So here we are in January already, looking forward to what we all hope will be a strong spring market. I’m encouraged because there seems to be a large group of lookers out there. All lookers aren’t buyers, of course, but all buyers are lookers (learned that one in my logic class). We shall see.
Real Estate Returns to WGCH
Several years ago the new owners of our only radio station in town dumped most of the local content, including my brother Gideon’s show, in favor of out of town business news. I never listened after that but now Russ Pruner and Rick Loh, both of Shore & Country, are coming on air. Knowing Russ, I expected the show would discuss window treatments and flower arrangements but no – they’re going to discuss Greenwich real estate something that Rick, at least, knows a lot about. Friday mornings, from 10:00 – 11:00, the “LiveInGreenwich Real Estate Hour”. Brad Hvolbeck likes to make crank phone calls to shows like this (which is why I write, rather than broadcast this column) so tune in – should be good.
A while back I investigated a reverse mortgage for an older family friend. We ultimately concluded that the program didn’t make sense for her but I was impressed by the safeguards built into these programs to protect elderly people from getting ripped off. You’re probably familiar with the concept: someone living in a valuable house but with limited cash can take out a mortgage that pays a fixed amount each month. Upon death or sale of the house, the loan is repaid. The borrower cannot be forced from her house, even if she uses up her equity, and the heirs aren’t stuck with owing more than the house is worth. Federal regulations require financial counseling before anything is signed and, as I noted, there are a lot of sensible protections written in. But beware: there are plenty of charlatans out there, ready to fleece you. If you’re interested in the program, check with your banker or financial advisor (that’s the guy who used to be called a stockbroker, but never mind) and, if you have a child in the financial services industry, run it by them.
459 Field Point Road
This beautiful 1888 carriage house was renovated by David Ogilvy to be his new home but a change in plans has put it back on the market. As you’d expect from anything Mr. Ogilvy puts his hand to, the renovation is terrific. Beautifully landscaped outside, with deeded winter water views, everything inside has been redone at the highest level of quality. The only thing I might change is the master bedroom. The current bedroom is fine as is but there’s FAR room to create a new master suite that would have even better views and, of course, free up another bedroom (there are already five, so you could also choose to save your money). Asking $4,350,000 which, for the Belle Haven neighborhood and the condition of this house, sounds fair.
For years, my greatest fear as a real estate agent was that a client would ask to be driven around in my car. No one should be subjected to that horror but fortunately most folks today insist on driving themselves, either because they have kids strapped in car seats or, thanks to the internet, they know a property’s location and prefer to meet their agent on site. Still, no lucky streak lasts forever so it was a great relief to receive for Christmas a gift certificate for a detailing at Splash (thanks, Nancy). I told the manager that I didn’t expect miracles after four years of spilling coffee, riding my poor Honda hard and putting it away wet but he smiled and said, “I think you’ll be surprised.” Wow. It’s as close to new as an old car can get. It’s an expensive, four + hour procedure but what a result. Every nook and cranny is spotless – they even take the seats out so they can clean the grunge out of the runners. The seats are clean, the carpet shampooed, etc. I don’t expect its new, pristine condition to last through the winter (if winter ever comes) so if you ever wanted to tour the town with me, now’s the time to call.