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



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…


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.

Is This A Zippy Market?

1 Bramble Lane, Riverside, asking $4.295M, now has deal, my guess, closes around $4.150M. Back in June, 2008, the builder unloaded it for $4,050,000, probably thinking he’d made a narrow escape, but Riverside hung in there!. Can any other part of Town promise that kind of hold on value? List: Russ Pruner  Sell: Barbara Wells

Those who know me well, know that I don’t throw words like “zippy” around lightly. No, I understand the significance of the word, and only use it when absolutely justified. Therefore, let me state for the record that we are experiencing a ZIPPY market!

Am I aware that the dominant political party in Hartford has taken us down the road-to-ruin, to the point where our finances now resemble pathetic Puerto Rico and Illinois? Yes, I am aware. If you actually add up all the (un-payable) billions and billions and billions we owe to the municipal-union pension funds, the State of CT is already effectively bankrupt. Not pretty.

And yet… people clearly still want to live in Fairfield County. Why is this? Are they unaware of the impending doom? Do they think a (Republican) savior will emerge?

Who knows. What I do know is that last year, as of this date, we’d had 89 closings. This year, same time period, we’re up to 169 (plus another 73 pending). That’s serious improvement.

The fly-in-the-ointment *? Of course, it’s the super high-end, just 3 sales this year for $8M+. 3 sales! Now we only have to get rid of the other 68 sitting on the market and we’re home free!

So why do Greenwich sales start to dwindle down when you pass the $6M mark? The reason stated above, certainly, but added to our miserable State financial picture, there’s the State’s continuing “war on the rich”, and the very, very rich don’t have to take it. If you’re a poor schlub barely making enough to spend $5,000,000 on a home, your work probably still ties you to the New York area. But I guarantee you that the $20,000,000 buyer is not tied to the New York area. And for now, that’s who’s leaving. You might think of them as canaries in the coal mine…


*how often is this a problem?

Biggest Sale Of The Year?

60 Oneida Drive (within the Indian Harbor Association neighborhood), asked $21.9M, sells for $19.250M.

60 Oneida Drive (within the Indian Harbor Association neighborhood), asked $21.9M, sells for $19.250M. List: Shelly Tretter Lynch  Sell: Anne Ward

What? It’s January, for heaven’s sake, yer telling me someone can’t top a lousy $19,250,000 sale before December 31, 2017?? Yes, that’s what I’m saying and I base this prediction on my recent conversations with high-end buyers and fellow brokers.

Bloomberg estimates “equities’ global market value has jumped $2 TRILLION since the election”., so our high-end buyers are feeling confident of the future, right? The answer is yes and no. They are confident of the national economy’s continued improvement, but they are uniformly concerned about Connecticut’s economy and its tax picture. Not one buyer or broker I spoke to expects (those idiots in) Hartford to do anything but more harm to Fairfield County.

General Electric’s recent departure is certainly the biggest “canary in the coal mine” so far, but plenty of lower profile financial services companies and hedge-funds have also cleared out, not to mention a gun company or two.

So, as Connecticut’s Governor Malloy and his legislative allies proudly maintain our fair state’s “business unfriendly” atmosphere, most expect it to get worse this year. And let’s not forget our big, fat estate tax, which chases away older zillionaires on a regular basis.

So yeah, it’s great to see such a big land sale, it’s encouraging, by golly. I just wish it was the beginning of a trend.

Note: that address-link for 60 Oneida Drive works better on your desktop than your mobile device.

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




Condo Sales Success On Steamboat/Oneida

One of the pricier units (closed at $5.650M) at 2 Oneida Drive, aka "Manero's parking lot"

One of the pricier units (closed at $5.650M) at 2 Oneida Drive, aka “Manero’s parking lot”. All eleven units sold instantly. Listing broker: Michele Tesei.

Unlike stocks, you cannot easily “short” a developer, and that’s a good thing, in the case of builder John Fareri, because you would lose money betting against him!

