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.

 

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.

Correcting Gideon’s Stats

Every once in a while, people make mistakes…

CurrentStats

All bloggers like to have readers, I am no exception. The only annoying part is when some of those readers question the Great One’s statistics. Just such a case has now presented itself.

You’ll recall that I recently compared the 2016 numbers to 2017’s using the Greenwich Board o’ Realtors site that all brokers use, something called “FlexMLS”. On that site I entered this criteria: “single-family Greenwich closings with contract dates between Jan. 1, 2016 and June 5, 2016”. That produced a figure of 89 sales.

Ask that same question, but change the year to 2017 and what do you get? 169 sales, almost a 90% increase! (I’ve just tried it again, and this time, I got slightly different numbers, yeesh!)

That number is apparently inaccurate, so I guess I cannot rely on the search method I’m using, not because the actual MLS numbers are wrong, but possibly because the search program mysteriously retains sales from the previous search that don’t belong in the new, changed search? I don’t know, I don’t care.

From now on, I’ll rely on Houlihan Lawrence’s excellent statistics. They’re clearly presented, easy to understand, and never wrong.

The long and short: Greenwich sales figures are indeed up this year over last, but not 90%, sadly, instead a more modest 6.9%. Sigh.

Click on that link below the picture to see an excellent year-by-year comparison.

What’s Selling Well In Greenwich Right Now

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.

 

 

 

 

Finally, An End To Waterfront Hegemony!

41 Meadow Wood Drive, Belle Haven, ask $9,000,000 (started at $29M seven years ago, by golly!)

Yes friends, it’s happened at last! Finally, finally, finally…a truly big sale (ask was $9,000,000) has occurred and it’s not on the water!

Wait..what? It is?? Oh, crap.

Truth is, I just wanted to use the word “hegemony” in a sentence, but of course this is waterfront, that’s all that’s selling in the $6M+ category. Will this situation ever change?

Two More Bellwethers

200 Guards Road, Conyers Farm, Greenwich, closes for $13,500,000. List: Michele Tesei. Sell: BK Bates

These two sales, one at the high-end, one at the low-end, tell you everything you need to know about the state of Greenwich’s real estate market.

Starting with the high-end, a Conyers Farm sale for $13,500,000: this sale dispels the myth that “no one wants these big, backcountry estates anymore”. Yes, they do, and they will buy when the price looks right. It started at $27,895,000 and found no takers for two years, four price reductions, and two brokers.

But when the ask got down to $17,500,000, lo and behold, a buyer appeared! Do you see the message in that last sentence? It’s not that people didn’t want Conyers Farm and the backcountry, it’s just that they don’t value it the way they did 15 years ago. That, too, will change some day, so people buying Conyers now will reap the benefit as surely as those who bought Manhattan co-ops in the 1970’s.

11 Dialstone Lane, Riverside, likely tear-down, comes on for $1,095,000, gets an instant deal. List: Helen Maher. Sell: Danielle Scialpi-Malloy.

Next we have this low-end, Riverside tear-down example. At $1,095,000, this is really about as cheap as it gets in this part of town, south of Route 95. It came on the market Feb. 21st and had a deal about 10 minutes later. Hasn’t closed yet, so we don’t know the price (wouldn’t be surprised to see it went over ask), but the lesson here is buyers are SO ready to buy!

Whether it’s a builder who knows he can easily get high $2M’s, maybe low $3M’s on this site, or a young couple who might actually use the existing house, there is money waiting on the sidelines, ready to jump in when the price looks irresistible.

Despite the self-imposed headwinds coming from the economic illiterates in Hartford, people continue to want to live in Greenwich, and they will buy your real estate. All you have to do is price it right. So simple.

Bellwether Sales

10 Copper Beech Rd has closed at $6,400,000 (but sold for $8,050,000 in 2008.

As every school child knows, a bellwether is a “predictor or indicator of things”, so, as I’ve said before, laziness compels me to look for bellwethers. I want short-cuts to help me assess the state of the market. Why spend hours analyzing dozens and dozens of recent sales when you can just point at one or two and proclaim, “There’s your damned market, right there!”

So here’s one of my bellwethers:

10 Copper Beech, as seen above. What is so painful about this one, besides the $1,650,000 difference between 2008’s and 2017’s price, is that these owners did everything right; the house was absolutely perfect inside, each and every room just beautiful. Even the [flipping] furnace room was a work of art, I kid you not.

Yup, it was perfect, no indication of being nine years old, might as well have been built this year. And the reward for all this perfection? $1.650M less, plus the additional money put into it since purchase. Very unfair and definitely worrisome for the Greenwich high-end sector.

My next bellwether:

20 Gilliam Lane, Riverside, closed at $2,150,000.

Here’s another one where the sellers did everything possible (they even increased the lot size!) and the market nevertheless delivered a swift kick to the @#%. I grew up (so to speak) next to this property, know it well, and always pay special attention to its selling price every time it comes back on the market. Here’s how it’s worked out the last few times:

1995:  $937,100.

2006:  $2,355,000.

2011:  $2,150,000.

2017:  $2,150,000.

Believe you me, each one of those sellers added plenty of value to the property, particularly the most recent ones, who did beautiful decorating and paint work, added a full-house generator, updated baths, and, get this, they had the property re-surveyed and discovered it wasn’t the .24 acres they thought they had bought, but was instead .3661 acres!

You mathematicians in the audience will perceive that is over FIFTY PERCENT more property! It went from having zero FAR remaining, to being able to add more than 500 square feet, a significant improvement. Oh, and did I mention that they piped the stream, and filled the gulley in the rear, creating a new, flat back yard? Huge improvement.

The market’s reaction? Ho-hum…what have you done for us lately? Sorry, we’ll pay you exactly what you paid 6 years ago.

And that, my friends, sums up this market: Our buyers are feeling optimistic, their jobs are secure, their stock portfolio way up, but for real estate purchases, they are cautious. They will buy, but they do so almost reluctantly, and if they have their way, they will pay you less than whatever you paid.