Daily Archives: March 23, 2007

Oops!
Do to an editing error, my praise for two houses last week, one on Kennilworth Terrace, the other on Intervale, ran under a week-old headline, “Looking for an eyesore?” That certainly wasn’t my meaning and, while it didn’t hurt Kennilworth, which went via multiple bids at a price presumably higher than its asking price of $6.1 million, I don’t want readers to think either house is unattractive. Quite the contrary.

Don’t be a pig
The market has heated up, as it always does in spring, and we’re seeing bidding wars breaking out. Worse yet, we’re seeing the reemergence of “highest and best” situations where the loser throws still more money at the deal and “highest and best” becomes “highest and best and better yet”. I advise against this practice because you the seller will infuriate the original winner and, when the second bidder develops buyer’s remorse and walks away, you’ll discover that you’ve lost both. But the dumbest thing to do is to accept someone’s offer, let them spend $1,000 or more on building inspections and then break your word, accept a higher offer and refuse to compensate the first buyer for his out of pocket expenditures. Don’t do this because (a) it is wrong: you gave your word, the buyer relied on your word, and you should not let him be harmed by trusting you; or, for those of you who couldn’t care less about (a) then, (b) it may cost you dearly. Buyers who can’t stand losing out on any deal will often bid anything to win. Deal. Then they start thinking that they’ve over-paid and they walk. If you’ve treated the first buyers well – apologized, made them whole, etc., they may still be around to complete the deal. If you’ve stiffed them, trust me- they’re gone. So don’t do it. If you’ve accepted someone’s offer and the buyer, in reliance on that acceptance, incurs expenses for a building inspection, your best course of action is to stick with that buyer and place any higher offers in “back-up” status. But if you won’t do that, dig into your pocket and reimburse the first, disappointed party. It’s the smart thing to do.

Two Master Bedrooms
The New York Times reports on a growing trend, his and her “master” bedrooms. Apparently, after the kids have grown, spouses are deciding not to put up with each other’s snoring, sheet tossing and whatever other annoying habits the other has and are moving into separate bedrooms. I can’t say that I’ve noticed this here in Greenwich, yet, but the article quoted architects and builders from around the country who all said they were designing or building these things, so watch for it soon. Our houses will presumably get even bigger.

MulBerry Lane
Off Mead Avenue in Cos Cob, two nice houses. Number 2, priced at $879,000, is a move-in-ready Cape just renovated. Small but nice. Sally Parris listing. Number 6, listed by Tod Laudonia, asks $949,000. It needs work but it’s right on the millpond and its location justifies the effort.

Bad Houses
I’ve lived in town for more than fifty years and, during that time, I’ve seen out-of-towners make the same mistake, again and again. Because Greenwich residents are wealthy, these folks – store owners, builders, what-have-you, assume that they can charge any ridiculous price and Greenwichites will pay it. They’re only half-right; (some) Greenwich residents will indeed pay insane amounts for some things – have you priced clothes at Richard’s lately? – but they insist on getting value in return. In the case of Richard’s, it’s superb service (or so I’m told; I haven’t shopped there since they stopped selling Levis and moved across the street). For builders, the quid pro quo for high prices is superb quality of construction. So when I see, for example, a $10,000,000 mansion with flimsy banisters, lousy trim work, Home Depot cabinetry, I suspect that I’m looking at the work of a naive, cost-cutting neophyte who thinks a Greenwich address allows him to charge any price he dreams up. It doesn’t happen. Much as it galls me to admit it, most of our rich citizens in town got that way by being smart (well, lucky probably helps, too) and they aren’t going to toss their money away on junk. So if you build junk, price it as such. If you want top dollar for your efforts, you can get it here, but you’ll have to work for it. It’s a tough life.

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