Now THIS Is More Like It…

200 Guards Road, Conyers Farm: as good as it gets. last ask $17.5M. List: BK Bates

200 Guards Road, Fabulous house on 31 acres in Conyers Farm: as good as it gets. Last ask $17.5M.
List: BK Bates and Michelle Tesei

Was it only last Tuesday that the Connecticut Post was telling us about the latest Hartford plan to drive out the last remaining profitable business in Connecticut? I believe so, but perhaps because this particular tax plan is actually opposed by the Governor (is that possible?) maybe we can limp along for another year, by golly.

Anyway, today’s big news is that a deal has been struck for a spectacular Conyers Farm property which was asking $17,500,000. A previous broker started it at $27,895,000, carried it through two price reductions over the next year and nine months, but ultimately was shown the door.

I’ve heard it a hundred times, from brokers like Julianne Ward and others, it’s better to just say no to a listing that you know is grossly overpriced. Instead of taking the listing at a crazy price, what you do is this: Make an impressive presentation to the sellers, and include in that presentation a skillful defense of your recommended price.

You will (likely) then be rejected by the sellers, who will instead give the listing to the broker with the crazy price, BUT, a year or two down the road, the sellers, realizing you were right all along, will call you up and appoint you as the second listing broker. That’s where you want to be, that’s how this game is played.

On the other hand, it can be hard to resist one of these big “trophy listings”. After all, your firm gets lots and lots of advertising value from it, you get the prestige boost, which can lead to other big listings, and hey, there’s always the possibility you’ll persuade the sellers to g-r-a-a-d-u-a-l-l-y lower the price, who knows?

I have no idea how things went down with this particular listing, it’s entirely possible that first asking price was the owner’s idea to begin with. In any case, this is a very significant and useful sale. It shows continuing life in the high-end, and in particular, the backcountry high-end.

List: BK Bates & Michelle Tesei

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Biggest Sale Of The Year?

60 Oneida Drive (within the Indian Harbor Association neighborhood), asked $21.9M, sells for $19.250M.

60 Oneida Drive (within the Indian Harbor Association neighborhood), asked $21.9M, sells for $19.250M. List: Shelly Tretter Lynch  Sell: Anne Ward

What? It’s January, for heaven’s sake, yer telling me someone can’t top a lousy $19,250,000 sale before December 31, 2017?? Yes, that’s what I’m saying and I base this prediction on my recent conversations with high-end buyers and fellow brokers.

Bloomberg estimates “equities’ global market value has jumped $2 TRILLION since the election”., so our high-end buyers are feeling confident of the future, right? The answer is yes and no. They are confident of the national economy’s continued improvement, but they are uniformly concerned about Connecticut’s economy and its tax picture. Not one buyer or broker I spoke to expects (those idiots in) Hartford to do anything but more harm to Fairfield County.

General Electric’s recent departure is certainly the biggest “canary in the coal mine” so far, but plenty of lower profile financial services companies and hedge-funds have also cleared out, not to mention a gun company or two.

So, as Connecticut’s Governor Malloy and his legislative allies proudly maintain our fair state’s “business unfriendly” atmosphere, most expect it to get worse this year. And let’s not forget our big, fat estate tax, which chases away older zillionaires on a regular basis.

So yeah, it’s great to see such a big land sale, it’s encouraging, by golly. I just wish it was the beginning of a trend.

Note: that address-link for 60 Oneida Drive works better on your desktop than your mobile device.

What’s Become Of The High-End Market?

piercephoto

2 Pierce Road, Riverside: asked $12,000, got $11,500 1st year, $12,500 2nd yr., $13,000 thereafter. Listing agent Gideon Fountain   Renting agent: Julie Lowe.

See that rental above? It rented quickly and easily, hooray! And lots and lots of other properties in town are renting quickly and easily, in all price ranges, isn’t that wonderful?

You sense my sarcasm… I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but this business is about selling stuff. Rentals, as I’ve explained previously, are all well and good, but sales, my friends, sales, that’s why we’re here!

To be accurate, properties are selling right now at a very nice clip, but there’s a price-ceiling that we can’t seem to crack; that ceiling starts at around $4,500,000. Below that number, plenty of sales, above, almost nothing.

And it’s not just Greenwich. Fellow brokers up the line, in towns like Stamford, Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk, they all report the same thing, little or no high-end sales (in Norwalk, that high-end starts around $1,500,000). Perplexing.

Pictured below is what I’d call a typical sale these days. Perfectly nice house, with what I thought for sure was a smart asking price, yet it took NINE MONTHS to get a deal. Anyway, plenty of these “cheapie” sales, but not enough of the big stuff…so far.

55 Wesskum Wood (on the hill overlooking Binney Park), Riverside. Asked $2.895M, Got $2.650M. List: Heather Platt Sell: Jill Miller

55 Wesskum Wood (on the hill overlooking Binney Park), Riverside. Asked $2.895M, Got $2.650M. List: Heather Platt Sell: Jill Miller

 

 

 

How Real Estate Gets Sold

17 Hemlock Drive, central ("in-town") Greenwich, last ask $6.995M, now has deal.

17 Hemlock Drive, central (“in-town”) Greenwich, last ask $6.995M, now has deal. List: Marjorie Pastel   Sell: Julie Chen

At first blush, this might look like a disappointing result. It started at $11,000,000 a little over a year ago, had three price reductions, down to $6,995,000, and finally, finally gets a deal.

So, did the broker over-price it or was it the owners? I don’t even care, because either way, that one-year process is completely normal, particularly in this price range. Even if the broker had recommended an initial ask of $6.995M (which might have triggered a bidding-war), there is no way on earth the sellers would have agreed to it and, in fact, they probably would have given the listing to a different broker!

As a broker, you get absolutely nowhere in this town by suggesting a sensible asking price. There are exceptions, of course, like the case last month where a broker recommended an asking price of $4,200,000 to a waterfront seller. The seller thought that was “too high”, and told the broker to list it for $3,700,000, and guess what?  A bidding war erupted, and it’s selling for…$4,200,000!

But that sort of seller is as rare as can be. Greenwich sellers, you’ll recall have three favorite sayings:

We don’t need to sell!

We’re in no hurry!

All it takes is one!

That’s simply a fact of life around here, and brokers have had to adapt to it. You price where the sellers tell you to, and you “try” that price for as many months as they can stand. Eventually they get sick of the process and, if you’re a good broker, who’s been communicating market data to the client the entire time, you are still there when they’re ready to cut the price!

All indications suggest listing broker Marjorie Pastel did everything right.

 

A High-End Sale: Yay!

16 Chimney Corner Lane, last ask $9,295,000, now has deal.

16 Chimney Corner Lane, last ask $9,295,000, now has deal.

It took a few months and a few price reductions, but David Ogilvy’s spectacular listing on Chimney Corner Lane has found a buyer, thanks to Houlihan broker Lindsay Sheehy.

I really, really like to see signs of life in this price category, it makes me think perhaps there’s hope yet for Connecticut, but if I could pick and choose, I guess I’d be even happier if something in this range was selling in the backcountry. But what the hell, it’s still great news.

Meanwhile, the place next door, now similarly priced, has been sitting around, on and off the market, for…for… (wait for it)… TWELVE YEARS.

But never mind next door, click on the listing link above, I think you’ll be impressed. This place is truly beautiful, an example of  great elegance, and expense-no-object decorating and finishes, but somehow not overwhelming or show-offy. Anyway, that’s MY take.