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.
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.
25 Lower Cross Road, Greenwich: mansion, outbuildings, 80 acres; the “jewel” of Conyers Farm. Last Ask: $29M Sold: $21M List: David Ogilvy Sell: David Ogilvy
Broker David Ogilvy has sold his own listing for $21,000,000. The historians among you will quickly recall he did the same thing with this property in 2004! Back then, in a better market for Greenwich’s “Conyers Farm”, 25 Lower Cross fetched $45,000,000. 13 years later and a loss of a paltry $24M, the deal has been done again.
One of the un-heralded skills of brokering is the ability to get your seller to throw in the towel and just let the property sell. In this case, the seller waited two years, which, in the current market, is the mere blink of an eye. There are presently a dozen or two high-end properties (almost all w-a-a-y back country) passing their 10th year on the market, so I’m impressed with what happened here.
But what else happened here? Why is this spectacular place, which the current owner made even more spectacular during his time of ownership, selling for such an enormous loss? It’s not as though market punishment is being spread evenly. No, Conyers Farm for some reason bears the brunt. Other parts of town, particularly waterfront, but even mid-country, have owners showing handsome profits after 10+ years of ownership. For the nonce, Conyers takes the hit, but I truly believe it will rise again.
2017: What A Year!
Here’s a review of this year’s super high-end sales, so far:
116 Oneida Drive, central Greenwich waterfront. Sold for $15M in 2002, now sells again, this time for $20.337M. List: David Ogilvy Sell: Brian Milton
Broker Brian Milton has yet again provided the buyer for a mega-expensive property, this time for a David Ogilvy listing that just closed at $20,377,000 (an odd figure that suggests last-minute ‘adjustments”?). That’s a very big commitment to Greenwich and, more significantly, the State of CT, by this buyer, and he wasn’t alone; in just the last 48 days, we’ve seen 12 deals in the $7M+ range.
Today is Sunday, October 8th, so this is the 281st day of 2017. Since the start of the year, we’ve had 25 $7M+ deals in Greenwich. The fact that almost half of those occurred in the last 48 days tells me we are in an up-swing. But why? Doesn’t the news about CT’s Puerto Rico-style financial mis-management continue to be bad? Doesn’t the State continue to be tied to ruinous state-worker-union contract benefits that eat up almost half of the State’s annual revenue? Won’t taxes, therefore, soon be doubled?
Or is there political change coming which will pull us back from the brink? That’s what these presumably savvy wealthy people appear to be betting on. Even Gideon Fountain, noted real estate sage, joined these “betters” recently by buying additional Greenwich property. Oh, the excitement of it all!
Additional examples of recent mega-sales:
460 North Street fetches the nice, round sum of $22M. List: Helene Barre Sell: Fran Ehrlich
50 Byram Drive, Belle Haven waterfront, a steal at $12.650M. List: Ginger DeSimone Sell: Shelly Tretter Lynch
11 Cove Road, OG waterfront, new-construction, gets $6.9M. List: Mark O’Brien Sell: Gideon Fountain (yay!)
Note to mobile device users: For now, photos on those links above can only be seen using your desktop computer (you do own one of those don’t you? Over there by your land-line phone?). I will continue to pester (those geniuses at) Houlihan Lawrence World-Headquarters to fix this once ‘n for all!
460 North Street, just closed at $22M. Five owners over twenty years, none did better than this one! List: Helene Barre. Sell: Fran Ehrlich.
As I mentioned earlier, way back in June, 1997, I sold this place for the pocket-change amount of $4,700,000. Besides the 2.5% sell-side commission, listing broker Ogilvy had arranged for a selling bonus of $40,000, so I celebrate that June 16th closing date each year with a fine cigar.
Twenty years, and five owners later, 460 North Street has closed again, this time for the somewhat more impressive price of $22,000,000. The ask was $20M, so was there a bidding war? My guess is no. I think that extra $2M was for furnishings, possibly even a few pieces of art (see photos)?
Each of the previous owners of 460 North Street put their “stamp” on it, lavishing millions in renovations, decorations, and expansions. Some made money, some did not. This most recent owner paid $7,987,250 in 2012, so I suspect money was made this time.
