The $1,000,000 Flip

37 Tower Road Riverside, with view over Willowmere pond and beyond, to Tod’s Point and Long Island.

Don’t you wish this would happen to you? The buyer of 37 Tower Road, Riverside paid $6,300,000 on April 12th of this year. On August 3rd, according to Greenwich Patch, it sold again, this time for $7,300,000 to a Mr. Herman Apple Pye! Apparently Pye-guy really, REALLY wanted this place and was willing to pay the new owner a $1,000,000 premium (this kind of thing drives appraisers crazy).

We’re not talking about bidding wars here. These are cases where someone approaches the new owner of a property and says, what’s it gonna take?

How rare is this in Greenwich? Fairly rare, but not that rare. It happens about once or twice per year. The town attracts wealthy people and when they lose out on something, they tend not to take no for an answer…

Other examples where a frustrated buyer approached a new owner and paid a fat premium:

558 Round Hill Road, Greenwich. Sold for $3.5M, then re-sold for $4.750M.

558 Round Hill Road, Greenwich

sold August 5, 2013 for $3,500,000

sold again January 10, 2014 for $4,750,000.

 

63 John Street, Greenwich ,on 13.61 acres and pond. Sold for $5M, then quickly re-sold for $6M.

63 John Street, Greenwich

sold February 12, 2016 for $5,000,000.

sold again April 13, 2016 for $6,000,000  (dates approximate)

 

Tune in tomorrow for my radio show, we’ll talk about this and other vital topics: Wednesday 11:00 AM – 12:00 noon.

WGCH.com or 1490 AM on your damned radio!

 

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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)

 

 

 

Ogilvy Does It Again!

 

25 Lower Cross Road, Greenwich: mansion, outbuildings, 80 acres; the “jewel” of Conyers Farm.
Last Ask: $29M
Sold: $21M
List: David Ogilvy
Sell: David Ogilvy

Broker David Ogilvy has sold his own listing for $21,000,000. The historians among you will quickly recall he did the same thing with this property in 2004! Back then, in a better market for Greenwich’s “Conyers Farm”, 25 Lower Cross fetched $45,000,000. 13 years later and a loss of a paltry $24M, the deal has been done again.

One of the un-heralded skills of brokering is the ability to get your seller to throw in the towel and just let the property sell. In this case, the seller waited two years, which, in the current market, is the mere blink of an eye. There are presently a dozen or two high-end properties (almost all w-a-a-y back country) passing their 10th year on the market, so I’m impressed with what happened here.

But what else happened here? Why is this spectacular place, which the current owner made even more spectacular during his time of ownership, selling for such an enormous loss? It’s not as though market punishment is being spread evenly. No, Conyers Farm for some reason bears the brunt. Other parts of town, particularly waterfront, but even mid-country, have owners showing handsome profits after 10+ years of ownership. For the nonce, Conyers takes the hit, but I truly believe it will rise again.

2017: What A Year!

Here’s a review of this year’s super high-end sales, so far:

  • 9 Sabine Farm: $25M
  • 460 North Street: $22M
  • 25 Lower Cross Rd: $21M
  • 116 Oneida Drive: $20.377M
  • 60 Oneida Drive: $19.250M
  • 7 Cobb Island Drive: $15.250M
  • 200 Guards Road: $13.5M
  • 6 Meadowcroft Lane: $13.065M

Absolutely amazing.

 

Your Real Estate Has Two Prices

A recent sale of Riverside waterfront property saw $3M+ left on the table.

There is the price you can get in the first few weeks of  your listing, and there’s the price you get after sitting on the market for months and years.

A Greenwich seller has left $3,100,000 “on the table”. He was offered $9,600,000 two years ago, turned it down, and ended up accepting approximately $6,500,000 last week. It’s a classic case, not at all unusual in our market. In fact, the next example is likely right around the corner!

Here’s how it works (every single time):

  • Seller over-prices property.
  • Seller turns down early offers.
  • Seller waits months, possibly years, hoping to hear those offers again.

It’s such a common scenario that one can only conclude that this behavior pattern is built into our DNA.

Will you fall into this trap when it’s time to sell? Yes, you will. What about brokers? Surely they are experienced enough to avoid such foolish behavior when they list their own property, no? No. Brokers are even worse!

At any given time, the Greenwich market contains a dozen or so broker-owned properties that are for sale and they are almost always over-priced. And they sit, and they sit, and then? They sit some more. Experienced brokers commit the same error that they (presumably) have warned their clients of.

Remember that book  Freakonomics? It is full of interesting, useful, surprising facts about human behavior, but I had to laugh at the section devoted to real estate. According to the authors, real estate agents deliberately price your property low so it will sell quickly (oh no!), whereas, when they go to sell their own properties, they price them higher (gasp!). This hideous crime was apparently revealed by the authors’ study of real estate sales statistics in the Chicago area.

Maybe there’s a different type of human in Illinois, but here in CT, while it’s certainly true that brokers price their homes higher, it is also true that the market punishes them just as severely.

The corrosive effect of sitting on the market for months and years is so obvious, so proven, it is a wonder to me that professional appraisers still  don’t acknowledge it in their reports.

So here’s my ground-breaking proposal: Every real estate appraisal should come with two prices, the “early” price and the “late” price.

A sample concluding sentence of an appraiser’s report  might look like this:

Based upon recent and similar market transactions in the area, the market value of the subject is estimated to be in the $5,000,000 to $5,300,000 value range. In the event that the subject remains on the market for 6 or more months, the stated value range should be reduced by approximately 20%.*  

This would at least put banks, lawyers, and estates on notice. Heck, it might even end up influencing the behavior of sellers and brokers!

 

* That 20% drop is only the beginning, of course. After a year or two, your value can easily drop a total of 40-50%!

 

 

$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.

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…

 

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.