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)




The House Buyers’ Biggest Mistake

304 Taconic Road closes today at $4,350,000. I’ve already used the phrase “bargain of the century” on some other property, but dammit, this was a STEAL! Started at $15.950M in 2009.  This buyer did well, but lots of other buyers passed it up, even when it was already a bargain (anything below $7M was a great deal).
List: Shelly Tretter Lynch
Sell: Marianne Scipione

The typical buyer’s biggest mistake is not believing it when the broker says, “There’s nothing wrong with this property. The reason it’s been on so long is because  the initial asking price was too high”.

The most alert among you will, after reading my previous post, realize that if over-pricing causes properties to sell for far below their actual market value, then obviously those must be the smartest properties to buy! And you would be right, except for one teensie-weensie little problem: buyers remain convinced that a “stale” property has some hidden defect and there’s a “real” reason it hasn’t sold that the broker won’t disclose.
And of course, this near-universal suspicion causes stale listings to drop even further in price. That’s fine for the buyer who finally gets it, but plenty of other buyers miss their chance as it is drops further and further into the true bargain range.

Here is an example: a $6,000,000 property starts out foolishly priced at $8,000,000. A year later, it is marked down to, say, $6,995,000. Another year goes by, and it’s down to $5,995,000. You could pick it up at this point for $5,500,000 and you would be saving $500,000 from it’s “true” value of $6M.

But of course, no one touches it at this point because, after two years of sitting on the market, it has become stigmatized: “something must be wrong with it”, say the buyers.

So now the sellers have to keep reducing it in order to make the place such an incredible bargain that it overcomes the stigmatization. What price will do the trick? For this example, it will probably have to drop to $4,995,000. At this price, there’ll be a last-minute flurry of activity and possibly multiple offers. It will likely close at that last asking price of $4.995M. Did the buyer get a deal? Unquestionably. But suppose you picked it up 4 months earlier at $5,300,000? Not quite as good a deal, but you could have had it all to yourself back then, with no one competing against you.

Here’s the moral to the story: Don’t wait till the bitter end. If your broker tells you it’s a bargain, buy it  now! If you don’t believe your broker, get a different broker. And finally, when you’re out looking, by all means look at all the new-to-market stuff, but also have your broker put together a package of all the listings in your price-range that have been on the market for one year or more. That is where the bargains are hiding.


107 Meadow Road: Bargain Of The Century?

107 Meadow Road, Riverside. Started at $6.995M, just closed at $3.7M. List: Monie Sullivan. Sell: Ann Simpson. Note: if the damned Houlihan link doesn’t show photos, try this one, from (the idiots at) Zillow: https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/107-Meadow-Rd,-Riverside,-CT-06878_rb/?fromHomePage=true&shouldFireSellPageImplicitClaimGA=false&fromHomePageTab=buy

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:

Click to access meadowrdeasement.pdf



What’s Become Of The High-End Market?


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




Havemeyer Park Building Lot

39 Northridge Road, asked $799,000, GOT $965,000.

39 Northridge Road, asked $799,000, GOT $965,000. List: Bill Andruss. Sell: Andy Healy.

“Havemeyer Park” is on the Town of Greenwich’s eastern border, one side of Havemeyer Lane is Old Greenwich, the other is Stamford. Other streets in this neighborhood are named after famous WWII military figures, so you’ve got MacArthur Drive, Halsey, Nimitz, and Marshall. In addition, there’s Northridge Road, Old Wagon, a bunch of others.

A lot of it is zoned R-7, (FAR = .36) so even the smaller lots have plenty of building potential, plus, this has been one of the last bargain spots in town. Got the picture? No? Well take a good look at the picture above, because that little shack is a typical example of what Havemeyer Park used to be all about.

World War II ended, servicemen returned home to Greenwich, and found there was no “affordable” housing, so the Town modified the zoning for this section and authorized the building of about 100 of these nice little homes. They sold for around $15,000, (possibly funded by George Bailey of the Bailey Bros. Building & Loan Company).

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, 39 Northridge Road! Listing agent, Bill “Blabbermouth” Andruss* brought this baby on for $799,000 way back in March. Was it underpriced? Sure! Was that a mistake? Hell no! As always, underpricing worked its magic, and the end result was it closed today for $965,000, $166,000 over ask.

For that, selling broker Andy Healy’s client gets .29 acres in the R-7 zone, which means our busy little Building Department will (graciously) allow 4,547 square feet of above-ground living space, that’s a lot of house.

It hasn’t happened overnight, but over the last decade, this whole neighborhood has gained substantially, and it looks like there’s plenty more growth to come.


*kidding about Bill, he’s the complete opposite!

Greenwich Bargain Of The Year?

