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



Including But Not Limited To…

The view from 107 Meadow Road, $6.995M. No show till after broker open house on Thursday and guess what? All Thursday appointment times are already reserved. Sounds like plenty of demand to me!

The view from 107 Meadow Road, $6.995M. No show till after broker open house on Thursday and guess what? All Thursday appointment times are already reserved. Sounds like plenty of demand to me!

UPDATE: It occurs to me that burdening the word “including” with “but not limited to” is like the hideous phrase, “close proximity”, that is, the adding of a completely unnecessary qualifier. Other examples would be “very unique”, “over exaggerate”, etc.

It’s the kind of annoying crud that litters our language these days, and as usual, lawyers get the blame. A modern group of lawyers, tasked with re-writing the greatest document ever created, the US Constitution, would quickly balloon it to   twenty thousand pages.

See that weasely, lawyerly phrase in my title? It’s used by lawyers because other lawyers (especially the ones permitted to parade around in black robes) like to play a little game of “we didn’t know what you meant”.

Long ago some judge probably ruled against someone, declaring that the word “including” was not clear enough, and from that point onward, lawyers never miss a chance to add “…but not limited to”.

People who hope to sound lawyerly now add this repulsive phrase to normal, non-legal documents, very tedious, don’t you agree?

Anyway, so getting back to the case of 107 Meadow Road, the $6,995,000 property and its astoundingly restrictive covenant (you can’t alter the exterior of the existing building in any way): will anyone buy it? The covenant is positively filled with “including but not limited to’s”, and the owner has fully empowered The Greenwich Land Trust to enforce its provisions, so if you plan to buy the property and have your team of lawyers overturn the restrictions, I think you will lose.

But do you really need to overturn the restrictions? I predict there will be plenty of buyers who’ll take it, restrictions and all. They will like this house and have no problem whatsoever being limited to interior improvements only. How do I know? Nantucket. They have exactly this kind of architectural restrictions on older buildings. Have you checked Nantucket prices lately? They’re rather high…

107 Meadow Road, listed by Monie Sullivan


P.S. Note the similarity in the view above to this one from 531 Indian Field Road, which sold a few years ago for $18,000,000, then $25,000,000 more recently!


Who Keeps The 10% Deposit, Part II

Sorry, aggrieved seller, but you DO NOT get to keep the 10% deposit! (sometimes)

Sorry, aggrieved seller, but you DO NOT get to keep the 10% deposit! (sometimes)

The great real estate attorney, Joel Kaye,  has sent me a copy of a recent court decision regarding the question, “What happens if the buyer walks away from the contract, does he lose his 10% deposit?”.

This is somewhat dense, but interesting reading, so if you’d care to plow through 12 pages of  Stamford Superior Court Judge Mottolese’s fine dissertation on the astounding case of “Hammond vs. Miller”, feel free, but I can spare you the trouble. Despite the skepticism of two smart-alec readers, my summation of the issue in a previous post was, as the Brits like to say, spot-on!

To re-state: If the buyer breaches the contract, the seller, in order to keep the entire 10% deposit, must fulfill his duty to make reasonable efforts to mitigate his damages. “Mitigate”, in the case of real estate contracts, means the seller must try and find another buyer, and if the replacement buyer agrees to pay the same amount as the previous buyer, then the seller is only entitled to whatever actual costs were incurred in having to go and find that replacement buyer. Got it?  Apologies accepted.