There are currently 28 houses built since 1995 (40, 1980 and later) on four – to- ten acres, priced at $4.795 and up. Almost all of those are north of the Merritt in the back country and almost all are on what I’d call marginal and their broker might call less-than-optimal land. These are the product of the break up the estates that once comprised our back country and at least to my eye, aren’t an improvement on what was there.
Fudrucker and I were discussing the fate of these homes and Frankie posited, and I agreed, that the market for a huge house on four acres of so-so land located at the extreme edges of Greenwich is limited now and will probably decline from here. If we’re right, then who will want these things? Maybe, we thought, some super-rich types who’d buy them up on the cheap and reassemble the original estates. After all, four acres of rocks and swamp aren’t much use standing alone, but if that acreage is part of a 100-acre estate, they could add to the privacy of the main house.
An experienced realtor I know predicted almost twenty years ago that the mega-mansions sprouting like deformed mushrooms in the back country would be white elephants in the future. The builders paid no heed because buyers kept snapping them up, but I thought that realtor was right back then and nothing that’s occurred since 2007 makes me think he’s wrong now. Lifestyles are changing, and the idea of a forty-minute cruise to deliver a child to her travel team lacrosse game has lost its appeal; I don’t know why it ever held any appeal in the first place, but that’s another matter. Will that desire to live in the hinterlands return? Not so you could tell from my clients, who typically specify that they won’t consider living north of the Merritt, and not so you could tell from sales up there, which are languishing.
Younger friends of mine tell me stories about their parents who built huge palaces up on our northern border and now that their children have grown and left the nest, are rattling around in 10,000 square feet of builder’s bad taste, wishing they could move. But they can’t – they aren’t even putting their houses on the market, because there is no market – not for these.
All of which is a gross generalization, of course, but that’s how I see it from down here. If I’m right, it will be interesting to see what happens. I’m rooting for my scenario, the one that puts the large estates back and the MacMansions scraped off the face of the earth. That may not happen, but what else will people do with these unwanted homes?
I suppose that as the town’s population ages we’ll see a demand for more nursing homes. And there’s always the idea of elder hostels floating around. Or, assuming Malloy stays in power, Section 8 housing crammed past our zoning laws – now that would be amusing. Stay tuned.