May 20, 2005
Fun and Frolics on the Open House Tour
So there we are, three highly trained, professional Realtors, wandering through a spectacular mansion in the Back Country. We enter the library and one of us who is familiar with the house’s construction says, “hey, did you know that there used to be a secret passage behind one of these bookshelves? I wonder if it’s still here?” Well, he poked and prodded and sure enough, there it was: a small deadbolt hidden on the underside of one of the shelves. The bolt is retracted, the panel pushed slightly ajar and “Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!” an alarm begins shrieking like mad. Almost simultaneously we hear the telephone ringing—security checking in. We shrank to about 5’3” and slunk out of there as quickly as we could: “who, us?” Moral of the story; two, actually, is don’t go pushing open secret panels and, if you’re the listing agent, make certain that you know all the security codes for your clients’ house, especially those they forget to tell you about!
High End Blues?
As of this writing, there are ninety-six houses for sale in town priced at $6,000,000 and above—thirty-seven of which are asking over $10,000,000. By neat coincidence, forty-eight houses in the $6,000,000+ range sold in the past twelve months, indicating a two year supply of mega-mansions. Worse news for the $10,000,000 crowd is that only twelve such houses sold last year, so if you’ve got a whopper on the market, you might want to hold off on calling the movers, for now.
I incurred the wrath of a local builder a few weeks back by stating that his $25,000,000 creation didn’t look as appealing as some other mansions I’d seen priced for half as much. I’ve been banned—for life, I assume—from any open houses ever again conducted by that builder and, while that is a sorrow from which I am still struggling to recover, I see that the builder has just whacked $10,000,000 from the building’s price. I’m not great with math, but $15,000,000 seems to be much closer to $12,500,000 than to $25,000,000. Don’t shoot the messenger, fella. By the way, your limestone facing was improperly installed and is now discoloring, badly.
And While We’re Angering People
I was in a newish house in Old Greenwich last week and noticed that its builder had turned it away from what could have been a spectacular view of the water and exposed instead an unnervingly-close view of the neighboring house ten feet away. The odd thing is, I am familiar with seven houses this same builder has erected in the past few years and every single one of them suffers from the same defect. It’s either a form of color blindness or the architect this builder employs must never visit the building sites before setting pen to paper. Truly bizarre.
To Market to Market to Buy a Fat Pig
Seventy-seven new listings came on the market last week, balanced by fifty-two price reductions (one of which promises in its open house listing for next week, “new rice-great food”). The spring market is turning away from sellers and in favor of buyers, as it usually does this time of year.
On and On and On
Paul Larson (Coldwell banker) has just listed 62 Wesskum Wood Road for $2,450,000. I liked this house very much, but it clearly won’t appeal to everyone. The owners have converted what must have been a raised ranch into 4,840 sq. feet of very interesting house. Lots of stairs, leading to four (I think) different levels, all decorated in a very modern, So-Ho industrial look that works beautifully, to my eye. Again; it’s not a conventional cape, but after touring so many nearly-identical houses, it presented a refreshing change. Nice yard, easy walk to Binney Park and the train. Go for it.
Speaking of Binney Park, did you know that we close the town’s clamming beds at Tod’s whenever it rains more than half-an-inch? That’s because that much water washes the goose poop off Binney’s lawns and into the pond, where it makes its way downstream to Old Greenwich Harbor and raises the coliform count to unhealthy levels. If it’s a health threat to clammers, why isn’t it a health threat that justifies killing these winged rats? We have been afflicted with a population of permanent resident geese who have made using our parks a disgusting, intolerable proposition. As I suggested a few months back, if a group of feathered hippies were camped at Binney making this kind of mess we’d have shooed them gone long ago. Sauce for the hippies should be sauce for the ganders.