For What It’s Worth
New Houses of Note
Three new houses caught my eye last week. Louise Marasso’s listing at 23 Bote Road (off of lower Stanwich) is a completely renovated/expanded house with an asking price of $2,649,000. I think it’s worth it. Built by Mladen Sango of D.M. Home Improvements here in Greenwich it’s a beautiful house with great curb appeal and careful, finely detailed construction. I hadn’t met Mr. Sango before the broker open house but if this is typical of his work, you couldn’t go wrong using him for your own project. His cell phone # is (203) 570-0193. A very nice house.
Dancy Cassell’s listing at 15 Stillman Lane in Glenville is phenomenal. I toured it with Matt Matthews of this office and Matt, who has built an almost infinite number of top end houses in Conyer’s Farm and around town, thought it was the best new construction he’d seen in years. Good enough for me. $5,525,000 – a price, by the way, that had Matt wondering how Gardner, the builder, could deliver so much quality.
The other new construction I liked was Mark O’Brien’s (Greenwich Land Co.) house at 16 Grant Street in Old Greenwich. Mark has built a number of good houses in town and he’s continued that here. Again, top-finishes, rock solid construction and an intelligent use of space. The walk-out basement is huge, with hardwood flooring and all that sort of thing. $3,300,000, which will astonish long time residents of Grant Street and its adjoining neighbors but there you have it: Old Greenwich is changing.
And Speaking of Which
The Grant Street house has 5,700 sq. ft. of living space. That number includes the enormous basement which doesn’t count against FAR allotage (yet – the P&Z’s trying,though) but, by my calculations, you couldn’t build anything close to its size today, now that the FAR regulations have been reinstated. I’m no fan of huge houses but, to my eye, this house is appropriately sized and sits just fine on its lot. Admittedly, my eye has been reconditioned by all the new, large houses that have been erected in town, but drive by and decide for yourself whether the agony and infliction of economic havoc on Greenwich property owners by our P&Z is worth the pain. I think not.
Where Did You Go? Out. What Did You Do? Nothing.
The New York Times recently ran an article about a phenomenon a number of us Realtors have already observed (“us” being Martha Jeffrey and John Horton of my office – I didn’t believe them): kids don’t play outdoors much anymore. Oh, they’re limoed off to their Travel Soccer and semi-professional lacross teams but once practice is over they retreat inside to play videogames or prepare that essay that’s supposed to get them into Harvard. No pick-up games of baseball in the backyard for these kids-it would ruin their form, or something. In any event, the result is that houses are getting larger to accommodate all this indoor activity and yards are getting smaller. It’s a market-driven trend, not some evil conspiracy of builders and real estate agents; buyers don’t want large yards and do want more interior room.
Obviously, all this is a gross generalization and a tad exaggerated but not by all that much. For every buyer I represent who insists on a yard large enough to toss a ball around with his kids there must be five who shrug off a postage stamp sized yard with a comment like, “less yard work to worry about”. So, while I may not personally cheer the movement towards more house at the expense of yard, that’s what’s selling, and that’s why builders do it.
A newly-constructed house in Riverside finally sold last week after more than a year on the market. It was on a challenging street (highway roar) but, in my opinion, it would have sold much sooner and at a much higher price had its builder not departed from the traditional Colonial look in favor of – well, I don’t know what style he was after – Eastern European? It was a great house inside, and seemed well built, but its exterior looked like something that belonged on the Jersey Shore; most buyers who come to Greenwich aren’t interested in that. My advice here: unless you plan to stay in your house for the rest of your life and don’t care what your heirs get for the place, don’t personalize so much that it appeals only to you. How boring, I know, but if you want eclectic, head for Venice, California and buy a houseboat.
Fowl, Not Swine
That was Pintail Lane I referred to last week, not Pigtail. I have it correct on my computer, so I’m not taking the heat on this one. The house on Swan Terrace, by the way, never made it to open house and was gone within days. Builder or homeowner? Don’t know, yet.[update, 5/13 - home owner]