A century’s a long time, a lot can happen in a hundred years, but I’m prepared to bestow the title of “Bargain Of The Century” upon this (heavily deed-restricted*) spectacular house and property right now.
107 Meadow Road, former home of Mrs. Donna Brace Ogilvy, closed this week for $3,700,000. To give you an idea how cheap that is, consider the sale of 70 Meadow Road, a few doors away, which fetched $6,350,000, back in 2012. For that, you got a, um, imposing, classic old Tudor mansion on 2.1 acres in the R-20 zone. Naturally, the Tudor was torn down faster than you can say Jack Robinson, and THREE building lots were created. Each now has a spanking-new mansion sitting on it (one sold last month for $6,2000,000).
70 Meadow Road sold in 2012 for $6.350M. It quickly became three building lots.
Beginning to get the picture? That 2.1-acre parcel yielded three building lots. How many lots could you have carved out of Mrs. Ogilvy’s? With 3.21 acres in the R-20 zone, you’re about an inch short of SEVEN BUILDING LOTS, so, to be conservative, let’s say the Town allowed five lots. Properly configured, all of those lots, measuring around 28,000 sq. ft each, would have had great, high-elevation views of Tod’s Point and Long Island beyond.
So what would five 28,000 square foot lots, with beautiful water views, at the end of hyper-valuable Meadow Road be worth? A bare minimum of $2,500,000 each. Would a builder have paid $12,500,000 for the whole thing? Who knows. But surely $10,000,000 would have been a no-brainer. The difference, therefore, between true market value and the value after Mrs. Ogilvy laid down those restrictive covenants was at least $6,300,000!
When you have bought one of the most impressive properties in Riverside, that includes a classic, high-ceilinged mansion, the inside of which you can improve any way you see fit, and you save yourself $6,300,000 in the process, you have gotten a bargain.
* The actual deed restrictions run 7+ pages or so, but here’s the gist of it:
“Only the existing residential dwelling, for single family use and occupancy, with all improvements related thereto, shall be maintained upon the Property…”
And here is the entire list of restrictions, if you feel like plowing through it:
460 North Street, asking $20M, now has pending deal (historians will note that this was Gideon Fountain’s first “big deal”, way back in June, 1997, when it sold for a paltry $4.7M). This time around, it’s Helene Barre, list, Fran Ehrlich sell.
116 Oneida Drive, waterfront off Bruce Park (kinda/sorta) asked $25M, now has pending deal. List: David Ogilvy. Sell: Brian Milton.
If you’re a poor schlub selling Greenwich real estate in, say, the $3M’s, you would have to sell around 7 houses just to reach what brokers Brian Milton and David Ogilvy, Helene Barre and Fran Ehrlich achieved in a single sale! That’s 7 contracts, 7 building inspections, 7 endless discussions about window treatments, in short… 7 months of real estate hell!
But along comes the above named 4 special brokers, and they knock it out in one transaction. Did they tell you in real estate school that things were going to be fair? No, they did not.
Anyway, no matter how ye slice it, padre, these two deals are very big news. Clearly, the State of CT’s diligent efforts to scare away the wealthy are, for the moment, failing. I’m not saying Hartford idiots won’t spit on their collective hands and really buckle down to work doubling taxes and regulations in the coming year, but so far, well, things are muddling along ok.
Note, I did not say things are booming. Truth is, sales volume’s down this year, and there continue to be odd little pockets of slow/or no activity. Certainly no one in the way-back country, well north of the Merritt Parkway, is satisfied with either the number of sales or the sales prices achieved.
And here’s a weird factoid: In 2014, formerly bullet-proof Old Greenwich had a great year in the $6M+ range. A total of 7 properties sold between $6,100,000 and $13,050,000. So what happened the following year? Nothing. Not one Old Greenwich sale reached $6M. 2016? Same thing, not one sale.
2017 went all the way to July before Old Greenwich finally got back above $6M, when two waterfront tear-downs closed in the $6M’s. So what happened? What was so special about 2014 that then turned bad for the next two and one half years? I am interested in your theory.
In addition to the above three that just happened, there are four more $7M+ deals about to get reported, including a $9,000,000-ish Lake Avenue mansion. The big stuff is selling again!
