Who said the market’s dead?
For most of this year I was, or so I’ve been informed, ahead of my younger brother Gideon in sales. This is as it should be, notwithstanding that he’s been peddling real estate for the past twenty years compared to my mere five. Gideon just blew me out of the water when he negotiated a contract for Lowther Point in Riverside for $20+ million (Gideon, as is appropriate, is close-mouthed as to the identity of the buyer or the agreed upon price). We all want our siblings to do well, of course, but beat us? Ha! If you feel the same way toward your own kid brother, and have $20,000,000 (heck, $10,000,00 will do) to spend on real estate, call me before December 31st.
I’ve used this column to poke fun at our town’s police force before, but I’m distressed to see that two of our officers have felt it necessary to sue Greenwich to get relief they feel they’re entitled to. Patrolman Sean O’Donnell, who honored my son John and I by sharing coffee with us upon Mr. O’Donnell’s first return from Iraq, has now been redeployed there and claims that he’s been denied promotions otherwise due him because of his absence while serving our country. Lt. Jim Pucci, retired, has sued to recover health benefits he says were promised him after he lost his leg in a horrible service-related accident on I-95. I’ve only met Mr. Pucci once but, when my daughter Kate, at age 3, was in Greenwich Hospital’s ICU recovery unit, she shared that room with the recovering, unconscious Lieutenant and we met the entire Pucci clan. Notwithstanding their relative’s grave condition, the Puccis reached out to Nancy, Kate and me and forever endeared themselves to us. Kate’s now a very healthy 22-year-old, and I’ll admit that I’m biased, but it strikes me that we owe people like Jim Pucci and Sean O’Donnell our best faith. I hope that Jim Lash, also someone I admire, can use his talents to cut through to the truth underlying these lawsuits and resolve them fairly.
Back to real estate
A relatively new house, and one that was never occupied, just sold in Riverside for $558 a sq. ft. Nothing unusual about that but, when it first came on the market two years ago, I noted in this column that its builder was asking $703 per square foot and I compared it to other new construction which was selling for prices in the mid fives. It’s not popular to price houses by the square foot in Greenwich, but I think it’s a viable approach and certainly, this one sat on the market for years before its owner dropped its price down to comparable construction. For another prediction, there’s a new house way out in the Back Country that’s asking $980 a square foot. If my fellow Realtors are right, this one will trade, years from now, for just over half that. I notice that it’s already taken a $1,000,000 price reduction since its first open house; one of many to follow, I suspect.
How to sell your house?
A house that’s sat on the market unsold since January just increased its asking price by $95,000. Usually a dumb move but in this case the sellers have added a nice portico and bumped out the living room, making the exterior much more attractive. But I still question the strategy; they probably won’t recover their extra cost, but can they at least get the house sold, for higher price than if they’d just dropped the price another $100,000? I honestly don’t know, and I’ll be watching the results with keen interest. I’ll let you know the result here – stay tuned.
As a Honda owner, I may be more sensitive to this issue than other brand owners, but I was struck by an ad I heard on the radio for a “local” GM dealer (do you know that Greenwich has neither a Ford nor a Chevrolet dealership?), promising, “the deal you want today, the service you’ll need tomorrow”. I don’t want service tomorrow, nor do I expect to need any, other than an occasional oil change. This guy should change brands or switch ad agencies, in my opinion.