Pricing houses in a down market

127 Sound beach

127 Sound beach

This 1920 house was bought for $1.220 million in 2002. I liked it then and haven’t seen it since but it’s back on today asking $2.1 million after the owners have added a new kitchen, central air, new baths, etc. That doesn’t strike me as a bad price at all. The house’s driveway is on Wesskum Wood, so you avoid the hassle of entering Sound Beach Avenue, and nice as the house was eight years ago (and it really was), a new kitchen and baths would have been welcome. But will buyers go for this price? I hope so, because I think it’s a good one, and if it doesn’t fetch close to its asking price, we’re really dropping down there. But maybe we are, so who knows?

And here’s another poser:

31 N. Porchuck Rd

31 N. Porchuck Rd

This house on North Porchuck was built and sold in August 2007 for $7,850,000. The new owners added a pool and then had to place it back up for sale this year. Being no fools, they listed it for $6.995 million, as close to a million dollar write-down as makes no never mind (especially if you add in the price of the new pool). It’s a beautiful house, with great views of a pond, terrific lawns, a wonderful layout and even a walk-out basement that’s twice the size and twice as comfortable as my own house. It would be absolutely perfect for  clients of mine but I know that they’re waiting for the right bargain and, these days, $1 million off isn’t considered a bargain. I don’t blame my clients or fault them for being unreasonable – we are turning up bargains, and if they settle for something not quite as perfect but $4 million less well, that’s a large bulk of dollars to offer comfort and consolation for not getting exactly what they want.

And like so many buyers today, mine are in no hurry – they don’t have to buy a house. It’s a tad frustrating though, because it wasn’t long ago I could have told them with assurance that they wouldn’t find a house as good as this one at its price, ever. Now I can’t say that.

But it is a great house and if you do have to buy, or are willing to pay to get exactly what you want, this one is worth seeing.


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12 responses to “Pricing houses in a down market

  1. Jane

    Is the house on Sound Beach the one with no garage?

    • christopherfountain

      What, you expect a garage for your $2 million? What a spoil sport. Okay, how about $1.575, no garage – will that satisfy you?

  2. anonymous

    Do most buyers of >$5MM houses want a pool b/c they actually use it…or just for resale?

    Just curious…have always found pools to be yr-round maintenance and liability hassles…and eyesores in off-season

  3. InfoDiva

    Not sure why you think 127 Sound Beach is priced well at $2.1 million. That’s $900K more than they paid for the place in 2002…and you’ve suggested that we may be back to 1999 prices.

    Are the fixtures in those new baths and kitchen made with precious metal or something?

    Or perhaps your OG/Riverside bias is showing a bit here?

    • christopherfountain

      Well Info, I was wondering the same thing. I do like the proximity to Binney Park and the town, but Sound Beach is a heck of a busy street, Wesskum Wood driveway or not. I am assuming that they have done a complete renovation (I won’t get into the house until Thursday, when it will be on the open house tour), but how much can those renovations have cost? Maybe add $300,000 to the 2002 purchase price? Or not. The marketplace rules, not I.

  4. Anonymous

    Agree w/infodiva — this is a crap location in OG (though convenient to everything!) Guessing even at the height of the market no home sold on Sound Beach near this one for 2m+……and the one on the corner of Lockwood/SB doesn’t count.

  5. SizeBuyer


    After your review of 18 watchtower the other day you really gave great marks for a house which from what it sounds like was renovated in much the same way. Now I realize they are 2 different neighborhoods but if 750 was the right price for watchtower then maybe 700 should have been the right price for this house in 2002? and with 300k of renovations maybe 1MM is more of the right price?

    I mean we really can’t take into account any house appreciation but I’ll give the seller all of the renovation dollars but no house appreciation.

    what do you think? deal?

    • christopherfountain

      Well Size, Havemeyer has never been worth what real estate south of the Post Road is. That said, south of the Village is where property values really increase (even on busy Sound Beach). But I do like this location, a block from the train and stores, two blocks (ok, 3) from the school and it’s “almost” south of the village. In real estate, “almost” can mean the difference between facing Central Park and a block away, so there are problems with that valuation, I acknowledge. But $1.2 in 2002 was not a crazy price and if the renovations are done well, the price should go north of there. I’ll concede that my preference for OG may have influenced my enthusiasm but then, I’m not alone if liking the area so if a buyer shares my preference, they’ll pay more. How much more, we’ll have to see.

  6. Jane

    Sorry, there is no garage. And nobody ever goes in your front door because the driveway is in the back. Doesn’t do it for me at 2M.

  7. Kendall

    Buyer of 31 N Porchuck, be aware. Mr. Kendall asks:
    Will you be my neighbor? I live at 18 N Porchuck Rd. I got that funky PepsiCo logo on my mail box. Just like I have the same mail box in Southampton. In case you forgot, I was Chairman of PepsiCo. I was important.
    -Mr. Donald Kendall.

  8. anonymous

    Great, a self-important sugar water/salty snacks salesman

  9. Stanwich

    Ooooh, bad call CF. You are totally showing your OG bias with this one. I am usually the first one to call you out on the OG bias, sorry I was celebrating with the Irish today.