Daily Archives: September 15, 2009

One more sale

We did get a “pending” reported, which is close to a contract: 71 Ricmond Hill Road, asked $4.050 million in 2003, dropped to $2.995 and, presumably, is selling for less than that.

72 Buckfield

72 Buckfield

 

And I’m a little ticked at myself for ignoring this Ogilvy listing on Buckfield. It sold for $4.250 in 2006 and was relisted, unchanged, for $5.2 that same year. It’s been drifting down ever since, but still in the high range so I just figured on giving it another two or three years. My brother Gideon proved more aggressive, it turns out, and his client bought it today for $3.2 million. That’s the trouble with ridiculous prices: you anger most sellers when you offer a reasonable price but you can never tell when someone will come to his senses. Oh well. But if you’re a seller, try not to get too worked up when you get a low bid – we don’t know whther you’re still dreaming and we don’t mean to be rude.

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Alabama sex toy case off to the Supremes?

Ow!

Ow!

Alabama’s highest court has upheld, 7-2, a statute criminalizing the distribution for sale of sex toys: dildos, butt pl - hell, you know what they are – and there’s talk that the case may head to Washington. The Professor thinks the court is unlikely to grant certiorari and, if it does, it will find no compelling constitutional right to diddle your privates in private. At first blush, you’d think that, if one has a right of privacy to have a fetus aborted or engage in homosexual sex, then that same right ought to encompass more solitary pleasures, but Professor Vlokoh thinks the Court will be reluctant to rule on what they (or the Professor – Clarence Thomas may differ) considers an inferior, minor right.

Probably so, but how disappointing. I love the story of, I think it was Justice Jackson, screening porno films in the court’s basement and, when he was too blind to catch the action, calling on Justice Douglas for a blow-by-blow description. Can’t you imagine the Nine with a box full of sex toys dumped on the bench, trying to figure out what they were for? Now that’s a hearing I’d want televised.

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It’s 4:00 – do you know where your contract is?

Nothing reported so far, but perhaps the realtors are too busy with today’s Democrat primary for Tax Collector to bother reporting contracts. But 69 Riverdale, those Port Chester/ Byram condos, did sell a unit for $800,000. Down a bit from the ask of $975,000, but a sale’s a sale, right?

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So drop the price!

5 mead Point Drive

5 mead Point Drive

I really like this house – it’s been recently renovated and is on a nice little street that has beach access of sorts on Mead Point. There’s some highway noise but nothing I’d consider objectionable – your sensitivity may differ, obviously.

It was listed for $4.195 million in 2003 and, when it didn’t sell, was brought back in the mid $4s (I think). It has now dropped to $4.250, pretty close to the pre-renovation 2003 price but I’ll bet that, if the owners were willing to take a hit on that expense and put this at, say, $3.795, it would find a buyer. I don’t know that, of course, and it’s in the hands of a competent broker, but I sense, from my own reaction and those of clients to whom I’ve shown this, that it’s just a bit high. Sometimes, psychology being what it is, “a little too high” keeps a house unsold, especially when there’s a barrier like a 4 in the way. Just my thoughts. This really is a lovely house and if you’re in its approximate price range, you might want to consider breaking that barrier yourself and seeing what happens.

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Somebody please, please explain this to me

Yet another price increase in the face of market indifference to an offering. This time it’s 361 N. Maple Avenue, an antique that was purchased for $1.6 million in 2002, put up for sale, without effect, for $2.3 million in 2002- 2004, tried again in 2009, starting at $2.6 and dropping in August to $2 million even. Today it’s up to $2.1. One hundred thousand dollars removed from a price will probably make no difference in selling a house so I suppose that adding one hundred can’t hurt, much, but why would a seller do such a thing? It can’t possibly make the house more attractive to buyers, can it? Or am I missing something? If this sells next week I will gladly eat crow but I’m pretty sure that’s a safe promise.

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It’s not happening, folks

The article in today’s Greenwich Time reporting that sales of existing homes are in the toilet includes this quote from Russ Pruner:

Russell Pruner, owner and partner of Riverside-based Shore & Country Properties, which conducted its own, similar sales analysis, said agents have yet to see the fall market get going, though that usually happens in the second or third week of September, lasting until early to mid-November.

