What’d They Buy What’d They Get

Gideon Fountain writes:

Well, it’s happened again, as those Car Talk knuckle-heads would say.  More people have gone out and bought real estate, seemingly oblivious to the “real” crash that’s coming (according to doom’n’gloomers).  Yessir, just in the narrow range of $3,000,000-5,000,000, 32 properties have sold in Greenwich in the last 6 months, with 9 more under contract in that asking price range.

Here are the 32 sales. The selling price is revealed at the bottom of each listing.

Sold: $3M, September. Shore Road, in the "Belle Haven Peninsula"


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31 responses to “What’d They Buy What’d They Get

  1. greenwich dude


    all of this reporting of “facts” and “matters of record” in support of assertions made about the market is quite disturbing to us long term FWIW readers who came to enjoy totally unsubstantiated perma-bear views on greenwich real estate.

    will the programming next week return to “greenwich real estate is a sucker’s game” and “12 things you didn’t know (or care) you could do with bluefish”? or will you pls stick around?

    • Gideon Fountain responds….
      “greenwich dude”: Now just a doggone minute mister! While I appreciate the support, we must acknowledge that it is the great Master Blogger, Christopher Fountain, that brought everyone to this site. Chris’s style and unique, seemingly random subject choices has generated the kind of traffic that 99.99% of all other bloggers can only dream of. When he comes back, I will activate gideonfountain.com and we’ll see how I do, but trying to match his 41,000 hits in one day is a tall order.

  2. XyzZy

    For sake of full disclosure what percentage is that of the inventory of houses in that price range.

    How long will it take to sell all the inventory at this pace?

    • Gideon Fountain responds…
      “XyzZy”: You want to know what percentage of the total listings in the $3M-5M range that those 32 sales (+ 9 contracts) represents? Sigh…groan…hold on while I check…. (this will take a few minutes)…. Ok, I’m back. The answer is, there are presently 104 active listings in the town of Greenwich priced $3M-5M. So we know that in the last 6 months, 32 sold and 9 went under contract. But how does 41 sales and contracts in the last 6 months compare to last year, same period? Did most of those those sales occur in the last month, the first, or were they evenly spread out? What am I, a statistician? I just report sales (and sell stuff).

  3. Horse jock

    Thanks for posting. All seem re-done, ready to go, 4+ bedrooms. By the way, since you seem to have the only one in town, perhaps in the North East, spotted you gliding around town in that new Jag. A modern Hispano Suza if you will. Long. No sneaking around it that one. You do the “dots” not “feathers” proud.

    • Gideon Fountain responds…
      “Horse Jock”: You know, it’s true! Absolutely no one is driving this Jaguar! Seems a shame, damn nice car, extremely powerful. I looked up the “Hispano Suiza”; apparently they’re trying to re-introduce it, at $950,000 per, perhaps a “stretch”. Jay Leno has a 1915 version. The one you’re thinking of is this one? There are similarities!

  4. Libertarian Advocate

    Feel free to call me a real estate ignoramus, but I cannot fathom how 50 Arch closed at a higher price than did 546 North Street. What am I missing?

    • Gideon Fountain responds…
      “Libertarian Advocate”: Jane, you ignorant slut! (old Saturday Night Live routine). Actually, Libertarian, you’ve picked out two interesting examples! The part of the story you’re missing, regarding 546 North Street, is that it started out at $7,995,000 way back in September 2008. I’m pretty sure this was a case of multiple heirs who were to share the proceeds, and it’s been my experience that you can add one year on the market per heir. But 546 North Street is also a lesson in the perils of over-pricing. Almost everyone over-prices their house a little, and if corrected quickly, no big deal. But gross over-pricing can do real harm. Finally, what you see in these two examples is a clear picture of how much more buyers are willing to pay for Riverside/Old Greenwich vs. back-country Greenwich.

  5. What a fascinating look. Thanks for all the links. The sold prices are all over the place compared to the original and list prices – some, like 116 Clapboard Ridge, got just what they asked, and in ten days no less. Others, like 37 Maher – wow, originally $5495, down to $4595 List to $4075 sold. 37 Maher also wins in the DOM Category at 649. Crimony.

    Chris, Mrs. FF and I looked at four or five of those houses when hubby and I wanted to move to Greenwich, the bones of 390 Riversville appealed greatly but we weren’t up for all the work it needed. Happily, I see it sold for $2792 v. the $4295 original. I also loved 58 Ridge, exquisitely done on the inside – impeccable comes to mind, but I couldn’t wrap my brain around being to reach out and touch my neighbor, literally. It got so close to its asking, despite being on the market for 317 days. Those owners must have had deeper pockets to hold on until they got what they wanted.

    That was fun. What’s next? The $6-8 million range?

  6. Anonymous

    Post the 5-10mm next.

  7. fred

    Every listing broker will tell you how frustrating it is to hear the client say these dreaded words: “We NEED to get (some specified amount).”
    And most brokers don’t have the nerve to then say: THE MARKET couldn’t care less what you “need”, your house will sell for what it’s worth and no more!- Gideon Fountain

  8. Riverside

    Gideon – was that your fancy ride that I spotted at the OGTA on Sunday afternoon?

