Daily Archives: September 4, 2008

What Was I Thinking??!
Apropos of the post below, 29 Byfield Lane was listed April 15 of this year for $9.450 million. It dropped a wee bit, then was excised from our listings and returned June 24th at $6.350 million. Even a $3 million drop didn’t work so today it’s been cut again, to $6.298. Call me overly pessimistic, but if cutting it $3.145 million didn’t do the trick, I’m dubious that a trim of $52,000 is going to help much. And again, what is a buyer to think when he sees a house drop by more than a third in two months? He might think, “that was a stupid price the first time.” He might also think the market’s in a free-fall.

Interestingly enough, the same broker’s got another listing that can’t seem to decide on the right price. 101 Dingletown, a 1964 house renovated four years ago, has jumped around since it was first listed in late June of this year. It started at $5.785, went up to $5.995 10 days later, climbed again, to $6.395 2 weeks after that (I’m not kidding), and dropped today to $5.798, or $13,000 more than when it started its journey. I’ve mentioned this before, but if your house isn’t selling, the price direction you want to go in is down. Try it and see.

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I don’t know what this means, but I suppose it’s not ‘discouraging”

In Greenwich, we are continuing to see a shift in what price ranges homes are being purchased. In July, 72% of homes sold were below $3 million. Thirty percent of these homes sold between $2 million and $3 million or slightly above our median price of $1,825,000. Our market is appropriately adjusting to the economic changes that can further support its stability.

That’s from the real estate column in today’s edition of The Greenwich Post (no perma link available so you’ll have to click through to find it). The writer in question works hard to keep up a happy face, week after week, so “appropriately adjusting to economic changes that can further support … stability” must be her attempt to offset news even she feels compelled to disclose:

In Greenwich, single-family sales decreased 34.7% and condominiums decreased 5.1% in July as compared to this time last year. In June of this year, existing homes decreased 31.1% as opposed to condominiums that decreased 19.6% from a year ago.

It must have killed her to admit that.

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Open house report
Well, nothing much out there today. I saw one new listing whose listing agent was asking for price opinions. I suspect I added no cheer by suggesting a price cut of $225,000 off its $1.995 price but hey – he asked; and he won’t listen anyway, so no harm no foul.

But there’s a problem with these over-priced listings that affects all of us: a friend tells of showing a house yesterday that had been marked down a full million dollars from its two million plus original price. Instead of seeing a bargain, his potential buyer was scared off, reasoning that if a house could “lose” a million dollars in value one week, what was to prevent it from losing another million next week?

What’s being exposed in the present market is the unreality of pricing in this town. I know that sounds “too discouraging” for some of you readers, but when Back Country mansions start whacking $3-4 million from their asking price, over night, buyers can be forgiven if they conclude that there’s no real substance behind some of these prices.

So they’re waiting things out.

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Tear down of next week? 7 Hearthstone Drive

This beautiful (to my eye) 1868 farmhouse, originally belonging to the Lockwood family, is presumably slated for destruction. There’s no demolition sign posted yet but the lawn isn’t being maintained and it recently sold for its land value, $1,315,000. What a shame. The owners tried selling it for $1,560,000 back in 2003-2004 but found no takers, a reflection of what’s happening in Greenwich.

I’ve often wondered why Greenwich buyers show so little interest in antique homes. In many towns – look at Guilford or Westport, for instance, older homes are treasured but not so here. Even growing up, I noticed a dearth of old houses, even though the town was settled in 1640. What’s different about Greenwich that causes its residents to disdain our heritage? I have no idea, but I do know that in the years I’ve been doing this gig, I’ve had exactly one buyer who specifically asked to see old houses. That’s discouraging.

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Tear Down of the Week – 384 Sound Beach Avenue

This is (soon to be was) a very nice house with, as I recall, a pool dominating the small back yard. It sold via bidding war (asking price, $1.795, selling price, $1.873 million) in August 2004 (which we now refer to as “the good old days”), a price that I would have thought precluded it being torn down. Obviously, I was wrong.

I’m off to see new listings on the open house tour and will report on any bargains that turn up. Unfortunately, even in this market sellers tend to still price their new listings at unrealistic levels but I’m always ready to be pleasantly surprised.

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