparently Pye-guy really, REALLY wanted this place and was willing to pay the new owner a $1,000,000 premium (this kind of thing drives appraisers crazy).

We’re not talking about bidding wars here. These are cases where someone approaches the new owner of a property and says, what’s it gonna take?

How rare is this in Greenwich? Fairly rare, but not that rare. It happens about once or twice per year. The town attracts wealthy people and when they lose out on something, they tend not to take no for an answer…

Other examples where a frustrated buyer approached a new owner and paid a fat premium:

558 Round Hill Road, Greenwich. Sold for $3.5M, then re-sold for $4.750M.

558 Round Hill Road, Greenwich

sold August 5, 2013 for $3,500,000

sold again January 10, 2014 for $4,750,000.

 

63 John Street, Greenwich ,on 13.61 acres and pond. Sold for $5M, then quickly re-sold for $6M.

63 John Street, Greenwich

sold February 12, 2016 for $5,000,000.

sold again April 13, 2016 for $6,000,000  (dates approximate)

 

Tune in tomorrow for my radio show, we’ll talk about this and other vital topics: Wednesday 11:00 AM – 12:00 noon.

WGCH.com or 1490 AM on your damned radio!

 

Has The Market Been Dropping All This Time?

200 Old Mill Road, last sold for $6.3M in 2004. Now available for $5M. Bargain!                                        List: Helene Barre.

 

 

9 Woodside Road (Deer Park). In 2008, got $10,950,000. 2011, got $7,730,000. 2018 asked $6,475,000, now pending.
List: John McAtee
Sell: Lindsay Sheehy

17 Lismore Lane, sold in 2004 $3,010,000. Asked $2,300,000 in 2018, now pending.
List: David Ogilvy
Sell: David Ogilvy

The Greenwich market began to recover from the 2008-2009 crash in 2010 and the recovery continued into 2014, but since then,we appear to have slipped back, in some cases back to 1999 prices!

Below, I’ve provided some examples of recent sales in various parts of town showing the previous sales price and now the latest sale price, definitely bad news for sellers.

On the plus side, sales volume looks good. If you really want to sell, there are plenty of buyers in all price ranges. They are holding onto their wallets rather firmly, but they will buy if you make it impossible for them to say no.

Recent sale prices: Old vs. New

521 Field Point Road    2005: $6,035,000   2018: $5,200,000

43 Doubling Road         2006: $5,075,000   2017: $3,675,000

7 Knollwood Drive        2006: $5,650,000   2018: $4,500,000

123 Park Avenue           2007: $4,111,000.  2018: $2,650,000

45 Husted Lane             2001: $5,400,000  2017: $3,340,000

7 Little Cove Place        2012: $6,500,000  2018: $4,649,400

186 Shore Road, OG      2010: $6,625,000  2018: $5,500,000

46 Dawn Harbor Lane    2015: $4,155,000  2018: $3,700,000

(and there are many, many more examples)