1141 King Street, Greenwich, CT, asking $2.250M, bargain of a lifetime?

1141 King Street, Greenwich, CT, asking $2.250M, bargain of a lifetime? (click on photo to expand)

19.14 acres of pastoral Greenwich meadow for a lousy $2,250,000? Sure, it’s close enough to Westchester’s adorable little airport that you could count empty seats on the commuter jets flying overhead, but still, take a look at the aerial views, this is beautiful land!

Besides the airport, you’re also mere steps away from some of the best golf courses on the east coast, and two of Greenwich’s finest private schools. This is a bargain. You said you wanted a bargain? Here it is, go buy it.

Note: It’s listed by Jean Ruggiero at Real Living, but I can’t pick it up on their damned web-site!

The Test

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19 Indian Head Road, $5.2M and an absolute bargain! Listing broker Heather Platt.

This place is the test, or maybe it’s the answer. Should you bother to renovate an older home, and will anyone buy it when you’re done?

19 Indian Head Road in Riverside came on the market eleven days ago for $5,200,000. It’s simply one of the best renovation/expansions I’ve seen and if it doesn’t get  a quick deal, I’ll be amazed and also alarmed.

Listing broker is Heather Platt, and I haven’t checked in with her lately, so it’s possible she already has a deal. I’ll find out tomorrow and update this post.

But holy [cow]! What if it hasn’t sold? What would that mean for the idea of preserving older houses? Because right now, Riverside’s got a slightly swollen inventory of beautifully renovated (or at least, preserved, in one case) antique homes, all with high ceilings, all in great locations, and there they sit, unloved.

Meanwhile, a spec house next door goes up, gets staged, and sells. Not good news for the oldies.

Just a few examples:

Every one of these Riverside beauties is spectacularly renovated (and/or preserved), yet there they sit. But show the market a shiny new spec house, with no character, no charm, no history, and bing! it’s gone in 60 seconds.







The Next Bidding War?

24 Indian Field Road: rough shape yes, but at $550,000, it's a steal.

24 Indian Field Road: rough shape yes, but at $550,000, it’s a steal.

I drove by this place yesterday and peeked in the windows. It looks like a former occupant might have been a bit of a hoarder, there appeared to be cardboard boxes stacked to the ceiling. Oh, and according to the remarks, there is “water damage from a broken pipe”.

One could also gripe about the relatively busy street it’s on, and the proximity of the gas stations, but at $550,000, you can dismiss these petty objections! A price like that in Greenwich puts it near the bottom of our price range, so you take what you can get.

And what you get isn’t all that bad. The property is .3 acres in the R-7 zone, so that means it’s practically a double lot, and it backs up to a fairway of the Milbrook Golf Club. I stood in back yesterday and was amazed by how quiet it was. It dawned on me that this was potentially a good deal.

So what will the market think? I predict the price will be bid up by quite a bit, maybe all the way to $700,000+, who knows? And I think this was smart pricing, either by broker Julianne Ward, or the seller, or both.

Let’s watch this one and see how a (apparent) strategy of under-pricing plays out, shall we?


alternative link if the one above gets disabled: 24 Indian Field Road, Greenwich, CT

More red meat for the base

At long, long, last, 12 Byfield Lane finally finds a buyer at $4.475M

At long, long, last, 12 Byfield Lane finally finds a buyer at $4.475M

I hesitate to post this one because it will fire up all the doomsayers, but…oh, what the heck!

Ok, so what we have here is one of the very last of the leftovers, a perfect example of the exuberant, happy days of the late 2000’s, just before the US Government’s 25-year policy of forcing mortgage lenders to first loosen, then finally abandon altogether, any credit standards whatsoever, all in the name of “equal opportunity”, caused a horrible, cataclysmic economic catastrophe in the fall of 2008.

I actually met this particular builder, seemed like a nice enough chap, although his apparent permanent costume of Hawaiian shirts, jeans and cowboy boots gave me pause (so did the bright red Dodge Viper sports car). Yep, I said to myself, too many people getting into this mansion-building business, can’t be a good sign.

The house pictured above hit the market August 20, 2009, at a price of $11,999,999. I can just imagine the conversation among the principals…”If we keep it under twelve million, we should do ok here”. But  the writing was on the wall by then, in big, bold letters: YOU MISSED THE MARKET, IT’S OVER!

Eventually, some poor bank ended up with it, and now, six long, agonizing years later, it has sold for $4,475,000. Truth is, that’s not a bad price. Had they put it on way back then at, say, $6.995M, they probably could have picked up a couple extra million, but either way, I’m sure the bank is happy it’s over.

12 Byfield Lane, Greenwich, CT (honestly, it’s not a bad house!)

Note: the link above takes you to the second-to-last listing because I wanted you to see the photos, which are not included on the very last listing.