Pricing Your House
A reader from Cos Cob recently asked about two houses on the market: one, on a slightly better street, had five bedrooms and a large yard yet is priced $150,000 less than a three bedroom house on a tiny yard. What gives, he asked. A couple of things. One is that asking price and selling price are often not the same, so the discrepancy may not really exist; we’ll know when they sell. Another is, value is in the eye of the buyer. The smaller house was completely renovated this year, and is in beautiful condition. The larger house was renovated five years ago. Someone with one or two kids may not value a fourth and fifth bedroom and may prefer what is in effect a brand new house. If so, she may be willing to pay more to get it. Someone with different needs may prefer the five bedroom house.
But if your house is for sale, listen to the market. Lots of showings but no offers probably means that you’re a little over-priced. No showings at all means you have completely misjudged the value of your house – the real estate agents know it and aren’t wasting their or their clients’ time by even bothering to drive by. That’s bad. Remember, if three different agents give you price opinions within a close range of each other and a fourth agent is, say, 25% higher, it’s probable that the last agent is trying to buy your listing, by which I mean grabbing the listing at a wildly inflated price in the hope that she can get you to lower your sights down the road. That’s going to give you nothing but headaches and frustration.
The swan that I wrote about awhile back is back in the wild. Meredith Sampson took it home, kept it four days and then released it on the Mianus River, where it flew down stream headed, Meredith suspects, back to its home base on Mill Pond. Her guess is that the bird hit power lines and, stunned, fell to earth. Whatever happened, it’s okay now. Meredith, by the way, rescues wild birds out of goodness of her heart. Our family likes to donate a little cash now and then to help cover some of her animals’ expenses. If you’d like to do the same, I’m sure she’d appreciate it. Her address is: Meredith Sampson, 27 Park Avenue, Old Greenwich, CT 06870.
I was in a really nice house in Old Stone Bridge the other day but it felt a little small compared to others I’d toured the same day. Upon reflection, I realized that we’ve all inflated the idea of what size a “normal” house should be. The Old Stone Bridge development went up in 1979 and at that time were perfectly acceptably-sized. Twenty-seven years later, we expect 10’ ceilings, five bedrooms (with baths for each) an eat-in kitchen, etc. It’s no wonder prices have gone up – we’ve doubled the size of what we want.
Shore & Country has a pretty neat website, “liveingreenwich.com” where, thanks to Bob Fossum, there are all sorts of interesting statistics on Greenwich real estate: price appreciation over the years, current inventory and so on. Try it, you’ll like it. I do, anyway, because it allows this lazy columnist to effortlessly gather column fodder. For instance, our current inventory of single family houses is 429, a 28% increase from last year. That’s good news for buyers, not so good news for sellers. Available condo’s on the other hand, have dropped 6%: 100, down from 106. One thing the statistics confirm is what you already know: Greenwich real estate has been an excellent investment over time. Perhaps not the same appreciation as Worldcom or Enron enjoyed in their day but then …
Adventures in Home Building
A couple of readers have emailed me wondering whether I had anything to say about the new Victorian Hansel and Gretel house going up on Park Avenue South in Old Greenwich. I have mixed feelings: one the one hand, it’s not my taste; on the other, when so many houses being built today all look the same, it’s nice to see a house reflect its builder’s personality. From a re-sale perspective, this one may be a little too individualistic to sell readily but its owner clearly couldn’t care less and, for that I say, more power to you. Definitely worth a drive by. You don’t need the street number because you’ll know this house when you see it.