How’s The Market?

9 Manor Road, Old Greenwich closes today at $2,772,500, new street record. Note: non-MLS sale, only one photo available.
List: Allen Vetrosky
Sell: Lindsay Sheehy

2018 is a mere three days old, but there are already signs of a promising market. When you see new street price records being set, that is surely a positive sign, no?

Exactly. I was thrilled, therefore, to see 51 Glen Avon, asking price $15,900,000, get signed up in December. The previous record for Glen Avon/Club Road area was $9,500,000 and this new record price is reportedly in the $15Ms (closes in a few weeks).

51 Glen Avon, Riverside. Asked $15,900,000.

2018 RECORD BREAKERS:

9 Manor Road, Old Greenwich (top picture) just closed at $2,772,500. Previous street record was $1,385,000 !

12 Nimitz Place, Old Greenwich just went to contract. Ask is $2,195,000. Previous record for Nimitz? $1,775,000.

12 Nimitz Place, Old Greenwich. Asked $2.195M (builder paid $812K for tear-down)

Despite all of Connecticut’s problems, people still insist on living here. Say Hallelujah!

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Some Make Money, Others Not So Much

19 Doverton Drive, Greenwich has closed at $7,970,000.

I recently sold a new-construction, 6,800 square foot, waterfront house for $6,900,000. The builder swore he was losing money at any price below $7.2M. He paid $3.5M for the land two years ago, so there were carrying costs, plus plenty of added site-development costs associated with the Town’s excessive (insane) regulations for direct-waterfront building.

But how much per square foot does typical luxury construction cost a Greenwich builder? $300 per foot? $400 per foot? At $400/ft., the 6,800 sq.ft. house I sold would have cost the builder $2,720,000. Add land cost of $3,500,000, and you’re up to $6,220,000. That suggests a $680,000 “profit” for two year’s effort. Better than an outright loss, but not by much.

Now we have two new examples to study: backcountry Greenwich’s Doverton Drive, off Round Hill Road, has seen the recent sale of two spec houses, one a likely success, the other, less so

Very nearby, someone has just shelled out $25M for a classic old mansion on almost 20 acres, so let us agree, this is a fine neighborhood. But fine neighborhood or not, even experienced builders can go astray, either by paying too much for the land, or, more typically, by over-pricing at the beginning. Nothing, absolutely NOTHING dooms a project more completely than initial gross over-pricing. Copy and paste that last sentence on parchment paper, get it framed, and hang it in your dressing closet where you will see it every day.

Example 1:  19 Doverton Drive (pictured above)

  • Sold for $7,970,000. (initial asking price $8,800,000)
  • Square footage: 12,117
  • Land cost: $2,525,000
  • Start-to-finish: 2 years
  • $300 per foot X 12,117 = $3,635,100 + (land cost) $2,525,000 = $6,160,100.
  • Possible profit: $1,809,900?

 

1 Doverton Drive, Greenwich just closed at $6,600,000. (For various reasons, I much preferred this one over the other)

Example 2:  1 Doverton Drive (above)

  • Sold for $6,600,000 (initial asking price $10,950,000)
  • Square footage: 10,767
  • Land cost: $2,650,000
  • Start-to-finish: 2 years
  • $300 per foot X $10,767 = $3,230,100 + (land cost) $2,650,000 = $5,880,100.
  • Possible profit: $719,900?

12 Huge Sales In Last 48 Days

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

24 Hendrie Drive Extension (off OG’s Edgewater Drive) gets $9M even. List: Sheila Goggin   Sell: Carolyn Petersen.

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!

 

 

 

$2,000,000 Over The Asking Price

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.

Greenwich Mansions Selling Again

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.

 

The Back Country Continues Its Comeback

74 Upper Cross Road, $9,750,000, now has deal. List: Lyn Stevens Sell: TBD

 

French Road (off lower Round Hill), $9,395,000, now has deal. List: Joann Mancuso Sell: Robin Kencel (and boy, can she!)

19 Doverton Drive, $8,498,000, now has deal. List: Julie Church Sell: Susan Isaak

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…

 

Very Good News For Greenwich Real Estate

6 Plow Lane, Greenwich (off Old Church Rd) closes at $5,155,000, one of 17 such closings in this price category so far this year.
List: Joan Epand
Sell: Bryan Tunney

Let’s consider the price category of $5,000,000 to $6,000,000, shall we? Last year, on this date, we’d had 7 closings. So far this year, it’s 13. You mathematicians will instantly see we’ve almost doubled last year’s result.

For the entire year of 2016, 17 properties priced between $5M and $6M closed. For this year, I predict 30+.

So things are looking good, and yes, I know there are endless reasons why they shouldn’t be, but perhaps, as with the stock market, real estate climbs on a wall of worry? Who knows.