Land Values
I’ve recently noticed a number of what are basically tear-downs come on the market that are priced at $2,000,000 and above. That’s fine for certain addresses: Round Hill Road, for instance, but way too high, I think, for less expensive areas of town like Riverside and Old Greenwich (excluding waterfront, naturally). Think about it: if a builder pays $2,000,000 for a piece of land, he’ll need to get at least $4,500,000 for anything he builds there. Right now, the new construction I’m seeing in the areas I’m talking about are selling for between $3,000,000 and $3,500,000. Builders are great guys, but I doubt they want to build new spec houses for free. So if you’re selling your old, 1954 house on a third of an acre and you think that its worth $2,000,000, think again.

Penthouse Living
Gloria Chin Bestoff recently gave me a tour of her listing at 11 Lafayette Court, a one bedroom penthouse asking $899,000. I liked it. The views are spectacular: Long Island Sound, the New York skyline and during the summer, Gloria tells me, the Playland fireworks. Pretty cool. Everything: appliances, windows, wiring, etc. has been recently upgraded with the exception of the greenhouse – apparently the owner has the right to convert that to an outdoor terrace and was holding off work on the greenhouse while he made up his mind. Personally, I would trade the warmth and great winter-time ambiance of a greenhouse for a terrace, but either way, this is a very nice unit, in a great location. Comes with parking, too.

Private Schools and Real Estate
Real estate activity always slows down when public schools go on break but it seems to me that it really takes a hit when the private schools take vacation. “Seems to me” because I don’t have statistics to show that decline (I’m waiting for Bob Fossum at Shore & Country to do my work for me) but it was very, very quiet a few weeks ago. I’m not at all sure why, because surely not every home buyer sends his or her kids to Brunswick – check out Greenwich High’s parking lot if you disbelieve this; it’s parking lot is jammed with cars most of us would envy and I’ve got to believe that the parents buying those cars for their kids are fully capable of affording a house in town. So what gives? Is it the brokers who flee town with their kids? I don’t have the answer but I’m sure a reader will enlighten me.

So How’s the market?
As of March 31st, inventory is up 20% higher than last year, which is never encouraging news for sellers. There are a lot of buyers out there – I had fifteen showings over the weekend for a newly listed condo at Old Greenwich Gables – but there’s more to choose from, so buyers are being choosey. Still, with the exception of Rick Loh’s listing on Oval Avenue, every house I’ve mentioned recently as a good value has gone to contract (Rick’s listing is a mystery to me – great house). So as always, the way to sell your house is to price it right.

A Rose by any other Name

Those nice condos I wrote about on Valley Road are being built by the Santora brothers, not Santoro. David was nice enough not to mention my lapse, but I do try for at least a semblance of accuracy in this column.

Dolly Powers

So last week a bunch of us Realtors loaded onto a bus and went to Hartford to meet our legislators. This is a once-a-year thing, scheduled long in advance, but only Dolly was there to meet us. Hmmm. Two of our reps were in Greenwich (who knows where the other was?) and it seems more efficient if next year, we just meet them here. In any event, there are lots of bad things in the air up north, including extending the doubling of the conveyance tax, a “trial” buyer’s tax, a lead-paint abatement law that should make affordable housing unaffordable, and so on. In Texas, they used to say that no man’s women or cattle were safe while the legislature was in session. I suspect those Texan legislators have moved east. Dolly was great, by the way. She opposes the idea that all of the state’s woes can and should be cured by raising transaction costs for real estate and was unfamiliar only with one bill, the lead paint abatement plan (which is outside her legislative jurisdiction). When its provisions were explained to her she said, “why that’s just stupid”. I do love a leader who can succinctly summarize a pending bill.

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