Fareri and team appeared to have a hard time initially getting the first phase of this project (development of the old Manero’s Restaurant land) sold, but that had more to do with the US government-caused real estate meltdown of 2008.

The next phase, eleven more luxury condos, some direct waterfront, completely sold out before they were even half finished. Named “The Harbor At Greenwich”, it’s located at the corner of Steamboat Road and Oneida Drive, across from the Delamar Hotel.  Prices ranged from $3,325,000 to $5,650,000.

I recall taking a client to the site many months ago. At the time, it was just a muddy field with the bare beginnings of site work.  My client wasn’t impressed and confidently predicted, “They’ll never get these prices!”  The client was terribly, terribly wrong.

Here’s the website: The Harbor At Greenwich

Here’s an alternative link to some of the listings: 2 Oneida Drive

Greenwich’s Most Successful Spec House

14 Meadow Lane: land sold for $8,725,000. Finished house got $32,500,000.

14 Meadow Lane: land sold for $8,725,000. Finished house got $32,500,000.

and it came with 14.48 acres, and more outbuildings than you could shake a stick at!

and it came with 14.48 acres, and more outbuildings than you could shake a stick at!

A misguided reader commented something to the effect that “buyers of spec houses get hosed when they try to sell them”. Completely untrue, of course, and I’ll prove it in my next post.

 In the meantime, can you name the most successful spec house in Greenwich history? You’ll recall, in my last post, I pointed out that local builders hope to get at least three times what they paid for the land when they sell the finished house. Well, this builder got 3.72 times the land cost!

 The address is 14 Meadow Lane, between Zaccheus Mead and Pecksland, and the land (included a nice but moldy stone house) sold for $8,725,000 in 2005. Six years later, in 2011, the finished new house got $32,500,000. Lots of risk in this deal, I admit, but what a pay-off!

 This had been the property of actors George C. Scott and Trish Vandevere for many years, and had sat largely unlived in for at least a decade. Every builder in town came to look at it, but all of them wanted multiple building lots. It’s a huge but relatively narrow property, so a nice, neat sub-division seemed unlikely.  

Eventually, a couple named “Ritch”, who lived around the corner, came along and apparently decided just one lot and one gigantic house would be the best use, and the market agreed.


14 Meadow Lane, broker credits:

Listing agent was Brad Hvolbeck (shhh…the “v” is silent)

Selling agent was Joann Erb


Greenwich Real Estate Is Up 18.75% Since 2010

73 Club Road, a land sale, fetched $8M in 2010.

73 Club Road, a land sale, fetched $8M in 2010.

My, but that sounds confident, does’t it? 18.75….such a precise sounding number, very impressive.

So, where did I get it? From these two sales:

73 Club Road, 12/2010

73 Club Road, 11/2013

It’s exceedingly rare to get a true “apples-to-apples” comparison in the field of real estate. Typically we deal with houses, and houses can be changed in small, but significant ways each time you get a new owner. Something as trivial as pretty wallpaper, clean windows, and better looking furniture can add hundreds of thousands to the price of a Greenwich home, and that higher sales price is then falsely attributed to a “market rise”.

Yet here, at 73 Club Road, Riverside, we have a rare opportunity to compare two sales of the same property, three years apart, where nothing was changed. It’s the same 2.62 acre waterfront parcel (in the 1-acre zone), the same 1950’s tear-down house, same view, same neighbors.

The result? $8,000,000 back in 2010, $9,500,000 yesterday. Ipso fatso*, Greenwich prices “must” be up 18.75%! Case closed.

* Otherwise intelligent people sometimes screw up words and phrases. “Ipso facto”, is amusingly corrupted as above, “statue” of limitations, is another. And let’s not overlook “supposably”.

73 Club Road, still a land sale, fetched $9.5M in 2013.

73 Club Road, still a land sale, fetched $9.5M in 2013.