It’s been a long, hard slog since March 2009, but slowly, ever so slowly, property values in Greenwich’s so-called “back country” (loosely defined as beginning at about 2+ miles from downtown) are steadily regaining their losses.
Riverside and Old Greenwich recovered long ago, but other parts of town weren’t so lucky. For a while, there was even talk of new paradigms: “no one wants back country anymore, and certainly not 10,000 square feet” became a commonly held view.
But the market had other opinions. True, no one wanted your 10,000 square foot back country mansion at the price you paid for it, but when the priced dropped sufficiently low, suddenly someone stepped up to buy. I always felt that things couldn’t be that bad if you could still get, say, $5 1/2 million for the place you paid $8 million for.
Anyway, here we are in the middle of the summer for gosh sakes, and we have very big deals being made. The three above are officially reported on the MLS, but four more big deals are due out shortly, stand by…
75 Rock Maple, Greenwich (off Stanwich Road), $5,695,000. Came on May 24th, already has a deal! This was a very smart asking price. We’ll have to wait for the closing, but I won’t be surprised if it had a little bidding war. List: Helene Barre Sell: Max Wiesen
You want the truth? You can handle the truth, so here it is: houses priced $5,000,000-6,000,000 are trading quite nicely, thank you. How many? So far this year, we’re up to 11 closings, with 6 more pending. For all of 2016, we had a total of 12, so there, my friends, is another clear indicator of that “zippy” market I talked about..
There is a theory among brokers that these $5M-6M buyers are “yesterday’s $10M buyers” who are now spending less not because they don’t have the dough, but more out of a sense of caution. This could be true, I’m not sure, but as I wrote yesterday, I’m certain some percentage of $10M buyers just aren’t here anymore. They’ve stayed in Manhattan or they’ve gone to places like Florida.
Now consider this: If all the Greenwich property owners with houses on the market for $10M+ (there are 41 of them) suddenly decided they needed to sell RIGHT NOW, they would need to slash their asking prices by millions. That would quickly drive down the price of all these houses presently selling in the 5’s and 6’s.
But guess what? High-end Greenwich property owners almost never really “need” to sell. That’s why we have so many on the market celebrating their 5th anniversary, 6th, 7th, all the way up to a few that have been on for FOURTEEN YEARS. So all you sellers in the $5M+’s? Relax, your market value is safe.
1 Bramble Lane, Riverside, asking $4.295M, now has deal, my guess, closes around $4.150M. Back in June, 2008, the builder unloaded it for $4,050,000, probably thinking he’d made a narrow escape, but Riverside hung in there!. Can any other part of Town promise that kind of hold on value? List: Russ Pruner Sell: Barbara Wells
Those who know me well, know that I don’t throw words like “zippy” around lightly. No, I understand the significance of the word, and only use it when absolutely justified. Therefore, let me state for the record that we are experiencing a ZIPPY market!
Am I aware that the dominant political party in Hartford has taken us down the road-to-ruin, to the point where our finances now resemble pathetic Puerto Rico and Illinois? Yes, I am aware. If you actually add up all the (un-payable) billions and billions and billions we owe to the municipal-union pension funds, the State of CT is already effectively bankrupt. Not pretty.
And yet… people clearly still want to live in Fairfield County. Why is this? Are they unaware of the impending doom? Do they think a (Republican) savior will emerge?
Who knows. What I do know is that last year, as of this date, we’d had 89 closings. This year, same time period, we’re up to 169 (plus another 73 pending). That’s serious improvement.
The fly-in-the-ointment *? Of course, it’s the super high-end, just 3 sales this year for $8M+. 3 sales! Now we only have to get rid of the other 68 sitting on the market and we’re home free!
So why do Greenwich sales start to dwindle down when you pass the $6M mark? The reason stated above, certainly, but added to our miserable State financial picture, there’s the State’s continuing “war on the rich”, and the very, very rich don’t have to take it. If you’re a poor schlub barely making enough to spend $5,000,000 on a home, your work probably still ties you to the New York area. But I guarantee you that the $20,000,000 buyer is not tied to the New York area. And for now, that’s who’s leaving. You might think of them as canaries in the coal mine…