There are probably more price reductions being filed with the Board these days than there are new listings. Evidence of the great bubble burst? I think not; rather, we’re just seeing prices adjust to where they should have been all along. Jean Ruggiero, for instance, just took over a Lake Avenue listing that had been previously priced at $5,700,000. Jean dropped its price to $3,150,000 and had it under contract within ten days. We’re not witnessing a $2,550,000 drop in value – the house was never worth $5,700,000. Another example: a builder bought some land a couple of weeks ago for $2,500,000 and re-listed it the next day for $3,500,000. When it eventually sells for something much closer to its original price, will we have seen a bursting bubble or just a market place intervention that separated the builder from whatever he was smoking and returned him gently to earth? The latter, in my opinion.
The other week I mentioned a beautiful old house on Cliffdale Road that, while in the process of being restored, burned down. Chubb Insurance paid to have it rebuilt exactly as it was, even down to antique floorboards and moldings. The telling of that story reminded me that it might be time to once again discuss the various types of coverage out there, so I called Raveis’s Insurance guru and fellow Greenwich resident, Mary Dowd to discuss it (no, I get no kick-back for mentioning Mary – that would be immoral, illegal and fattening – but I try to find knowledgeable people in this business and exploit them mercilessly). Mary says there are three basic types of insurance: market value, which banks care about, just protects the bank’s interest, reconstruction and guaranteed replacement value. You’ve probably got more invested in your house than just the amount of the mortgage and, since part of that mortgage reflects the value of the land, you’ll want better protection than market value. Replacement cost insurance is okay (I have it) but beware of caps – many firms limit payouts to 125% – 150% of the face value of the policy. This caused a lot of heartache in California when homeowners lost their houses to wildfires and discovered they didn’t have enough coverage to re-build (same thing happened after Katrina). The most expensive type of policy, guaranteed replacement value, means just what it says: they’ll rebuild your house, regardless of cost. So if you have a very special house, with a lot of exotic custom features, you might want to have your policy reviewed by an expert to see what coverage you actually have. Your current agent can do this for you, and I’d recommend scheduling a checkup. Or call Mary at (203) 767-9049. She can interpret your current policy and tell you about others, all, I understand, without pressuring you or moving permanently into your home.
24 Rocky Point Lane
This is a great listing of Bill Schoonmaker’s that should have flown off the market but, a month after it was listed, it’s still available. The original 1932 house was raised above the high waters that occasionally afflict this section of Old Greenwich and completely renovated. There are fabulous water views from almost every room, a huge (for OG) backyard and a purchase on this street moves you to the head of the waiting list for the Rocky Point Club. As a sailor, I never liked Rocky’s unprotected mooring field but it’s a wonderful neighborhood beach/swim club filled with very nice, unpretentious people; something that can’t necessarily be said about some other “neighborhood” clubs which seem to have strayed from their origins. $2,995,000. Buy it.
Have you tried this site yet? It purports to tell you what your house is worth but it’s not yet ready for prime time. Example: it claims a five year 125% appreciation rate for one street, based on one address and zero appreciation for the same street if you plug in an address on the opposite side. Another example: it gives a price range for another house $1,987,260 (sounds so precise, doesn’t it?) to $2,958,810. “Official” price, $2,200,000. I valued the house at $3,250,000 while the agent who listed it says $3,650,000. I think I’m closer to the mark than the listing agent but both our estimates are a long way from $2,200,000. Zillow’s a work in progress but, so far, it’s not much of a threat to my industry.
Painter Follow Up
Charlie Ford’s phone number is (203) 536-9106. Good guy.
From the New York Times comes this story of the working poor: an agent was showing a couple $3,000,000 weekend homes out on Long Island. The wife didn’t like the selection and, turning to her husband snapped, “If you had a good job, we wouldn’t have to live like this!”