  9. InfoDiva

    It’s clear that buyers are willing to pay for Riverside/OG vs. back country, and it’s also very obvious that the tax assessor doesn’t have a clue about this new reality. Back country property owners should be storming Town Hall to demand tax relief. A Riverside OG property currently worth $3.5 MM is paying the same tax as an 06831 property worth $1.5 MM.

  10. Libertarian Advocate

    Gid: I do fully grasp the dangers of gross overpricing having seen an otherwise great house on 3.89 acres here in Stamford go on the market at 3.4 Million and slide ultimately into foreclosure. An overpriced house can never shake that reputation, unless, as you say, the sellers quickly bring it line with market realities.

    What I have trouble with is that a great house on 5+ acres on North Street goes for less than what appears to be a fairly ordinary house on .3 acres. Call me old-fashioned but I believe in getting more for money, not less.

    • Gideon Fountain responds…
      “Libertarian Advocate”: The 5+ acre North Street place you refer to needed loads of work. Personally, I would be thrilled to live in it as is, but I am not the typical buyer. The Arch Street place was move-right-in condition. That alone makes a HUGE difference.

  11. Horse jock

    546 North Street’s owners: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B04E5DE1F3AF930A25753C1A96F9C8B63. A few heirs indeed. Back in the day I used to date one of the daughters. The garages could be converted into a ballroom if I recall correctly. I thought Gloria Swanson’s car in Sunset Blvd was an Hispano Suiza, but in fact it was a 1929 Isotta Fraschini. Anyway you get the idea.

  12. Greenwich Old Timer

    Beautiful houses – what’s not to like? What about the poor folks who live in well-loved and maintained homes (I emphasize “homes”) in the $1 to $2 range – what are we, chopped liver?

  13. Anonymous

    Great post, thanks! I love this stuff. I am a history enthusiast, so I enjoyed seeing the 5 homes from the 1920s in that list of 32.

  14. Ill-logical

    Perhaps a bit off the topic, but I ‘m surprised there hasn’t been any comment on the Greenwich Reform Synagogue / Stanwich School fallout.
    How is the GRS planning to build condos on their site? How would P and Z possibly “bless” such a zoning change?

  15. OG Reader

    Hold up there InfoDiva, how much does it cost to service each of those back country homes spaced every 15 acres vs. every 100 feet in Riverside and OG. Density lowers costs for services.

  16. Hey

    Gideon you ignorant slut:

    Very true on the work – anyone with experience of renovations knows that they invariably take far more time and money than expected. Opening up walls/floors/ceilings ALWAYS reveals problems that you have to remedy to satisfy your insurer and to be able to tell the next buyer that the house is fine. Too many people just watch dodgy HGTV reno shows with absurd budgets and deadlines (yeah $5k in renos if you ignore a team of 15 master carpenters/tilers/masons/etc, a crapload of free materials, and free design help) and think that is what happens. Not at all.

    Plus if you have to reno, you are out of the house for 6-18 months, which has just a few costs of its own!

    The other nice thing about buying a house that’s already “done” is that renovations have horrible depreciation. It’s like driving a new car off the lot – you get absolutely killed.

    Sometimes its worth it if you are doing something idiosyncratic for your own pleasure or domestic harmony, but anyone who isn’t a professional should avoid renos like the plague.

    • Gideon Fountain responds…
      “Hey”: I thought absolutely everyone was familiar with the famous Dan Aykroyd/Jane Curtin line “Jane, you ignorant slut..” but when I used it yesterday, my Mom cautioned me about being too rough with you readers! But to your point: It’s possible you’re overstating things a teensy-weensy there, but over all, you’re right, major renovations are not for amateurs.

  17. anon

    maher messed up…. they turned down much higher offers.

    • Gideon Fountain responds…
      “anon”: Not sure you’re correct about that particular seller on Maher Avenue having “turned down much higher offers”, but it is certainly true in general that sellers who over-price will turn down what, in retrospect, turns out to be the best offer they got.

  18. InfoDiva

    OG , what services are you talking about? Most houses in backcountry are “off the grid” –no town water or town sewer. And no leaf collection, either, unlike that received by the smaller lots in the eastern part of town.

    As far as I’ve known for the last 25 years in town, the tax assessment on a house is based on its land and building values, nothing more. But good try.

  19. Libertarian Advocate

    Mama Chris: Don’t worry about me. As a lawyer, I’ve been called far worse than that. Also, I know Gid was just biting my leg.

  20. Hey


    Well plan for the worst, hope for the best. Plus, like Texas, everything is bigger in Gwich. You’re not going to do a $30k kitchen reno on a $6M house – that’s less than the maids get paid! So everything in Gwich is going to take longer and cost more money, even for smaller houses since they have to deal with the contractors and suppliers targeting the real mansion owners.

  21. Cos Cobber

    OG Reader, property taxes have never been about density, just property values and InfoDiva is correct, the tax assessments on OG and Riverside are too low. I’m not certain however that the back country is too high however. I still see many back country sales well over the assessed value.

  22. Anonymous

    They better plan to stay in the house a long time because they paid top dollar!!!