“By the end of September, we’re going to have a pretty good idea of how this year is going to end up,” Pruner said.

So here we are in the third week of September and nothing is happening, nor will it. So far, there has been no rush of new listings for the fall “selling” season, and though we certainly don’t need more inventory, I wonder whether sellers are holding off, waiting yet another week to put their house up for sale. My personal opinion is that if you’ve waited until now to try to sell your home, you’ve waited too long; by about 18 months.

What happens the first week of October? Well, if more houses do come on, I’m confident that they’ll all be over-priced, so if your own house is lingering, now might be a good time to whack the bejesus off its price and move it before winter sets in. Otherwise, there’s always the spring market to look forward to in, say, 2013.

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A sale in Old Greenwich

48 Benjamin Street

48 Benjamin Street

Built new for the owners in 2004, listed for $2.3 million in 2007, finally sold yesterday for $1.7.

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But why? Why?

Fashion industry in crisis.

New york fashion show, today (NYT)

New york fashion show, today (NYT)

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Got an old house? You should despair.

I was chatting with an excellent agent this morning, one with the good sense to ask to keep her name off this blog, and we both agreed that almost all our buyer clients want new construction, period. Low end buyers ($1 million and under) will settle for a new kitchen and new baths but no one wants a 1963 home that’s been untouched since it was built. No one. Yet, checking the stats, I see that we have 201 houses currently for sale that were built between 1955 and 1989. 56 houses in that age bracket have sold in the past six months, but of those, 32 were under $1.5 million and, with the exception of a few houses sold as teardowns, nothing has sold over $1.5 million that wasn’t recently renovated.

The point? If you have an older house that still has Formica counters and harvest gold appliances (and maybe pink bathroom fixtures), resign yourself to selling for whatever the land value is – your actual structure is probably worthless. And, just to really cheer yourself up, figure that until builders come back, which will be a couple of years, I fear, your only buyers are the tiny handful of people with the time, inclination and money to build new on your site. If you are on marginal land, you’re screwed.

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Sellers in denial

It was a pretty quick trip around the open house circuit today because, of four pages of listings there were only a few that weren’t still stuck at crazy prices. So I skipped them

I emailed another agent a few days ago asking whether her client would be interested in hearing a bid in the mid-threes for his house – I didn’t want to waste her time or my clients’ (or mine) revisiting it if the seller was still stuck to his asking price. I was a little surprised to get no response at all, even a denial, but then, I had apparently lowered his price to the high $4s in my mind, I suppose because that seemed like an appropriate spot. Imagine my surprise to see it on the open house sheet today at $5.999 – oops! Worse, I looked it up just now and the original price was $7.8 (!) Now, $3.5 million may be too low a price for this house – it’s well built and located on a decent street, but I think I know that it will never sell for anything close to $6. So it sits, and the builder pays interest. That’s an expensive dream.

There are other houses out there at similarly unrealistic prices, still standing firm, but at least they save me time and gasoline; I have no need to see, again, a house priced at $8 million, unchanged since it first hit the market in January, when I think it will sell at auction for $3. So thank you, sellers.

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Nice on Hill Road

17 Hill Road

17 Hill Road

This beauty feels, to me, exactly like what a Greenwich mansion should feel like: it’s high up on a hill, with excellent views, on a quiet street and has real seclusion even though it has neighbors. It looks old but was built just two years ago, in 2007. Pool, two acres, guest house, great rooms of fine proportions and gorgeous woods used throughout. Is it worth the $11 million it’s asking? Heck if I know, but the builder of that spec house at 12 Byfield Lane who’s asking $12 million for his attempt ought to come see this one and then drop his price.

This is listed by Lynn Stevens of Greenwich Fine Properties, by the way. While it is fair to say that the principal of that firm, Doug Stevens, and I are unlikely to start a mutual admiration society, I am in awe of his ability to attract and retain some of the very best agents in town (he just added Barbara Ciofarri, in fact). While not all the great agents in town work for GFP, there’s quite a collection of good people there, including the lovely and talented Lynn, whom he persuaded to marry.

