Old Greenwich bargain?
I think so, at least. Cathy Adams, of Country Living Associates, has listed a completely renovated four bedroom house at 54 Highview Avenue for $1,695,000. Highview is a deservedly popular street, within walking distance of Old Greenwich School and the village and a pretty easy walk/jog/ride to Tod’s Point. I think, comparing this house to what else is out there in its price range, this one’s the best by far (a comment that will surely solicit a dozen emails from other agents asking, “what about my listing?”, but what the heck).

Pool safety, continued
I never did hear back from my pool safety expert but from what I could learn there are a number of ways to address the suction pump peril (I’d think that a simple grill would do the job but apparently not). One device is a vacuum breaker that, installed, shuts down the pump when it senses a blockage. My advice, if you have young children or grandchildren, is to make an appointment with whoever services your pool and arrange for a thorough, careful safety inspection. And make the recommended changes.

Multiple Listing Service
I heard from a reader who pointed out that I often say it’s impossible to price a house too low in Greenwich because the marketplace will bid it to its proper price. So why, he asks, should he spend the money hiring a broker? He himself has sold three properties on his own and did just fine to which I say, good for you. But my point about the marketplace effect assumes, of course, that the property is fully exposed to every potential buyer and I know of no better mechanism to achieve that than the MLS. A “For Sale by Owner” sign stuck on the front yard won’t do it. Here’s an example: several years ago, an older acquaintance of mine decided to sell his waterfront property but shuddered at the thought of strangers wandering through his house. He approached a local agent and asked him to find a buyer. This was done, the house traded hands for somewhere around $4.0 million and both sides were happy. Those of us who heard about the sale thought the seller had left at least $1.5 million on the table and in fact it sold for more than twice the original selling price a few years later. That usually doesn’t happen when your house is on the MLS, although there are exceptions, especially when a house has been over-priced originally and then grown stale.

Besides, a source of objective advice and tactics can be invaluable. As a former NASD arbitrator I felt sorry for the poor deluded fools who came before our panels without benefit of counsel. Stock broker fraud and selling a house are different things, of course, in that, in the latter case, someone actually wants to give you (some) money while in the former Wall Street, having taken your money away, has a fierce determination to keep it. I’ve never strong-armed anyone into using my services as a lawyer or Realtor but if I had legal difficulties, I’d hire a lawyer and if I wanted to sell a house, I’d use the services of my fellow Realtors and the MLS. But feel free to ignore my advice; some folks succeed at the going-it-alone route and others have created an entire subspecialty in my business: turning FISBO’s (for sale by owner) into listings. If there weren’t a lot of failed FISBOs out there, that market niche wouldn’t exist.

Interest rates
Very much not an area I know much about (so perhaps I should start a hedge fund?) but I hear from my financial sources that there are an awful lot of people with bad credit in Connecticut and even here in Greenwich and the borrowing market has pretty much dried up for them. It’s killing deals and I assume that will create a ripple effect because, if someone with excellent credit can’t find a buyer for his existing house, he probably can’t afford to buy yours. Greenwich has always had a solid real estate base and I can’t imagine that collapsing but it’s not inconceivable that things may slow down, for awhile. It’s not quite the cop’s “nothing to see here, move along, move along”, but I wouldn’t panic. Yet.

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