So if you’re keeping score on who’s doing better, there’s Doug, with Lynn and his other agents and me, with just Frankie Fudrucker, a charming, but seriously challenged political thinker. Boy, did I blow it.

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Waterfront sells

23 Eggleston Lane

23 Eggleston Lane

23 Eggleston Lane, a half-acre of waterfront in Shorelands sold yesterday for $4 million, just about its assessed (70% of 2005 market value, Bob) value of $3.7. It’s billed as two lots but you’d be foolish, I think, to do anything with this land except tear down the wreck that stands there now and build (one) nice new house. A word of caution to other waterfront owners, like those on Binney Lane: even direct frontage doesn’t get you a ridiculous price. Tamar Lurie had this listed at $8.5 million in January 2008 and went nowhere except off the scene.

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Himes spews carbon from D.C. to NYC and back

I don't care what he can do for my re-election campaign, Mr. President, I am not going into the bathroom with Barney.

I don't care what he can do for my re-election campaign, Mr. President, I am not going into the bathroom with Barney.

Aboard Air Force One with POTUS, Wiener and Barney Frank

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Do they play games in New Canaan, too?

New Canaan spec home

New Canaan spec home

The house pictured here looks like a nice enough place, but I noticed it was reduced in price today from to $4.495, a drop of $500,000 from its last price and a bigger drop from what is shown as its “original” price of $5.750. Maybe. According to the listing, it was built in 2006 as part of a developer’s attempt to chop up 17 acres, yet it has no listing history. Why not? Did it just come on the Greenwich MLS or, like our own listing service, can histories in New Canaan be disappeared? I don’t know the answer but I do see that 64 Parker’s Glen, next door, started at $6.9 million. I’m a tad suspicious that agents are erasing history these days, trying to make the old and unwanted look fresh and desireable. If so, that’s not a good thing for this “profession’s” integrity or for buyers, who are entitled to know the facts.

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Greenwich Democrat Primary Day

Don’t complain about diversity in Greenwich, at least when it comes to the Democrats. They have a homophobe running for one office and a homosexual running for another. Not that either persuasion affects the duties of either office but I’ve been worried that their presence might hurt our current First Selectman Peter Tesei’s chances for re-election. “No problem,” Peter reports. “got that under control”. Here’s his new campaign poster:

"I'm John, and I'll be your First Selectperson this term, okay?"

"I'm Peter, and I'll be your First Selectperson this term, okay?"

UPDATE: By gosh, Tesei isn’t standing still – he’s already out there sweeping up campaign funds. Man wins womens poker tournament in Atlantic City.

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You heard it here first

But Greenwich Time has figured it out: home sales suck.

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Two different realities

21 Desiree

21 Desiree

It’s an interesting sight: new houses keep coming on the market priced as though it were still the boom year 2007, while houses that have been for sale for awhile are dropping down the price shaft faster than an untethered elevator. 21 Desiree, new construction in 2005, sat unloved and unwanted through the ensuing four years and has undergone something like eleven price changes, from a high of $5.950 million to, today, $4.1. Not a bad house, although it does have some siting problems (namely, the cliff behind it) but if you calculate the land costs ($1.330) construction and carrying costs, its builder must be feeling disillusioned right about now.

30 Havemeyer Lane
30 Havemeyer Lane

As is, probably, the owner of 30 Havemeyer Lane. This place sold for $455,000 in 2002, sold again in 2007 for $705,000 and has been up for resale since 2008, starting at $935,000 and dropping today to $699,000. That’s still 2007 levels and, while I hate to break the news to this (would-be) seller, we’re not in Kansas anymore. Keep cutting.

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Waiting to get your price

6 Wilshire Rd

6 Wilshire Rd

This is a beautifully updated house on five acres at the corner of Close Road and Lake Avenue that was first placed for sale at $5.750 in 2006. In late 2007, the owners let the listing expire and presumably decided to wait for the market to improve and get their desired price then. Well, it’s back on today, asking $4.2 million. I don’t know whether the sellers rejected any offers three years ago but if they did, they probably regret doing so now.

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